“Nude Laying Down On A Couch, D’Après Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending A Staircase”, performative photograph by © David Pissarra with Rogério Nuno Costa (first residency at Pólo Cultural das Gaivotas, Lisbon, 2017)


Theatre performance written, directed and performed by Rogério Nuno Costa. In collaboration with Luís Lázaro Matos, Kristian Palmu and Niko Skorpio. With the support of: Rua das Gaivotas6/Teatro Praga (Lisbon), Aalto University/Kallio Stage (Helsinki), Là-Bas Studio/Kaapelitehdas (Helsinki), Museum of Impossible Forms (Helsinki), EKKM – Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (Tallinn), Teatro Feiticeiro do Norte (Funchal), Hošek Contemporary (Berlin) and Ballet Contemporâneo do Norte (Sta. Maria da Feira)

Starting Point

The upcoming theatre/performance production by Portuguese director, dramaturgist, researcher and curator Rogério Nuno Costa is planned to premiere in 2020-21, consisting in a cross-disciplinary collaboration between artists from Portugal and Finland. 1917-1921 (working title) is an ongoing research project on the intersections of Art, History and Solitude, with contributions from the fields of philosophy, literature, geography and psychology. The performance will propose a re-writing of the contemporary art history’s official narrative (post-Duchamp’s Fountain) by the means of a queer, non-normative and post-colonialist/de-colonialist lens, simultaneously suggesting a discourse that is post-historic and nostalgic. Taking the poetics of the solitary artist as a visual, literary and dramaturgical starting point, the performance will be based on an autobiographical allegory, a dialogical monologue, multilingually written in Portuguese, French, English and an imaginary Novilingua. Having the text as its central element, it will feature contributions from Portuguese visual artist Luís Lázaro Matos, Finnish sound artist Niko Skorpio, and Finnish/German light designer and video artist Kristian Palmu. The final goal is to create an oniric experience by the interconnection of text, movement and projected light/video, a dialogue between fields, but also a proposition for the creation of an artistic buffer zone, a secluded experimental laboratory where a group of artists may test the possibility of solitude one might experience while being together. In other words: the building of a “solitary togetherness”, ultimately questioning the primary notion of working collectively. At last, the performance aims to rhetorically (re)construct the alternative history of those silenced, oppressed or invisibilised. After Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure, the performance is a literary apology of failure through self-chosen isolation; not a selfish individualism, rather a “conceptual isolationism”. A healing through suffering. An ascetic and mystical experience.

“Nude Running Over A Couch, D’Après Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending A Staircase”, performative photograph by © David Pissarra with Rogério Nuno Costa (first residency for at Pólo Cultural das Gaivotas, Lisbon, 2017).

Further Conceptualisation

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp writes 1917 in an upside-down urinal. In 1919, the same artist draws a moustache in the most important portrait of the history of art, not the original one (he’s not Banksy), not even a reproduction (Pop was yet to be invented), but a portrait he painted himself, copying the “original”, and, by doing so, stating: I prefer not to. In 1921, Man Ray photographs Marcel Duchamp’s female alterego Rrose Sélavy, thus completing the full circle, or opening up the way to the artist’s disappearance. One hundred years later, we still don’t know how to deal with those radical endeavours. More than clever attempts to revolutionise, shock or transgress the art world (or to prophesy the end of art itself, some might have said…), those historical epiphenomena hide a more obscure quest for a self-imposed ostracism and loneliness, as if it was impossible to do anything more after having obliterated almost everything. Duchamp spent decades doing “nothing at all”, the reason why Vila-Matas dedicated some footnotes to him in his non-book of negative authors, those who have decided to stop pushing the pen and let their silence do the talking instead. In 1917-1921, I’m interested in reformulating Duchamp’s question, assuming self-neglect and oblivion as an act of resistance; in addition, appropriating Vila-Matas formula for the production of the text: how can one write a book that is just the footnotes of an invisible/non-existent text? Footnotes do not just festoon the text of “Bartleby & Co”; they are the text. This strategy of providing the caption with as much importante (if not more) as the captioned image, is probably one of the fundamental operational strategies of my artistic practice, both as performance artist, researcher and writer. In 1917-1921, I intend to amplify and expand that pattern; ultimately, the work will suggest an autobiographical statement about how can one perform an exercise of resistance to a commonplace — theatre as a literary, artistic and historical established order —, with the purpose of elevating failure, deviation, disruption, forgetfulness and the readymade dramaturgies of everyday life to the status of “main courses”, at the same time avoiding the problematic ethics of celebration and homage.

Performance Preview

[Museum of Impossible Forms, Helsinki, December 2018. Pictures by © Christopher Wessels]



Sep. 2017 — First Residency at Rua das Gaivotas6/Teatro Praga (Lisbon, Portugal)

Mar./Apr. 2018 — Performance Workshop at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in collaboration with Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art’s program (Espoo, Finland)

Sep. 2018 — Second Residency at Projecto Pontes/Luzlinar/O Rumo do Fumo (Feital, Portugal)

Nov. 2018 — Third Residency at Là-Bas Studio/Kaapelitehdas (Helsinki, Finland)

Dec. 2018 — Performance Preview at Museum of Impossible Forms (Helsinki, Finland)


Feb. 2020 — Fourth Residency/Rehearsals at Kaalio Stage/Aalto University (Helsinki, Finland)

Mar./Apr. 2020 — Fifth Residency in Ballet Contemporâneo do Norte (Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal)

Jun. 2020 — Sixth Residency + Second Performance Preview at Hošek Contemporary (Berlin, Germany

Oct. 2020 to Mar. 2021 — Performance Premiere in Finland, Estonia and Portugal (venues and specific dates TBA)

Dec. 2020 — Presentation at Teatro Feiticeiro do Norte (Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal)