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I can't forget that I forgot

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

Cristina Elias, 16 min, HD, 2020

Video (visual arts, performance, dance and literature)

inspired by Clarice Lispector's text “The woman who killed the fish”

camera: César Meneghetti editing: Cristina Elias music: Leigh Thomas

Held with the support of the FUNARTE Respirarte Visual Arts 2020 Award

click on the image to watch the full performance

In this video, I try to give voice in different languages ​​- performance, dance, image, spoken and written text - to the short story "The woman who killed the fish" by Clarice Lispector. Clarice's text works as a trigger for the composition of the movement which, at the same time, inspires the rewriting of that same text. The sound landscape of the video is composed of music (Leigh Thomas) and speech (my voice). I rewrite the text, not only in other languages ​​such as dance and performance, but in its own original code (the text itself) which, in the encounter with another individual reality and time space, strays from its center and becomes something other.

In The Woman Who Killed the Fish, a (supposedly) children's story from 1968, Clarice brings out the inner world of a woman who, forgetting to feed the fish entrusted to her, ends up killing them “unintentionally”. A complex world presents itself to readers, who are actively summoned to judge the "crime" then committed by this woman. "Do you forgive me?" With this question Clarice ends the book, leaving many questions open: the "woman" who "forgot" and who, unintentionally, "killed"; judgment and sentence through the eyes of the "other"; guilt, self-punishment and self-condemnation; on the other hand, a search for acceptance and forgiveness of itself in error, in imperfection, in human error. In a broader view, in addition to the individual and the psychological, the forgetfulness of the other, of the collective, is at stake; the lack of care (even involuntary) that causes the suffering of fragile people who, in Clarice's words, "just want to live". Suffering that arises from indifference, social invisibility, the fact that “they have no voice to complain”, just like the fish. The "woman" had the food but she "forgot" to provide it. The lack of intention to kill does not erase the death of the fish.

In this context, Clarice's text written in 1968 is more than current. I see in the society where I recognize myself today the judgment and punishment of the other as a form of entertainment, almost a sadistic pleasure. I see human beings who consider what is different from themselves or what they believe to be the "Truth" as a threat, a crime to be punished. A society in which all are judges and executioners; an individualistic society to the extreme that displaced the "detachment" and "detachment" proposed by some Eastern philosophical lines to a mistaken place, where the importance of the "other" is annihilated by the care only with the self. A society that is based on a premise of forgetfulness, of forgetting the pain of the other.

In DON'T FORGET THAT I FORGOT, I look at myself as part of that society and, with the artistic resources that I know and master, I put myself on trial before the eyes of the other and myself: “Will you forgive me? Will I forgive myself? ”. Hunger, need, pain as facts. Inaction, forgetfulness, a human error or a crime?

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