Gabriela dos Santos:...leaving identity for? 

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final & festive iteration of the two year long so-called Kitchen* trajectory. Aeroponic Acts are conversations-in-a-form. Each presenter addresses one question as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Gabriela dos Santos's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım, followed  by a written report, authored by Harun Morrison, which includes a summary of the spoken comments by esteemed guest respondents Barby Asante, Lisette Lagnado and Momtaza Mehri. 

...leaving identity for?

Gabriela's question: ...leaving identity for?

Gabriela's introduction:

Trembling. When it feels the tremor, the collective is before, during, after and so on. The roots identity trembles.


Tremble regular gravity;

Tremble a flood of metaphors;

Tremble paradoxes;

Harun's report: Two people on stage, Line and Gabriela go back and forth in an epistolary fashion."Dear Gabi, The last time I wrote I talked to you instead and sent you the printed soundwave." --- "when did everything get a name? and with that name a time? a duration."

Their voices are amplified by a microphone on a stand, upending the privacy of the letter format, now restaged for an audience. The intergenerational voices are interspersed with sound effects and the tapping of a foot. Our attention to the readers themselves throws up further questions. . .as to whether the text was constructed between the two of them, or other writers? Is the conversation between them, or between us?

Momtaza Mehri: Austerity tries to limit intersectionality in many ways . Is austerity infinite? and is it a mood? / I wanted to hear more in that connection. This work is very Glissantian in its mood.  A flood of convergences. Roots. Rooting. Rootwork. . .  calling me to traditions of thinking through roots and outgrowths. I’m weary of the packaging of identity politics. This is where sedimentation comes in. / Aimé Césaire’s resignation letter from the French Communist Party comes to mind. . .  because of their lack of engagement with Cesaire – letter to head of the French Community Party feeling colonised and isolated within its ranks. He rejected an emaciated universalism, over a universal enriched by all that is particular. Cesaire, as a poet, could also be a cue to lean more into poetry - although I’m a bit biassed : )

Lisette Lagnado: I’m thinking about the expansion of writing, it is clear how the performing of writing was a strong element in this case. Reading and listening, especially during the pandemic generated a hunger for spatializing text. I also felt it could have been a radio play. I think you conjured the impossibility of defining identity. I wonder what a third voice might have brought to this? But it’s very important to embrace opacity and non-essentialism. I appreciate the vulnerability you displayed. And the importance of trembling in these times.

Barby Asante: I would have you lean more into the performance. We tend to centralise the English language. The English language is trying to reveal itself. Where is the point where the English becomes broken? English is broken here. When does English fail us? And fail to enable us to have a slip between identities. The idea you will belong, isn’t really belonging. Growing up in England, there was never going to be a sense of belonging to England - ever. So it returns me to your question. Leaving identity for….. what?


Gabriela dos Santos's "...leaving identity for?" was presented before live audience at the Posttheater in Arnhem on August 26th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2021 here: UNDERSTORY CHANT