Claudio Goulart (1954-2005) and Flavio Pons (1947) arrived in Amsterdam independently and more or less by chance from their native Brazil in the mid-1970s. Though it was intended to be a short stay, the city’s then free, progressive and avant-garde climate ensured that both artists settled here. Goulart and Pons were partners and later lifelong friends. Together they developed numerous artistic projects. Initially they devoted themselves to graphics, photography and collage art. From 1978 they also focused on (live) performances, which were characterized by a socially critical, political undertone and a poetic visual language.
Between you and me shows the videos Concerto (1980), Dialogs (1980) and Lovers (1980), which are among the earliest video artworks by Goulart and Pons. They are made in imitation of live performances, which were organized in 1978 and 1979 in, among others, Galerie Bedaux in Amsterdam. In the videos, the experience of sensory perceptions and making contact, or its preclusion, are central. The recurring attribute of a black, white or red ribbon each time has a different function, and therefore generates different associations. It covers, closes, connects, provides a tool for an alternative language and suggests an erotic game. However, when used as a blindfold, the idea of censorship and oppression is also evoked.
In the somewhat cryptic Concerto, Pons’ naked body moves along a wall projection of sheet music, rubbing his hands over the staves. In the subsequent, soundless, images, both the projected beams and the paper sheet music are hidden from our view in various ways. Always obscured by black strips or tape. Goulart also appears blindfolded at one point. Although he rids himself of several layers of the textile, his eyes, ears and later also his mouth remain covered. Eventually the sheet music is crumpled into a wad. The music stays off. Dialogs shows Claudio and Flavio in identical white shirts facing each other at an empty, (blank) tabletop. In various fragments, or wordless conversations, alternative forms of communication are continually tried out, in which the ribbon seems to be both the channel and a message. Action-reaction, giving and taking and thus the search for connection are guiding principles in the performance. The ribbon here acts as a tangible form of the abstract, sometimes inimitable interactions that take place in the mental space between people. Finally, in the poetic Lovers, we see the two men in an intimate, ritual-looking dance in which their naked bodies are alternately entangled and unwound with a red ribbon. In the almost synchronized movements, the body, both isolated and connected, vulnerable and powerful, is covered and shown. The space between Goulart and Pons is almost as present as the men themselves.
Goulart and Pons were among the pioneers of Dutch performance and video art. They were part of a group of artists of Latin American descent that also included Raúl Marroquín, Michel Cardena and Ulises Carrión. In addition to their joint practice, they also remained active individually. Flavio Pons lives in Amsterdam.
Between you and me is a collaboration with LIMA.