We recently spoke to Barros, an Amsterdam-based performance Artist, as part of our new Amsterdam Faces series, highlighting young creatives in the Netherlands. Barros moved to the Netherlands from Brazil when they were young and is currently studying choreography/performance art at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. Sitting down with the upcoming artist gave us interesting insights into the world of performance art as well as self-confidence while embracing your uniqueness.
It’s nice to meet you, nice that you’re here. How are you?
I’m good. I feel good to be back. I haven’t been here in Amsterdam for the past five weeks.
Oh wow! Where have you been?
I was recovering somewhere warm basically. I had an accident and I wasn’t able to go to school. But yeah, I’m happy to be back now. I’m good. I’m good. How are you?
I’m good myself, thanks. Can you give me and our audience a little insight into what you do in your creative practice?
I’m a dancer / performer and also choreographer. What I do (and what I study) is creating pieces and new ways of developing dance . So that’s what I have been doing for the past two years and I still have another two years of my bachelor at the AHK. My practice shows a lot about me of course, but also my environment and the things that have affected me – or affected other people around me. I then try to translate this into movement, add some elements to the performance.
Is this something that you’ve always been interested in? Has performance always been something you have wanted to do?
It’s really funny because I never thought that I would be doing performance! Even though I’ve always been involved in ‘performance’. I also did a lot of years of Capoeira back in Brazil; the Brazilian dance fight. So I would always be involved in dance at school, using my body in a lot of different ways. But, yeah, for some reason I never really thought that would be something that I would be doing… maybe because I was always too busy trying to see what else I could do. A few years back – when I moved to Amsterdam – I knew that I wanted to begin something creative and I went through many phases, eventually I ended up really falling in love with performance again. And that’s why I decided to start studying it.
Super nice! And how does your medium allow you to explore the creative landscape? Are there other mediums your performances intersect with?
That’s the thing about performance. I feel like all different forms of media can be incorporated into the act of performance. I work with sound and I also work on video and I also work with other things that are always somehow included in the performance…because it’s not only the body. You always have to think about the context. You also always think about the lighting, the sound and you always have to think about how you are going to come across for the audience.
What is your main source of inspiration or where do you draw your creative energies from?
Like I mentioned, I use a lot of my own personal experiences. But I also use a lot of things from my background, such as religion for example. I grew up very religious and today I’m not. So I try to use all these elements that have something to do with me and that other people can also relate to. Alongside this, I try to give them other meanings, you know? For example, when I work with images, particulary images that everybody knows, and I try to change/adapt these visuals. My work is not very explicit, but somehow people can often make connections with the things that they’ve seen before but from a different perspective.
I think, as artists, it’s always important that we channel our emotions and our experiences into something that can evoke a feeling in someone else.
Exactly. Because a lot of these elements that i use in performance are quite difficult to the outside eyes, it’s more about how these elements relate to people‘s personal frames of reference. They see something and they connect it with something else that they have an experience with.
And you don’t have to always understand the full story, you can just see how you feel and how your body reacts to it. How does Amsterdam influence you in the way that you do art or that you perform?
Amsterdam influences me a lot. When I moved here (like six years ago), going out, meeting so many different people from different places I found everybody to be super welcoming. People are just really free, which helped me a lot to understand myself and to find out what I wanted to do. I feel like Amsterdam is also a bubble in a way, it feels safe for you to explore different things and do different things. It’s also easy to come back to the city because you always have familiar people around you.
Being in this safe and open environment definitely makes it easier to explore, to find yourself or rediscover who you are.
Exactly. I have the feeling that I can go wild in a way but also make a living. I can combine all the things that I want in one place. I think this is really nice.
If you look back, or if you look at where you are now, what do you think is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned so far working in the creative field?
Just like, not caring about other people’s opinion, you know? I mean, I still struggle a lot with it, and it’s something that I know a lot of other people also struggle with, because we are always making work, and people are entitled to their opinion but it is important to remember that you’re making work for yourself! Not only for the other people, you know? We all need to focus more on that, because at the end of the day, what other people think is none of my business. They’re going to watch it, whether they think that it’s bad or not.
I couldn’t agree more. What message would you like to spread through your work?
I think my body is a political body, and I take that very seriously. I’m a person of color, I’m Brazilian, I’m an immigrant. So I feel like me being on the stage, it’s already saying a lot, and is already saying more than I could ever say with words. Also being Queer and trying to navigate through a super fucked up world. That’s the message that I’m definitely expressing currently… even without saying anything.
Is there anything else on your mind that you’d like to share with me or with the Glamcult audience?
Yes. As I mentioned, I had an accident which made me question a lot about what I’m doing, particularly as I use my body as a way of expression. But this has also shown me that it’s something that I really want. I just think that as people, even when we’re going through difficult times, we should always try to do what we want to do, no matter the odds.
And it can still teach you something…
Exactly. You can always see things in a different way or from a new perspective.