Interview with Colectivo Utópico at FIBA 2023
Colectivo Utópico is a micro-comunutity of artists from Argentina, Swizerland, and Brazil whose work questions the way in which our communities are shaped by past and present utopias. Formed by Paula Baró [AR], Marina Quesada [AR], Rita Aquino [BR], Felipe de Assis [BR], Igor Cardellini [CH], and Tomas Gonzalez [CH], the group has organised encounters and performances, at times creating from a distance, gathering artists from different contexts.
“One thing in common, in our artistic practice, is the research on finding alternative ways of being together,” says Igor.
This resulted in projects such as «Performance Telling», which the collective presented during the 2023 edition of FIBA – International Festival of Buenos Aires. This “parasitic protocol”, as the group calls it, is a reinterpretation of pieces that that make up a festival’s programme – normally, works by white men. The idea is to present a new perspective and question the possibility of a shared language and a common understanding of the world.
In the case of FIBA, they re-staged «By Heart», a solo by Portuguese director Tiago Rodrigues that investigates the collective memory, and «The Big Mountain», by Argentinian Brai Kobla, a laboratory of social imagination that focuses on our hyper-mediatized world. Working with guest performers from different backgrounds, they studied the plays and drew on the issues raised by the originals. The result is a series of sketches that create new versions of the same themes, now retold from the new cast’s point of view, sometimes combining these questions with the actor’s own biographies.
“The performance is a bit like a festival within the festival, in the sense that there’s six small projects at once. It’s a bit an investigation on how to find echoes and resonances [from the original piece]. And to construct a narrative thread between the different formats,” explains Tomas. “For the audience, it’s like a mediation experiment, a way to think about the piece again and again and again,” continues Paula. “It’s also questioning about the ideas of copying and being together,” says Marina.
For Igor, there’s also an enriching aspect of working in the company of other artists. “When you create in a more classical context, you tend to be very clear about how things function. Here, everything becomes, in a way, a process of making space for different visions, enabling choices, respecting everyone.”
“And it’s still an ongoing process,” adds Tomas. “We realised that working every time on a project with a different context is time and energy consuming, and we want to find better configuration. But we managed to work together in a way in which we don’t always have to be the leading protagonist. Here in Argentina, Marina and Paula take the lead, they know the contexts and we trust their vision. The same thing in Switzerland or Brazil.”
“But creating spaces for creation is always an ongoing project, it’s a constant crisis.”
It is not by chance, then, that the «Utopia» in the collective’s name is struck through. “There is the utopia of being together, but it becomes something else,” says Marina. “It’s something that is in the middle of the tension, between north and south, between who colonised and who was colonised. It’s a tension that is never solved.”