Protection Video Performance

And at this moment, I am living in the countryside, in a farmhouse surrounded by native forests, rural and domestic animals, and the family dog who insisted on lying next to me. As I began to write the words "magic" and "sorcery," the dog started barking at me. I erased the words, took a break to read other articles, and the dog calmed down. Returning to writing the text, once again, the dog barked at me while I rewrote the same words. In one of the texts I was reading, it discussed protective rituals performed by African orishas, highlighting how all cultures have rites, spells, and magic for the protection of individuals, their families, and their belongings. Then the thought came to me, "I think I need to do something to protect myself, it can't hurt." After all, I am talking about manipulating the forces of nature, from an unknown that I don't know how it can manifest, so it wouldn't hurt to perform any ritual to protect myself from energetic polarities. And this dog can't be barking for no reason. And I haven't even mentioned the cats that appeared in the windows and stared at me intently.

So, I chose the simplest and most well-known symbol for body and space protection, the pentagram, and drew it inside a circle on the palm of my left hand, and I resumed writing. The dog didn't bark anymore, and the cats came down from the windows and nestled in the sun. I envisioned a protective performance ritual, drawing a salt pentagram on the floor with a circle around it. The initial idea was for 5 people or characters to walk along the lines of the star, coming out of each of the 5 points, seeking protection, crossing each other through the star and activating its energy. However, to perform the ritual, a long single-person video was made, encompassing all the movements of the ritual. Drawing the salt circle, drawing the star with salt inside the circle, walking on the lines, and concluding the ritual. In the finalization and editing of the video, each of the ritual movements was overlaid on top of the other, like a synthesis of the ritual, appearing ghostly with transparent bodies crossing each other in this concentrated and ritualistic movement.

In the second video, the ritual remains the same – drawing a pentagram inside a circle, both made of salt, and walking on the lines while asking for blessings and protection. To create this second recording, I decided to do it in the woods in a more horizontal fashion. I gathered my filming and ritual equipment and ventured into the trails of São Martinho de Gandra towards the river. At a fork where the trail became challenging for vehicles, one path was difficult, with sharp rocks and a steep descent, while the other was even worse, with more unstable and sharp rocks but not as steep, albeit slightly darker. The less steep path led me to believe it would be easier, but looking down the trail, it seemed to lead nowhere or away from the river and into a grape farm. I decided to go back and take the steeper trail. The wind began to dance with force, making the water on the tree leaves drip onto me.

Midway, to my right, there was a small water retention that resembled a pool, filled with moss inside and on the external walls where water cascaded down like a waterfall. When I finally spotted the river, I walked towards the access to the bank. In front, there was a small elevated mound of earth, followed by a flat clearing along the river. I set up the camera with the tripod on the high part, framed the shot, and began recording the scenery to test the light and sound. Another gust of wind started blowing along the trail towards the riverbank, this time accompanied by rain, growing stronger. I opened the umbrella over the camera and positioned myself underneath with all the equipment nearby. Ten minutes later, the rain showed no signs of stopping. I thought, "I'll record another day," packed up the equipment, and surrendered to the unpredictability of nature, over which we have no control. I pondered on recording another day, collected the gear, and followed the trail back home.

I stopped at the small dam, admiring the plants on the dam wall and gazing at the landscape on the other side, where the river flowed forcefully, trees adorned in autumn yellow, and misty mountains. In this moment of contemplation, the rain ceased with a final light and warm breeze. I decided to return to the same spot. I repeated the entire setup and framing process and began the ritual: drawing the salt circle, then the pentagram, walking on the lines of the star, asking for protection and blessings.

While walking on the salt lines of the pentagram, there was a point where my foot slipped, but by the third time, I knew better how to navigate that spot. However, it was very marshy ground, making it difficult to choose where to step more safely. I brought a candle and a bundle of herbs to burn for smudging, and I recorded this movement as well. In the video editing, the images of the characters intersect with very distinct movements. One character creates the salt circle and pentagram, another walks on the lines of the pentagram, and the third smudges everything, as if cleansing the environment and the other two characters in their movements. Once again, the three characters blend as a concentration of ritual movements in relation to time and the image being perceived. It appears as if all the ritual movements, which could be lengthy and time-consuming, one step after another, are condensed into a short span of time. The result of the video shows the movements happening simultaneously, like a concentrated force in motion within a reduced time frame, or as if the three forces of movement are acting simultaneously. Each character appears to be performing a distinct and repetitive movement.

Guided Meditation as a way to get in contact with the unconsious

Art is a human need for expression as ancient as humanity itself, evident in the remnants of cave art, capturing the desire to immortalize daily events on cavern walls. While each artist may approach their production as an individual expression, it also delves into the origin of collective needs and societal events involving an entire community.

