Martha Araújo

In Habito/Habitante, the suspended material renders the wall a prison and the participant a prisoner. The liberating impulsion releases the participant. The act of freeing oneself, of flying, and escaping from constraints is an action that is both extremely symbolically and physically significant. The sound produced by the Velcro upon the detachment of the material from the wall enhances this sense of release. The repetition of the same gesture during a performance gives the act a status of ritual, giving awareness to the power of the action. The work has a political and social meaning lies in the epoch within which it was created—the transitional period when Brazil became a democracy in the 1985 elections. The individual dimension of the liberating experience is thought as a moment of collective construction of a new political context. This work is a testimony and a witness to the emotions and the spirit of the state in this moment of profound political change that is inscribed in the physical and psychological body of an entire generation. Martha Araujo states: “For me these gests are the means to find ourselves with ourselves, the others and the environment within which we live while liberating ourselves”.

Since the 1980s, Martha Araujo, (b. 1943 Maceio, Brazil) has explored the physical and psychology limits of the body. She has explored space, the body and mind by asking spectators to use objects and clothing that she produces and exhibits in exhibition spaces. Many of her works are related to her performing installations between 1982 and 1987 entitled “Habito / Habitante”. From a historical perspective, her approach relates to Helio Oïticica and Lygia Clark. Her work is now being reconsidered, like those of other artists from South America, thought to be an alternative to performative gestures in the United States and Europe. The use of the body is linked to African-Brazilian rituals, carnivals and especially to specific political contexts where the body is a means of resistance.