Investing in a
new dance generation
in Europe
Credits: Joshua
Culture Program of the European Comission

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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BIO Gustavo Ciríaco is a Brazilian performing artist and art maker. In his work he dialogues with the historical, material and affective context one is immersed in any given situation. As art form, his work goes from multimedia stage conceptual work to convivial and open-air pieces. -He’s been to Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East in projects, workshops and artistic collaborations. He’s been acting in museum and multimedia projects as “A room of wonder“, in urban space projects as “Here whilst we walk“ & “Neighbors“ in collab. with Andrea Sonnberger; in conversational pieces “Drifting“ in collab. with António Pedro Lopes; and in dance projects “Still - sob o estado das coisas“ (APCA prize as Best dance conception and nominee of Bravo Prize as Best Dance Show). He’s been in residency at Tokyo Wonder Site (Tokyo, Japan), Les Récollets (Paris, France), ZDB and Alkantara (Lisbon, Portugal), Bamboo Curtain Studio (Taipei, Taiwan), Al Mamal Foundation (Jerusalem, Israel), among others. In 2011, he was the artistic director of Manifesta! (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and guest curator for ENTRE Lugares (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, London, England). In 2012, he started the projects “Where the horizon moves“ at Guimarães, European Cultural Capital and London Cultural Olympiad “Rio Occupation“, in the Uk; and A room of wonder (Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro) with Japanese and Brazilian artists.


In this interview to Gustavo Ciriaco we tried to understand the actual meaning of cultural imagery in terms of contemporary geography and circulation. We have asked Gustavo to describe what does he see from his window in Rio de Janeiro, while looking at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. A windows looking inwards and outwards at the same time.Take a look!


GUSTAVO CIRIACO: I am In Rio de Janeiro.. When I look at the Atlantic Ocean, in the direction of Europe it occurs me that Europe is far. For many years, going to Europe meant that I came from afar, it meant converging to a place and art world of reference. It was very present then the phantom of Europe and the idea of a center and the hub for the rest of the world around which a complex constellation of artists, art structures, curators, journalists and art goers went on orbit in a descendant or rather ascendant spiral. This vertical relationship was akin to science fiction films where one always goes back to a place which is the holder of the axis, of the parameters of civilization and of universal action.

RITA NATÁLIO: It’s interesting to learn that an artist, even if he travels without an end, can still experience cultural difference and farness as the first distinctive signs of geography. But is this distance still relevant today? Isn’t “SCIENCE FICTION” the daily bread of a more spread and global art scene, where everything is near and far at the same time, where continents are connected and disconnected by complex work chains of productive processes? What if we think of Europe and Brazil besides mere cultural profiles? Whereas today’s modes of life and work mingle with strong sense of randomness, we take part in a huge planetary training to mutability in geography, trade and cultural imagery. So, is Europe that far from Brazil?

GUSTAVO CIRIACO: Going to Europe meant merging into an international world used to deal with ethnic and cultural diversities under the globalizing effect of the assumption that we could live in a common and neutral international environment. The world was possible and uneven. Many years have passed since my first contact with Europe and the Europeans. This contact has been diverse and frequent over the last 25 years. As an artist and art lover I´ve experienced different structures and situations both in the performing art world and now more and more I´ve been inside the visual arts context. But then is not now and now is another thing.

RITA NATÁLIO: Yes, Europe was once the pure image of a neutral environment, a reality that could not be object of anthropology, because she was the “creator” of anthropology. But you are addressing something even more important to our common sense. “Now is another thing”. Now the verticality of cultural domination standards that created this neutral cultural phantoms have decayed and radically changed our perception of culture in the last two decades. Now we live Now, in the world of uninterrupted changeability of mentality and cultural difference. What can a body do in a world like this?

GUSTAVO CIRIACO: I´ve become a contextual screener and my past as an anthropologist made me a curious mind in what regards standpoints and viewpoints. I realize that the center is where you are, despite the less or more developed working conditions of the art world you are involved in.

RITA NATÁLIO: As Paulo Virno put it in his fabulous text “the Ambivalence of disenchantment” : “If we still want to talk about a revolutionary destruction of social foundation, we can only mean a destruction taking place where there is no longer any real foundation to destroy”. This is the point of view of the windowlessness. There is no real foundation to destroy. The only possible point of view it to don’t have a point of view. I mean, one can only see anything, if one becomes a “contextual screener” of the world, as Ciriaco put it. Or is it different?

GUSTAVO CIRIACO: As the world is going through a drastic change in the financial and cultural centers, I have the impression that everything is going much faster than what people can absorb in the biographies. This has to do not only with art communities. I´d dare say that it´s even visible in immigration officers who still have the same behavior towards communities that are now in a total opposite situation they were 10 years ago. Brazilians, in particular, no longer seek Europe for economical escape. The image of the things, though, is still stopped somewhere. I am not demanding any attention to the new status of the Brazilians. Far from it. What I d like to share here that although Europe´s vast historical background of its art making and display, a strong sense of European ethnocentricity still pervades the contact and understanding of other cultures. The world becomes transparent when we know things beforehand, a friend of mine said on buying bread where you know where to buy it.

RITA NATÁLIO: But what if we sit in a window In Lisbon, where bread is more and more difficult to buy? Is it the same?

GUSTAVO CIRIACO: I am in Lisbon. When I look at the Atlantic Ocean, in the direction of Brazil it occurs me that I see it as part of a map seen from above. I´m no longer immersed in it and the context I belong to when I am there. Here I am inside another context to which over the years I´ve been more and more familiar with. In this particular moment of the Portuguese diaspora, being here has a strange effect on me. As I see its cultural structures and art communities be so intensely affected by the crisis, I can´t help not thinking of the patterns I m used to in Brazil, when it seems no matter how developed we get over the years in our art making and understanding of the complexities of its economy, we remain invisible as our work. The disappearance of the Portuguese cultural ministry echoes the vanishing of the cultural institutions in Brazil, and in particular in Rio, where recently under the heat of carnival, in a coward action, the new cultural city secretary extinguished the theater and dance divisions. The week before the main public art centers and theaters were closed due to lack of security conditions, something the Secretary should take care of....