project image
Ricardo Basbaum

first performed on October 03, 2020
At the artist's studio, broadcasted through the internet plataform Perforcambio: incorporação, in a partnership between Embaixada da Performance Art (São Paulo) and Ateliê Terreiro (Rio de Janeiro).
performed once in 2020


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


The performance “Decolonizing with Herbs” was performed during an installation activation, which was carried out in my studio and broadcast through the internet platform Perforcambio: incorporação, in partnership between Embaixada da Performance Art (São Paulo) and Ateliê Terreiro (Rio de Janeiro). It involves an herbal bath, the archetypes of Pretos Velhos (Old Blacks), and sacred Afro-Brazilian objects. The performance script is marked by three symbolic gestures: the handling of the herbs, the singing of the Chants, and the herbal bath at the end of the action.

During the action, I illustrate the thin line that exists between artistic practice and a trance-like state, as illustrated by the seven ritual Chants, with the intention of criticizing colonialism. The major front of resistance of African people in Brazil during slavery was the clandestine cultivation of their culture, especially the embracing of the sacred. African-based religions experience great prejudice and racism in Brazil. This action, performed in between the art and the sacred and displayed through ritual elements, references the fundamental contribution of African traces present in Brazilian culture.

The bath with aromatic herbs, which is central to the performance, is a recurring gesture in the lives of practitioners engaged in the sacred Afro-Indigenous matrix. Here, the presence and beauty of the herbal component is expanded, as it is taken in an amount much larger than one person’s bath.

With the mediation of a Pretas and Pretos Velhos altar, the archetype of the magician and sage was enacted under the guise of slavery. At the archaeological site of our Atlantic history, they are the ancestral protagonists of the struggle for social equality. The movement of transits in the southern and northern seas, in order to negotiate survival policies, departs from them.

The candle lit on the table intends to bring love and freedom for the souls who lived in imprisonment, oppression, and marginalizing conditions. Our ancestry comprises Afro-Indigenous peoples that others insist on making invisible, decimating bodies and cultures. But by assembling this image, through performance and installation, we create new holograms mixing images from today and the past and, therefore, a new meaning becomes possible.