IN DARKNESS ALL CATS ARE GREY
Portugal/The Netherlands, 2017, Audio Play, 22’
This new work by Priscila Fernandes and commissioned for Solar is based on the medieval utopia of the Country of Cockaigne- a place of abundant food, pleasant weather and where work is unnecessary. The journey to such country is usually narrated as arduous, taking several years and of enormous expectation. Priscila Fernandes transposes this imaginary to the present time: a park in a city at night where hordes of people walk around it without ever finding entrance. In order to reveal how utopias arise from our imaginary and how they can be instrumentalized, the artist embodies each of her characters with different ambitions and desires, from characters seeking for food and freedom, to stories of exploitation.
"Every night hordes of people can be found walking, marching or wandering around the park. They seem to be stuck at the edge, continuously tracing the periphery, a permanent accentuation of the park’s shape, forever highlighting the bushes and trees that surround it. Only treading the path separating the city from the park.
They are from all walks of life, and August knows it. Every night he takes meticulous notes of these passers-by. He sets up his office at the north entrance, always impeccably dressed, in a suit and tie, neat and tidy. His hair styled literally with a fine tooth comb. He brings with him a table and a little stool, a folder of paperwork, a small pen and a rubber stamp.
Although he has often heard it said that it is inside the park that one finds happiness – true happiness – August has never felt like going in. He has been
a civil servant all his life and he is more than comfortable with rigid bureaucratic routine. His pleasure is found right there, at the entrance of the park. August makes efficient inventories of the people who pass by. He never wastes time with distractions or gossip, but just rigorously records the names, ages and the ambitions of those who are looking for a way in. It is thanks to August’s thorough research that we receive accounts of the people who circulate the park: Casper, an avid lover of idleness; Donald, a character farting with every step he takes; the hysterical Doctor Clare and the wicked plans of Joey - the scoundrel.
They are real bodies, bodies that are whole, bodies in themselves, bodies that remain whole. ”
Like all utopias, this park based on Cockaigne finds innumerable parallels with our current situation instigated by migration, economic and political crises. In this way, the artist considers the role of such folkloric hyperboles as triggers for reflection on the limitations of today’s society, as well as to imagine other possible futures.