His practice explores personal and political heritage within the context of discourse on belonging, nationalism and migration. Through theatrical, durational performance and moving image, he explores the dichotomies between the live experience and agency in the performance space, as well as written text and queer methodologies of performance and research.
Xavier is currently developing a trilogy of works about belonging and power structures, kickstarted with his first theatre show, POST (touring). He is currently developing a new durational theatre show, REGNANT, to premiere in 2021. Alongside his work, Xavier curates the digital series queeringborders, live programme performingbordersLIVE and New Queers on the Block, The Marlborough Theatre’s Touring and Artist Development Programme.
Previously, he has collaborated with Tim Etchels, Rosana Cade, The Famous Lauren Barri-Holstein, and presented work with Latitude Festival, Tate Modern, METAL Culture, Southbank Centre, The Yard Theatre (UK), Warehouse9 (DK), CITEMOR Festival, Teatro do Bairro Alto (Portugal), Operastate Festival (Italy), Onassis Culture Centre (Athens), IIT Gujarat (India), Kalamata Dance Festival (Greece), Más Allá Del Muro Festival (Mexico), amongst others.
CONTENT WARNING: Some partial nudity and sweating
‘Homesickness if never going away because you miss your childhood, not necessarily your country’ – Judita Gru, poet
This year I have spent a lot of time ‘back home’, in Montemor-o-Velho, the village in rural Portugal that I grew up in. The purpose of my stay was, for the first time, not to do with visiting family or friends, but for a residency in the local performing arts festival, CITEMOR.
Beyond the feelings of nostalgia and longing for some resemblance of calm – probably a consequence of being 35 and still a migrant – this temporary return allowed me to explore some of my deep seated feelings of uncomfortableness in the town and in return, the country.
It was the imposing Castle that sits on top of the village, that Rei Afonso IV ordered Atlantic expansions of colonialism – known locally as ‘discoveries’. It was also there that he ordered the killing of Inês de Castro, a migrant servant to the princess who had fallen in love and had children with the prince. A statue of her still sits at the entrance to the village, her back hunched and her head bowing to the village today. The man who commissioned it, and the man who designed it, say that it represents her ‘asking for forgiveness to the village’. I want them both to go fuck themselves.
Below the Castle, in the West part of the village, a fair of local producers sell food, hand-made crafts and second-hand materials. You see people from all backgrounds there, perhaps the only place in the village where that happens. There’s a lively vibrancy that happens in that part of town, every Wednesday morning. It’s beyond mercantilism, or trade. It’s people coming together and co-existing. They eat, talk, trade jokes, gossip and shout.
I decided recently that I will never ask for forgiveness. So I decided to embed myself in the village and in the history of Portugal as a colonial country. This is a rough, very rough, outcome of that.
Conceived and performed by Xavier de Sousa
Filmed by Ana Rocha & Xavier de Sousa
Edited by Hugo Barbosa & Xavier de Sousa
It was lovely to get a glimpse into what our Netherlands-based residency artists have been up to during their stay with us, at their sharing event on Friday. Chiara Tammaro, Tom Dijkstra and Sijas de Groot stayed with us over the past two weeks at Convention House, and over their time discovered Leeds, studios in the city, and local communities.