wax latex mud (São Paulo)
wax latex mud (São Paulo)

Dirk Jan Jager is best known for his work as a painter, however at the invitation of Marcos Gallon, curator of VERBO, the annual Brazilian international performance art manifestation, he staged his performance work 'Wax Latex Mud' in a new context, the context of Galeria Vermelho in São Paulo.

'Wax Latex Mud' extends an ongoing investigation into the body as an extension of Jager's painting practice: in which he stages himself as the Anonymous Body. This body aims to exist in a state of neutrality equivalent to that of the fresh canvas or the white cube. Of course the body is never entirely anonymous and thus through the work itself and the gaze of the viewer mediated by the artist it becomes a site of transgression.

Previously this work existed as closed performances, the artist alone with a camera caught in closed circuit anti-narratives. With 'Wax Latex Mud' the action goes public, the physical enclosure regulated by the aperture of the camera mechanism removed. Time plays a significantly different role in this work, along with the actual presence of audience duration and endurance enhances the vulnerability of the body.

As the closing act of the Verbo festival the artist undertakes a journey of transformation. Though this process recalls in some respects Joseph Beuys’ tale of rescue by Tarter tribesmen, Jager's action connects directly to the history and culture of the country where the work unfolds. First he undergoes a full body depilation or Brazilian wax, the ritualistic action is then repeated using first liquid latex from the Pará rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis, and finally mud.

Although these sometimes very painful actions of stripping, burying and coating can be seen as reminiscent of universal Jungian warrior archetypes found in Africa, Asia, the Americas and the European ancient world, Jager refreshes and subverts them with an intense presentation of a hyper-vulnerable Artaudian body without organs.

Simon Ferdinando

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