Requiem for Mirrors and Tigers
Wednesday 12 July 2017
8pm / Edition VI - Event and Duration: Brazilian Tour / If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution at Casa do Povo, São Paulo
The sixth and final performance, Fino Fantasma, took place on 12 July 2017 at Caso do Povo, São Paulo. Across one of the open-planned floors typical of the building's modernist design, Ramírez-Figueroa laid out an arrangement of fluorescent lights. Concentrated around their illuminated bars, he also arranged groupings of objects-candles, cigars, vases filled with white roses (freshly bought from the flower sellers at the city's cemetery), and bowls of water, rum, perfume, and honey-all chosen for their role as accoutrements of Spiritism. Its founder, Allen Kardec (1804-1869), defined it as "a science dedicated to the relationship between incorporeal beings and human beings". Spiritism is underpinned by the idea that immortal spirits travel from one body to another over several lifetimes to improve themselves both morally and intellectually. This migration of the spirit is always forward, inhabiting human bodies (distinguishing it from reincarnation, for instance).
In the performance, these refined and human spirits were played by Ramírez-Figueroa and three other performers each stationed beside one collection of props. Dressed in dark denim and tailored shirts made by intuitively sewing together multiple sleeves, collars, shirtfronts, and backs from a dressmaker's pattern, all cut in white gauze. Creating a clear line of communication from these costumes, leftover pieces of sewing patterns were placed across the floor at punctuated moments-abstract echoes of to-be-completed human form.
To commence the performance, each performer lit a cigar, slowly puffing smoke between their teeth; the audience was invited to take one and join in on the ceremonial proceedings that would subsequently occur. One by one, at different moments across the thirty-minute duration, each performer dipped their fingers into bowls of honey or cologne or rum or water to then splash and sprinkle the liquid over their body, as if cleansing or healing. At one point Ramírez-Figueroa even emptied a bowl out the window, as if cleansing the space and surrounding neighbourhood. Alternatively, performers would pick up a piece of pattern from the floor, letting a candle's flame catch its edge so that it would slowly burn and extinguish like the cigars.
The title evokes friendly ghosts—a spectral figurative return to Ramírez-Figueroa first work in the cycle Illusion of Matter. The appearance of a doll-like floating fantasma in this earlier work—whose intentions remained ambiguous at its conclusion (was it friendly or not?)—can be seen as a contrast to the very human and fleshy forms in the final work. Did the presence of these fine ghosts represent a movement forward of the spirits invoked in the other works from the war, now inhabiting Ramírez-Figueroa in the presence? Perhaps such was expressed in the casual agency of Ramírez-Figueroa's ghost, who slowly moved through the space quietly and unspectacularly unplugging the florescent lights one by one, as if preparing the space for sleep. As he wrote of the work, "Grief is regimented, codified in gestures", and with Fino Fantasma it was felt as a calm goodnight.
Fino Fantasma (2017) was commissioned by If I Can't Dance, Amsterdam and first performed and recorded on 12 July at Casa do Povo, São Paulo as part of the Brazilian tour of VI (2015-2016), Event and Duration.