January 6, 2015
Performed: 7 hours
Studio management: Anna Shpilko
Research support: Maria Clara Carneiro Sampaio
Photo: Igor Afrikyan
I am waiting for the sky to turn cloudy. Once such a day arrives, I walk on the empty beach not too far from Sao Miguel de Milagres, a tiny village, in the northeast of Brazil, looking for a large dead fish or a turtle. Finally, I come across a gigantic turtle that died several days ago. Shooing away dozens of vultures (Port. ‘urubu’), I lay down on the sand and wait. Apprehensive at first, in 6.5 hours the vultures stop giving a damn about me– I am just a body next to their food. At sunset, a few birds are already hanging out by my side, pretending nothing is happening; they are busy pecking out the turtle's eyes.
From the days and nights I spent studying urubus’ habits, I’ve realized that they spend their days in non-stop wobbling while competing for food. On the hottest days, they pee on their own legs in order to cool themselves. When something suddenly scares them, they always vomit.
Recalcitrant slaves who died from torture or from back-breaking toil would have been thrown to urubus in a public way – for the rest to witness and to fear the same fate. A white body being eaten by black birds – an inverse image that leads to uncomfortable discourse in today’s Brazil.
My performance comes to an end when the bravest of the urubus finally gets close and decides to have a taste.