Designed to run for 18 months, TABUROPA is an international research and theatre project on the topic of taboos that will be conducted in four selected countries: Portugal, Poland, Belgium and Germany. Based on their respective historical and cultural traditions, these four countries each stand for a different set of experiences in dealing with taboos and thus exemplify the diversity of Europe.

Artist Diary – written by ANDRÉ TEODÓSIO during Research Phase in Bruxelles

Research Phase Diary in Bruxelles

Held by Kobalt works in Brussels from September 3rd – 11th, the research phase for the forthcoming project entitled ‘SHHHHHHHOW’ directed by André e. Teodósio (Teatro Praga) and performed by An Jazi, Bernd Rehse, Pietro Micci, Tomasso Tessitori (Futur 3) consisted in the development and research of ideas and topics around the main theme subject of the international theatre project ‘Taburopa’ i.e. taboos. In order for that to happen, and besides the discussions which were already expected to exist within the working time of the group in the studio at the Museum Bozar, a series of visits and conversations were scheduled throughout the days according to the needs of the group as it progressed in its thinking.
The following text is a result of a diary that was published at the time through internet in different platforms with the intent of making it an open artistic process to society in general: texts written with interim results, photos taken and discussions promoted.

Summary of a diary:
On the first day rehearsing in Brussels in the beautiful space in Bozar we confronted ourselves for the first time by being alone, that is within only the working group, and by being in a city strange to everyone. We defined it as by being similar to a SITUATION VACATION IN A DESERT with the difference that the symbolic order present everywhere emerged identical to our historical background cities: “What do you mean there is no wifi here in the desert? You only told me that we were going to relax, you never told me there wouldn’t be any wifi!?”. Understanding how deceiving the aesthetical closeness that everything seemed to us was the first step to take in order to liberate ourselves from the ‘optically correct’ way of understanding our situation in that city. We planned our next day with an urge to downsize the immense patterns of behaviour that was assaulted us. Where should we go first? I think you have guessed…

On the second day in Brussels we happened to go where we wanted: the European Parliament. It is true that we were lucky enough to find someone who found our project interesting and was willing to spend some hours not only showing us that immense structure that keeps together diplomatically so many different countries but also who was willing to share with us for some hours, from his point of view as an historian, his point of view on our theme. The words of the independent deputy Rui Tavares were fundamental for they echoed within everything we talked and did in the following days. We’ll never be grateful enough for his kindness. Things like he said in the middle of a conversation: “… a bigger problem because it went from being an economic issue to become an essencialization issue” were right on the spot for what we were looking for.

The day three in Brussels felt very much like “dreaming with tortillas made with human eggs and Addams family” day. With such enlightening information as we were having in the city, for we had just started to visit various multicultural enterprises, and with the experience of the previous day, we simply felt we had to rethink how the ‘wheel-of-fortune’ had turned our concepts upside down. To put it simply, how much problems had we attributed to our subject when in fact its complexity is just related to the way one posits himself towards the subject. And that’s when I recalled a game that Agnieszka Blonska shared with us in the Lauching Phase in Koln, the ‘The missing link’ game. This game consists of accepting a certain real moment action (either group or solo) and reversing its context into a fictional situation by attributing it a missing image or a missing link. We sorted out different theoretical examples of it and by the end of the day we were finding a common ground for a possible future performance.

On the fourth day in Brussels we developed a bit more our missing link game but after a while we felt we needed to experience something out of the box. So I proposed, for it was raining and we couldn’t go outside, that we read a ‘french theory full of Lacanian wit text’ that no one was comfortable with and that was surely on the topic we were researching: “The big other doesn’t exist” by the philosopher Slavoj Zizek. It was surely an endeavour that took us a lot of hours in order to understand all the concepts. By the end of the day we decided to experience not only the outcast version of a society but that we should also stand along the exausting side of society itself. So we went high brow.

The high brow day of our research phase in Brussels happened to be the fifth day. After spending our days circulating in the middle of posh enterprises being it museums or antique stores, and after attending the Marché aux puces where certainly high brow and low brow stand along, where outcast and elite cross each other (and where Bernd bought a vintage bottle opener for 1€ and no, we didn’t buy any bottles!) we set ourselves apart in different directions: some went Nosferating to the Cinemateque, some went to performances in La Monnaie, others went to mingle, and so on. This was the day that simultaneously Mr. Gregor Leschig arrived to analyse our working activity.

On the day six after sharing our point of views of what had happened in the previous days in the city and trying to cross it with all the information we had gathered we found ourselves in the need no to read this time but to see something. But surely not something about the subject which he had already overcome. Nor also about our phenomenological points of view about the subject but to see a possible reality of a constructed taboo beyond what is anchored in our knowledge. Two proposals were made, being “Paradies: Liebe” by Ulrich Seidl and “Dogtooth” by Yorgos Lanthimos. We decided on the second one, a movie spoken in Greek subtitled in French and translated in real time into German in that Flemish area where we have been working. Yes… that was an ideal moment of a melting pot and fundamental to what was going to happen in the next day.

On the 7th day in Brussels, Teo said: Let there be light. And his head in the darkness was immediately divided in two: the Prometheican emerged. And with it, we tried to understand the difference between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life, of what is forbidden and what isn’t. On the 7th day after all this effort they decided to eat their favourite Thai fish soup and cross the most melting pot area of all Brussels (which in fact only stands due to its complex history of existence): the Matonge area where the Congolose colonial past issues are still felt. That experience opened up the path for our next day: to visit one of the last most problematic places in Europe.

Day 8 in Brussels. Today we visited the last colonialist museum in Europe (we were lucky to visit for soon it is going to be closed during 3 years for works…… so it’s going to lose its unpolitical edge), the Royal Museum for Central Africa. It is quite an experience which we all will never forget. The location, its purposes, the price, the topics, the organization, the logic… well… what can we say more?!? Nothing. Just watch some of the videos they curated and have available online. The experience of this was the sum of all of our thoughts and expectations about taboos.

On the last day in Brussels: We are about to leave. But before that we summed up our actions…. we had received the visit of four characters from a kind of a ‘sex and city’ who are doing the first Belgian lesbian porn movie in a dark room; we had been introduced to kind of alien lights; we had cancelled a restaurant (which made Bernd be scolded by the owner); and André was the only one wearing T-shirt on in a very cold and rainy day. After going through all our missing links it was then time for kisses…. for in within time: LET THE PERFORMANCE RISE.