© Paulo Henrique, Paris 2011

The Skin is our largest organ and outsider protection. It gives us a vital protective layer, is crucial for our sense of touch and provides us with a highly sensitive and visible interface between our inner body and the outside world.

This piece encompasses the theme of how the “Skin” relates to: shelter, home, identity, gender, geography. It envelopes the multiple textures of the body , the voice, allowing many separate and distinct readings.
The human cell structure – “Nucleus, Cytoplasm, Membrane”, provides the ‘creative tissue’ for “Contract With The Skin” concept.
The piece opens with a  female performer as allegory to our largest organ (skin) that walks around of the tightly lit perimeter of a stage (membrane). All the movement happens inside of the space (nucleus / cytoplasm) being the home of several allegorical and symbolic performative & imagery sequences: a performer struggles to get out of her costume ‘skin’, as she appears to be trying to escape from a membrane to another ‘skin’.  The only time she dances it’s when after to hands gently create several actions with her skin belly, the protective ‘home’ and our first ‘shelter’ before birth. She dances at the sound of Edith Piaf’s (Non rien, de rien) – sung in English – underlining what we have for granted: Edith Piaf’s = France, but here singing in English – displacement / contradiction – voice being identity / geography, voice as an outsider layer that also reveals a fragmented ‘home’.

A voice over says: Is our skin contract inevitable ?… Did we choose our contract ?… A contract with the skin is inevitable !… My skin is preconceived… It is inevitable being the colour of skin that I am. Would you change your colour contract? Temporarily, socially, culturally? A contract with the skin. I am a contract with the skin. I am, politically, socially, culturally, individually, inevitably, a contract with the skin.

As the voice over goes on, a naked female dancer enters the space with a phallic, clear vase, in a symbol of a male orgasm, slowly pulls a long, dripping wet, translucent piece of plastic from the vase and dresses herself with it, a new skin that clings to her. A sense of openness, respect, and love for the human body – its shapes, its forms, its identity, it’s skin.

The skin as an envelope; it’s fluid architecture and flexibility, a constantly regenerating cover, serving as genesis of the.

“Contract With The Skin”
Concept, direction by Paulo Henrique
Performers/ dancers: Paulo Henrique, Susana Mendes, Maria Joao, Vania Rovisco, Joana Trindade
Sound by: Rui Leitao
Multimedia: Helder Luis / Manuel Granja / Paulo Henrique
Set/Design & Costumes: Catarina Campino / Andre Guedes
Production: Rumo do Fumo / CCB
Video by Paulo Henrique / Scarafone

more about Contract with the skin

La performance déformante de Paulo Henrique
MARIE-CHRISTINE VERNAY,          Libération

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