VIDEO-ISLAND: Intermedial performance and agency in Honey Island

Roderick Steel

Interdisciplinary research into anthropology, psychology, and literature reveals that islands are present in the founding myths of many societies and cultures, and provide universal source imagery for the formulation of utopias and paradise on earth. Ilha do Mel (“Honey Island“) in the state of Paraná, Brazil, was such a paradise until the advent of tourism in the 80s caused a shift away from fishing and rural craftsmanship. Recently, a controversial project to build a port in nearby Pontal do Paraná threatens to destroy the environment and expel indigenous communities from the area.
This paper will transform “Honey Island” into an intermedial space through the presentation of excerpts of a 90-minute film, called “Ínsula”. The presentation will discuss how this film was developed in partnership with a group of 8 women at the ENCOSTA Artist Residency, on the Island, steeped within a political scenario that has mobilized hundreds of artists and activists in the movement “Save Honey Island”  ( Encosta residency was founded by Gio Soifer, an artist who has accompanied the fight to stop the port’s construction from its inception. In partnership with dozens of NGOs, tourist agencies and university research agencies, this movement has organized public debates, intervened in governmental actions and produced dozens of videos which feature contributions by some of Brazil’s best known public figures. The film “Ínsula” merges ethnographic observation of day-to-day island life, including a meeting between port engineers and locals, with a series of performances created around the island. It uses 4-screens to Intersect these collective imaginaries with videos produced by the “Save Honey Island” Movement. Multiple connections and agencies are brought together as the collective body of these performers and artists become synonymous with the Island’s own body, itself re-configured as a multi-screen video-body. The film that results from this practice-based research explores how performance art and experimental audiovisual dispositifs can allow artists with a strong background in anthropology to be what Appadurai calls “mediators, facilitators, and promoters of the ethics of possibility.” Insula is a work-in-process, but should be completed by October 2020.

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