Agua de Colónia (...) arranges a mutual complex of references around the dialectics of body and mind. (...)

The video piece Talvez eu seja daqui (Perhaps I am from here…), directed by Rute Rosas in 2004, shows her standing in the sea of Prainha (Small Beach), Rio the Janeiro. Her frontal nudity, hieratic, is outlined against the dynamic background of the sea, whose waves incessantly reach the shore; the water falling on her head runs down her body and joins the sea which covers her feet and from which her body seems to emerge. The plastic and iconographic cohesion of the naked body on the natural setting, mediated by the preponderant presence of water, encloses a whole of connotations around the idea of regeneration and creative potentiality. (...) In iconographic terms, the sea indicates the rhythmic and cyclic movement of water, adjusted to the orbit of the moon, in its turn assimilated since pre-historical time to the woman’s cycle of fertility, in a symbolism of fertility that brings together water, woman and the moon, and encompasses all planes of existence, from reality to nature, for man and for the universe. Moreover, immersion is the equivalent to death or the cataclysm that periodically dissolves the world in the primordial ocean; immersion breaks all the forms of the past, restores fleetingly the integrity of the beginning, it redeems, purifies and regenerates, in a temporary reintegration into the formlessness followed by a new birth; those who emerge arrive clean, able to receive the new revelation, a new life. (...)
Underlying the symbolism of water there is, hence, the idea of re-enactment of the fabulous illud tempus of creation. The “living water”, seen as existing somewhere in the sky, pours down with a healing and fertilizing effect; life, strength and eternity are contained in this water that remakes the creation, taking out that which should be dissolved, restoring the primordial unity and propitiating the new creation. In Talvez eu seja daqui, as in other Rute Rosas’s pieces, Da Terra ao Céu (From Earth to Heaven) and Karnapidásana de 2004, the nudity of the body is auspicious and elementary, ontological: it signals the advent of the change of the mode of being; it exposes the individual vehicle through which one arrives to a non profane mode of being. The body that emerges represents an identity in its most divested condition, acquiring through the “living water” the creative fertilization of the place, in a regression into the primordial time, reinstating and amending the nostalgia according the first Brazilian avant-garde, as it is announced by Oswald de Andrade in his poem Erro de Português (Portuguese Mistake) of 1925:

When the Portuguese arrived
Under a pouring rain
He dressed up the Indian
What a shame!
Had it been a sunny morning
The Indian would have stripped
The Portuguese

It is also in that sense that we may interpret the piece Baptismo/Viagem/Nostalgia (Baptism/Journey/Nostalgia) (fig.1), on a direct continuity with Talvez eu seja daqui. Baptismo/Viagem/Nostalgia is a shower device with the shape of a cylinder, protected by a curtain: a surge of light takes the place of the running water; the floor is covered with salt, releasing the mixed sounds of running water and of a Portuguese guitar, discretely spreading over the space of the exhibition. Baptismo/Viagem/Nostalgia incorporates elements of other experiences, namely from Da Terra ao Céu (From Earth to Heaven) and Karnapidásana of 2004, its iconography present on the curtain of the shower, that displays two large scale photographic prints of an image showing Rute performing a retroflex position with a double of herself. This position is part of a group of Yoga ásanas, performed for the set Da Terra ao Céu, and retrieves that universe of signification: the passage from a profane mode of being to a non-profane mode of being through a psycho-physical-technology that promotes the direct and empirical experience with the body/mind complex. This change or passage of plane of existence – a break through profane time and space that institutes the experience of a non-profane, non-quotidian reality – is suggested here by the symmetrical outline of the retroflex position’s image. (...)
The piece Mala do meu corpo… (Do meu umbigo de prata/Do meu beijo de prata/Do meu dedo de prata/Do meu mamilo de prata) / Suitcase of my body… (Of my silver navel/Of my silver kiss/Of my silver finger/Of my silver nipple) (fig. 2), displays silver replicas of parts of her body, a process the artist develops since 2003, set out with Beijos de Prata (Silver Kisses). The presentation of fragments of her own body is recurrent on Rute’s self-referential, multisensory and proprioceptive discourse, and includes experiences such as Fragmentos de Corpo (Fragments of Body) (2003), Porto 2001/Rio de Janeiro 2003 (2004), e Objectos Espelho (Mirror Objects) (2005). Rute explains these fragments of herself: «They are the woman’s donations: they are thimbles of seamstresses, navels of mothers, mouths that kiss and nourish, nipples that nourish and are kissed, sucked and licked for mutual pleasure, little fingers that button up their lover’s shirt». The expression of affection, preferably related to the deployment of the body/mind complex within the elementary actions, necessary for subsistence, tranforms these inanimate objects into something more that imitative representations of an original body; evocative replicas of the elementary actions, these significant fragments recollect the original actions of which they are the icon, ensuring that the former will never be merely automatic or meaningless, but events always charged with the vitality of the original action, with the availability, spontaneity and potentiality of the mode of being of the original moment. Hence, the fragments of the body express the original actions as so many daily pretexts to transcend the sphere of the profane, of the quotidian, in order to enact the passage from a profane mode of being to a non profane, or sacred, mode of being. It is this same original and instructive mythical structure, where the repetition of a significant action is consecrated with all the energy of its original action, that presides to the making of Pele de Embrulho, wrapping paper, and Pele de Embrulho na TV Shop (Wrapping Skin on TV Shop) (fig. 3), video installation piece of 2005, in which Rute homologizes the act of embracing and the act of wrapping with the enveloping and affectionate sense of donation, gift or present: «When we hand someone a gift, we symbolically embrace that person. The act of enveloping/wrapping up the present is in itself an embrace». Complementary to the exhibition Água de Colónia, Rute is implementing a project of public art on the streets of São Paulo, entitled Abraça-me (Hug Me) (fig. 4), spreading on the walls between the space of the Biennial and Galeria Virgílio the image of this embrace with the word hug me in several idioms.

(retirado do texto do catálogo da exposição Água de Colónia, projecto expositivo realizado em parceria com Isaque Pinheiro, Galeria Virgílio, S. Paulo. Brasil. Outubro/Novembro, 2006)

ANDRADE, Oswald de, Poesias Reunidas, (prefácio de Haroldo de Campos, 5ªedição, publ. orig. 1945), Editora Civilização Brasileira, 1978, p. 177.
Água de Colónia means Eau de Cologne and, at the same time, bears the strict meaning of ‘water of the colony’, a sense to be taken within a post-post-colonial context…
ANDRADE, Oswald de, Poesias Reunidas, (preface by Haroldo de Campos, 5th ed., orig. publ. 1945), Editora Civilização Brasileira, 1978, p. 177. On the original: Quando o português chegou/Debaixo duma bruta chuva/Vestiu o índio/Que pena!/Fosse uma manhã de sol/O índio tinha despido/O português.
See note 1.