Just dropping a few personal notes on CELEUMA, a residency program we’ve just created. Details can be found at our website (in portuguese only, for this first open call).

So CELEUMA is set i n a family home, a place with loads of emotional baggage, which needed to be digested and regurgitated before a plan could be set in motion in relation to what would happen to the house. A very dear relative used to live there, before her life got cut short. Death, in all its powerful and transformative force is, somehow, at then at the core of CELEUMA. No surprises there. For those crazy enough to still follow this blog, death has become a familiar theme.

Before making a decision on what could be done in that place, It was obvious for me that I would have to start visiting and inhabit it. That took some years. My parents, promoting action to do something about it, helped set some (re)construction in place and I finally came up with some idea of what could be done that would put the love that’s rooted there in motion. A creative residency sounded fair. I finally started to visit and spend some time and discovered it was hard to leave. Here I am, back from a week spent there, and having a very hard time reconnecting to this “other” life and I ask: what is it about CELEUMA that makes it so hard to leave?

Most of the answers I find to this question are a matter of affections and difficult to put into words, but something is rather simple to explain: when I go there, I cut almost all communications with external information? No news, no media frenzy, no internet, no familiar neighbours… and the impact that produces in such a short period of time is always surprising. It also accelerates these sort of rhythms of connection and disconnection that I’m already very familiar with. Coming back, the alienation (from shared reality) makes things difficult, but, again, that is something my life choices have already made easier.

There is absolutely nothing romantic about being or living in the countryside, at least in this country. Whoever thinks differently has little clue about what forces are in motion when the relations between humans and nature are still developed in a technological dimension, meaning that natural resources are here/there to be exploited, to serve humans to its exhaustion. Yes, ecology and sustainability have entered the political agenda, but the content of that agenda is as alienated has its motivations are. Being that this is not the topic here, I’ll try to stick to the point and say that living at CELEUMA is not for most.

When we were cooking up the document that would outline the residency program, questions about how other artistic residencies work came up, namely questions that had to do with authors’ motivations to participate in such programs and their desired outcomes. Most artistic residencies promote an idea of co-work in an unfamiliar place. Such a huge umbrella, no? It it fit elements of surprise that come from unexpected collaborations, the idea of novelty that can arise from placing one’s bodies in a new environment, etc., etc. So far we concluded that our plan wasn’t too marginal in regards to these conditions, for we wanted to work out a kind of cadavre exquis in residency. On the other hand, authors at CELEUMA will be on there own till the very last moment, when we’ll all get together and look at what was created. Furthermore, the is no curating, no plans to exhibit and make things public. It can happen, but it’s definitely not at the core of the dynamics set in motion. CELEUMA is a place with as little rules and expectations as possible, with a single goal: to potentiate the love that set roots to that house and hope that it somehow contaminates those who visit.

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