‘one mysterious Thing, said e.e. cummings*’,
‘What Can Be Said about Pierre’, ‘Olympia’
Vera Mantero & O Rumo do Fumo , Portugal

Concept and performance: Vera Mantero
Original light design: João Paulo Xavier
Light adaptation and operation: Bruno Gaspar
Text: Jean Dubuffet
Music: Excerpts of Bakma Pygmy music, Cameron
Special thanks to Ana Mantero and Miguel Ângelo Rocha

Duration: 17 minutes


'The only description of this piece, given in the original flyer, at the premiere: Vera Mantero, improvisation, 5 minutes. I think no one in the organisation of the Marathon For Dance had any idea of what I was going to do. And I also think that it did not last only 5 minutes. The Marathon For Dance is already a historical event, organized in 1993 by several dancers andchoreographers that had decided to awake the country. For the dance happening in it. When they invited me to participate, I enthusiastically said yes and started to think about what I could do to ‘awake’ people. At that time I was reading ‘Asphyxiating Culture’, by Jean Dubuffet, and it seemed to me absolutely right to read some parts of this book for that occasion to whomever might be present at the Maria Matos Theatre. “But read it how? And won’t it be a bit pretentious, to go there and say I am the one who knows what is true culture, or the best culture? Maybe I should be naked… I must read Dubuffet naked. Glued to the ground in front of a microphone? No, that’s impossible … Doing what then? Naked…?” This nudity made me think of Manet’s Olympia, which I had just seen at the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, where I was living at the time. “What if it was Olympia reading Dubuffet? Oh, no! how dreadful, everybody will be blaming me for sacrilege on painting, etc., etc…”. I told André Lepecki that I wanted to read Dubuffet naked but didn’t know how to do it without just reading Dubuffet naked. I didn’t even talk to him about the painting. Would you believe what he then said? “Oh, Vera, don’t you remember Manet’s Olympia [that we had seen together]? I think you should do something with her.” [!!!]
And that’s what I did.'
Vera Mantero

Vera Mantero’s Olympia

Vera Mantero is in complete nudity, except for these light blue slippers, and crosses the stage in a diagonal, slowly, dragging an iron bed behind her that is attached to her left arm, like a heavy burden. In her right hand she holds a copy of Jean Dubuffet’s ‘Asphyxiating Culture’. Once again Vera Mantero crosses over to the other arts and disciplines (in this case to painting and sociology) to steal, to disembowel, to quote what she needs for her dance, so that dance –all dance- would be less insufficient.
At the end of her journey crossing the stage the choreographer-dancer sits down on the undone bed and stares at the audience. Vera Mantero’s Olympia is somehow beyond dance, it is a performance about the use of the body. Suddenly and only for some short minutes all the monsters, all the rebels from Goya to Artaud are invited to testify the history of the use of the body through the culture of power, but also of the rebelliousness of the bodies. During five minutes the mercantile relationship between art and money as well as its denouncing are clearly exposed.
António Pinto Ribeiro, Dance Temporarily Contemporary