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Sergio Zevallos and Luisa Ungar

For the finissage of Exercises in Transformation, Sergio Zevallos, in collaboration with artist Luisa Ungar, invites the audience to engage in a performative act of communicating with HKW’s architecture as a site inscribed by political and geopolitical histories.


The performance In the Belly of Democracy: Large Divided Oval approaches the building as a body that is imprinted with symbols inherited from the Cold War.By proposing a parkour through the building, a series of exercises make room to listen to and speculate on the present moment, in an accumulation of reflections on failed democracies, freedom of speech, resistance to censorship, and their connections with Latin America histories, where both artists migrated from.

The performance tackles the Henry Moore sculpture Large Divided Oval: Butterfly (1987), located in the Violeta Parra Pond and, as with many of Moore’s public works of the post-war era, regarded as an allegorical symbol of Western democracy. Through this engagement, the performance fosters various dialogues and clashes with the semiotics of political values and their historic and current manifestations.

What does this sculpture tell us about the lived experience of this idea of democracy? The butterfly—a symbol of transformation for many cultures and an insect whose body transforms throughout its life cycle—remains static here, like a floating ideal, deprived of movement and unable to fly. Pointing at this stagnation, the artists attempt to enter and awaken the body of the building. Thus, they issue a warning: it’s dark in the belly of democracy and only at moments, when it opens its mouth to swallow, do rays of light come in.

Meeting point: Miriam Makeba Auditorium

Free entry, limited number of participants
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