The Heir was the result of an investigation of inherited and purchased objects, and the relation of possession I could establish with each one of them. Some important objects were a white shirt, black trousers, a black eye mask, a grey military hat, military black leather boots, and a mattress.
The series of actions took place at a Waxing Gibbous party in a private terrace in Gràcia, Barcelona. The entrance was extremely slow, setting an anxious atmosphere and thus constituting a space of expectation. Ambiguity allowed me not to make any assumption about the audience’s horizon of expectations.
Even though The Heir was phenomenically between physical theatre and contemporary dance, it was instrinsically performative. Indeed, it accomplished an artistic rendition of “separation”, understood by Lacan as the second main operation of the constitution of the subject.
Hapah! was a fifty-minute-length performance and a first in a series of mourning actions. A couple of friends collaborated: cinema critic Miguel Casanova and lighting designer Paolo Portaluri. I had all my hair cut by Paolo while Miguel was asked to play with his feet in a childish manner. The soundtrack of Gurdjieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men was playing in the background. Once I was done with the haircut, I painted my forehead in red and the rest of my face in white pigment. This was the physical preparation of the action that followed.
I held a white mannequin in my arms and laid down on the floor with it for a while, as if with a corpse, until I could cry and mourn the death of the one it stood for. I left the mannequin aside, stood back again and went to the middle of the witnesses, who were sitting down on mattresses on the floor. I started jumping from one mattress to another saying joyfully “Hapah!” to each and every witness. The rhythm of the jumping went on increasing until it stopped all of a sudden.
As I stood in front of a crowd in a private apartment, I prompted seven male volunteers to engage with an object I would give them in the same manner they would see me interact with a similar object.
I wore the national flag of Catalonia (“estelada”) in a similar fashion to that of the French “République”, and then I grabbed a couple of plastic bottles of mustard and ketchup (whose colors mimic those of both the Catalan and the Spanish flags) and I spread some sauce over my chest. I threw the stained flag out on the street and the seven volunteers started the action as I bowed my head in assent.
Aspiration allowed me to perform the undecideability of the question of national independence (a new State of Europe) versus the people’s real sovereignty (the self-determination of a country). The action underwent a thorough reinterpretation in the later performance Killing Lluís Companys. For that reason, despite formal similarities, I consider them two distinct peformances.
“Wasteland” was the first action I undertook with a consciously performative quality. After some dance rehearsals in Barcelona, it was finally performed in Gelida, near the vineyards of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia where cava, Catalonia’s signature sparkling wine, comes from. The sole witnesses were fellow psychoanalyst Toni Martí, Argentinian actress Sandra Rossi and Spanish photographer Carlos Lázaro, three beloved friends.
I started dancing with a white cotton rope that I used to measure the extension of my body, especially the limbs, and then compare it to those of my friends’, one of whom is an amputee, to stress the permanence of both loss and presence. Some moves allusive to shibari eventually bridged the initial action, which evolved to a seeming self-asphyxia. Body parts, freedom of movement, breathing – all three losses become one in the wasteland of death.
Photography by Carlos Lázaro González. Music by Scan X. A tribute to T. S. Eliot.