Sculpture by Spartak Dermendjiev
About the Blog (Sobre o blog)
In order to graduate in dance, I wrote and performed a solo piece entitled Dorme, dome, Frankenstein (Sleep Tight Frankenstein). Despite its name, it was not an adaptation of Mary Shelly’s novel. In fact, it spun around the solitude of an originally loving yet hideous creature. From there I reflected on some aspects proper to the human condition such as love, attachment, sexuality, marginalization plus beauty and ugliness, adequacy and inadequacy, normality and abnormality, fragility and strength.
In the following year, Heaven awarded me a severe neurological illness. Thus, instead of going on with my artistic career, I underwent a brain surgery. I was healed all right, but as an aftereffect of it, half of my body was undyingly semi-paralysed.
Then, perhaps because the hero of my solo was a disabled boy and because I became disabled shortly after creating and performing it, I associated this event to the work and started to look at my body as “Frankensteinian”.
In consequence, I felt very insecure, and rather than an artistic approach to dance, an academic one was almost a forced choice. Resigned to my fate, I got a diploma in Art-therapy and some years later, I gained a Master in Sociology and Anthropology of Religion.
During the specialisation, I saw that art played a role in the treatment and healing of some pathologies, just as in the transgressions or deviations of physical, mental, or sociocultural norms. I also understood that while anguish may accompany disruptive forces, art conversely expresses or even brings them together.
Later in the Post-Graduation Programme, I came across subjects such as contemporaneity, trespassing of boundaries, mixed realities and hybridism as well as with social and anthropological studies on health, illness, and cure of body and soul.
After that, I realised those three academic instances plus the personal one (my illness, its treatment, and my disability) made a profitable intersection so that something that was formerly private and subjective, acquired collective and objective dimensions.
A Monstrous, Hybrid and Transgressive Contemporaneity
I understand contradicting forces impel us. This way, in our daily lives we face very imprecise borderlines concerning body, feelings, behaviours, cultures, and institutions. In this sense, we are all hybrid, borderers or, metaphorically speaking, monsters.
Apart from us, the society we have built, and where now we live, is likewise monstrous, since we created it. In other words, it continually submits us to close encounters of the third kind!
By integrating dissonant sounds and making an only symphony out of them, by producing strange nonetheless beautiful shapes, art offers a possible way of “healing” this schizoid contemporary reality. Therefore, I believe art is an invaluable ally in this process.
In short, for me “illnesses” happen because conflicting forces take over a given organism and make it hybrid, borderer, spooky or “monstrous”; “healing” names the integration of these forces into an organic whole, no matter if physical, psychological or sociocultural; and in its turn, art is the greatest catalyser of this process.
That is why I hold that monsters, illnesses and art perfectly match, and trust that dramas portraying monsters, including ancient ones, keep a tight relation with contemporary life by mirroring all of us.
The Wounded that Heals
An example of the above is the Greek myth about the centaur Chiron. Although people do not always view centaurs as monsters, perhaps because they are neither gigantic nor destructors, centaurs have mixed bodies. Therefore, similarly to Marry Shelly’s creature aka Frankenstein, they are monsters, spooky, hybrid and borderers.
In the myth, Chiron was accidentally shot with a poisoned arrow. This would have been deadly to anyone but for a demigod like him since such creatures are immortals. This way, Chiron endured a very painful and never-ending agony.
Unable to heal his own wound, and precisely, for this reason, he mastered more and more the healing of injuries, became a seasoned practitioner, and started to heal other’s afflictions. He is then one of the archetypes of the wounded healer.
He also lives in-between two traditions in a region where the centaurs’ instinctive and wild behaviour and humans’ rational and educated one disagree. This splitting makes him humans’ refined friend and fierce enemy at the same time. At once the centaurs’ King, a fierce warrior, a musician, and the tutor of great mythological heroes such as Heracles, Achilles, Perseus, Theseus and even Dionysus.
In fact, his inner disunion was so severe that only a body half-human and half-animal would possibly convey it. Adding to that divide, one of the myth’s versions says that Chiron was wounded in a battle between centaurs and mankind.
This way, the semi-human and the semi-beast meet in this semi-god character, as well as physical, psychological and sociocultural facets that fight and thus cause “illnesses”, wounds, or metaphorically speaking, monstrous and hybrid bodies. Nevertheless, the myth shows that the union of these disagreeing sides heals or alleviates sufferings by blending these incongruities in the demigod’s body and occupations.
For the reasons aforementioned, I referred to the solo piece and to my ideas on monsters to write Curadores feridos e outros frankensteins: quinze apostas nos opostos (Wounded Healers and Other Frankensteins: Fifteen Whys Opposites Meet). Since I hold this blog as an expansion of the book, plus as said elsewhere, I consider the themes of hybridism and monstrosity perfectly fulfil my aims, I did the same over again.
- Note: this blog does not adopt a definite language.