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25 Years

"Hard Times, Hold Me" Performance Art at UMN by ICGC Former Visiting Scholar Pagi

Hard Times, hold me, a poetic performance that was performed at the University of Minnesota by Brazilian researcher Patricia Giseli, or Pagi, as she is best known, took place in late August 2019 at noon in front of the Coffman Memorial Union, a building that houses a variety of services at the University of Minnesota (see photo at right by Julia Vanatta).

Julia Vanatta, an American woman and friend of Pagi's who assisted during the performance, reports that she was invited by her friend to photograph the experiment. According to Julia: “My role was to capture the reactions, or lack of reactions, of passers-by. Pagi's experience was different from mine. She was the object of the experiment, I was the observer. Pagi had her dark, wavy hair pulled back in a ponytail, represented a person who needed comfort, and held a handwritten cardboard sign that read 'Hard Times, Hold Me'. Beside her was a tray with some coins. My first impression focused on how people didn't see her, at least that's how it seemed. Many were too busy with their heads turned to the phone. Others may have noticed, but they were indifferent and did not turn their heads. As we continued the experiment, some people approached Pagi and hugged her. Pagi seemed small in contrast to the large building and square. We moved to another location on Campus. This time Pagi was on a path where students, parents, and teachers would be more likely to see her asking for help. While she was there looking sad, a woman came over and gave her a big hug."

Pagi says about her artistic action, Hard Times, hold me, can be understood as a provocation, because it shows that the boundaries between research in Humanities, art and life are indissoluble. I wanted to delineate an intersection uniting three axes that guide the study to reflect, at that moment, on the precariousness of the visible and invisible subjects in the urban setting, to experiment with the different affective and cultural dynamics of daily life, and to stimulate the poetics of the exchange of affects in times. difficult. The performance was a protocol for experiencing the subversive and creative powers of the very artistic modality that I, the Afro-Indian woman, research and practice, and how it works in this dark current that crosses us, and induces us to produce thoughts suitable for her. ”

Pagi is a poet / performer, has a Master's degree in History from Montes Claros State University and is currently a doctoral student at PPGHI, from the Federal University of Uberlândia. In 2018, she was awarded a sandwich doctoral scholarship, through a partnership between the Abdias Nascimento / CAPES and ICGC, to attend academic year 2018-19 in residence at ICGC at the University of Minnesota. After facing culture shock during the process of adaptation to American culture, the Brazilian researcher ended her internship last month with this performance - an artistic modality that is present everywhere but lacking labels, it is little known and identified by the general public. “Interestingly, this artistic modality is constantly being questioned about its artistic potential. It is very common to hear: 'Is this art?' ” says Pagi.

Performance Art can easily be found in social manifestations and political acts; it is also in everyday life - in squares, markets, circuses, bars, universities and now marks its entry into major festivals and museums. Performance, however, is considered a marginal art because it is not at the heart of the canons, and is on the fringes of the cultural and entertainment industry. Neither labelable nor profitable, it is a totally dissonant manifestation in the consumer society. The researcher ensues that, because it is not easily captured, it is also difficult to escape the effects that can cause a Performance. No viewer is immune to a performance program.

According to Pagi, estrangement is one of the reactions expected by the viewers, “because Performance Art is a radiative art, which makes better use of tension, the friction it causes, to explode into matter that feeds thought to the mind. creation of other realities. Imagine how invisible and uncomfortable it is to encounter a street beggar? Sometimes we don't see and that's fine, but sometimes we look and see beyond what we see. ”

The Hard Times, Hold Me performance is linked to Pagi's doctoral research, which focuses on the interaction between black women's bodies, marginal art, academic research, and Brazilian feminisms. In addition to the multiple analytical goals of this artistic intervention in the US, Pagi also wanted to draw attention to a theme that is still taboo in Brazil: the impact that masters and doctorates have on students' mental health. The pressure and excessive demand for academic production, the intense learning process, unflinching deadlines, isolation, bullying, are all part of the routine of a graduate student. This period of dedication is one of the major causes of imbalance in the body, such as depression and anxiety. 4 out of 10 graduate students experience some mental distress in universities around the world, as shown by the University of Texas research published in the journal Nature Biotechnology (2012 and 2018).

Pagi also adds that Hard Times, Hold me, as an analytical device, shows that, not on large scales - but in visible manifestations, the performative act aroused affects, perceptions, and intensities, which is what makes up the powerful artistic practices, as it defines it. the philosopher Deleuze. Julia Vanatta, who photographed the performance, reinforces that one of the most expressive photos of Pagi shows a radiant smile. She states, "This experience, for me, gives me a warning about how we connect with people. A simple smile and eye contact can be a gift for someone struggling. Human contact is healing. ”

More on graduate student mental health - https://www.nature.com/naturejobs/science/articles/10.1038/nj7419-299a

Original text by Joanna Ribeiro - Casa Crua Project -  translated from Portuguese.