When visiting exhibitions and engaging with artistic themes produced by individuals, we encounter a myriad of elements woven into a creative process. Unbeknownst to us, we engage with the most unconscious form of expression, surrounded by the mystery of the creation's origin and intentions. From a Freudian perspective, there exists a link between the artist's life experiences and their ongoing journey as a social being. Art serves as a means to grapple with unconscious impulses, preventing the individual from being consumed by them or making the repression imposed by society socially acceptable.

In an attempt to connect artistic production with the unconscious, I proposed a group exercise – a guided meditation. Participants were led through an imaginary path, encouraged at certain points to let their imagination create colors, objects, symbols, or words without any pre-suggested information. Guided meditation aimed at finding or receiving messages from the unconscious usually requires setting an intention. Perhaps my mistake was the lack of intention-setting with the group. I was overly excited about the meditation and overlooked defining an intention with the group. In a way, I assumed that everyone present, pursuing a Ph.D. in fine arts, would have intentions centered around their doctoral research. However, the results varied in magnitude and proportions according to individual needs.

For instance, one student with dietary habits excluding animal products saw a purple crystal and a wooden hut during the meditation, choosing hematite, a stone related to blood and appetite. She shared her struggles with appetite and iron deficiency. Another student visualized their grandfather's clock and picked a conch shell. I found the grandfather's clock deeply personal. Symbolically, the clock represents time, its unceasing ticking marking a Western perception of time, distinct from Brahma's concept. Perhaps it signifies ancestral time, the family's time, a way of perceiving time repeating as ancestors did. The conch shell is a gem of the unconscious, as the sea and water symbolize the vastness and infinitude of the unconscious. The conch resides in the depths of the sea, in solitude, protected by its shell, dancing to the rhythm of the tide.

In any case, what appeared for each person was highly personal. Without a publicly established intention, understanding the meaning of each message becomes challenging, as if each person internally set their intention, in their private and possibly even unconscious realm, and the dream symbol manifested to meet their private expectations. According to Jung, a symbol is a term, name, or image that may be familiar in daily life but carries special connotations beyond its evident and conventional meaning, precisely due to the peculiarity of private symbolism. Although the meanings of many symbols have accompanied us for millennia, their significance can depend on the context in which they are placed. The clock is Chronos, Saturn, time – the relentless malevolent force that races for all, mercilessly. But how does this time flow? How should one use this time? In the same way as ancestors? Or innovate and do things differently? Could that be the message?

I have been practicing this type of meditation to develop my creations for a few months. Similar to how tarot delivers messages about the unconscious, this meditation does the same, with the possibility of an unlimited number of symbols to be presented. While tarot has 22 major arcana and 56 minor cards, summing up to 78 symbolic options, our imagination has no limits to symbolic possibilities. An important detail is that the unconscious may choose symbols that have recently appeared in daily life, such as watching a movie or experiencing an unusual event. The unconscious can be easily influenced, even the expectations about what the meditation is and how it will unfold can suggest the symbol of communication that may appear. The first time I did this meditation, what appeared was closely related to what I was experiencing at that moment. I believe that during this meditation, each colleague had their universe of intertwined events between private life and academic production.

The Meditation

Close your eyes.

Breathe and feel the air entering and leaving.

Breathe and sense the cold air coming in and the warm air going out.

Whenever the mind slows down, return to the breath.

Imagine the air entering and leaving.

Picture the inhaling rising through the head and the exhaling descending through the body, exiting through the feet.

Imagine roots forming at your feet.

They descend through the ground, entering the earth, passing through rocks and aquifers, going down toward the Earth's core.

At the core, the roots gather all the energy, channeling it upward toward the Earth's surface, reversing the entire path.

This energy rises through the body, passing through the feet, legs, hips, lower back, chest, hands, arms, chest, neck, and head. It exits through the top of the head toward the sky.

It passes through planets and galaxies.

At the top, there is a portal.

Crossing the portal, there is an iridescent light.

This iridescent light accompanies you all the way back towards the Earth's surface.

Now you are on a trail, a familiar path, a place you have been before, a beautiful and comfortable place to walk.

Follow the trail towards a fork.

Choose one side and follow it.

Enter a cave.

It gets dark and tight.

Follow by touch, feeling the walls.

At the end is a clearing with a light of a specific color.

You see the color.

In the clearing, there is a very large crystal reflecting the light of the color you see.

Move the crystal, and there is an object, a word, or a symbol.

Take a deep breath.

Open your eyes.

Note down what you have seen.