© Alcino Gonçalves

Em Circulação > Eating your heart out by Rui Chafes and Vera Mantero, 2004

Eating your heart out

by Rui Chafes and Vera Mantero, 2004

Eating your heart out is the title of the work that represented Portugal at the 26th São Paulo Biennial, a work created by the sculptor Rui Chafes and the dancer/choreographer Vera Mantero.

The commissioner of the Portuguese representation was the critic Alexander Melo.

The Biennial of Visual Arts of 2004, in its 26th edition, commissariated by Alfons Hug had as subject 'Free Territory' associate to the ideia of 'nobody’s land', understood not only in a geographic perspective, politic or social but, mainly, as aesthetic field where the art defies the limits of the reality.


Eating your heart out is the title of the work representing Portugal at the 26th São Paulo Biennial. This unique, unseen piece, especially produced for this specific occasion, space and location, was co-devised and created by sculptor Rui Chafes and dancer/choreographer Vera Mantero.

A body that leaves the floor behind, a body that does not need the floor, is one of dance's greatest utopias. A sculpture that exists in the air, like a voice or a silence, is one of the utopias of sculpture.

The first investment of Eating your heart out is the abandonment of the floor, the vertigo of ascension, underlined by its placement within the Biennial's building, a space where a large ramp spirals, connecting the various floors, enabling the viewer to observe the piece from different heights.

The structures designed by Rui Chafes comprise two spheres in black iron that are open at the bottom, where some sort of seats hang. Each sphere is supported by three large, six- meter high, tubular legs in black iron at an oblique angle to the floor. The two structures are connected by a narrow corridor.

The first references that arise suggest observation posts, towers, lighthouses. Places that rise above ground level to enable the conquest of distance, perspective, farther sight and orientation to continue the journey; a feeling of detachment and ascension.

This idea of ascension associates with dreams of flight and voyage.

By embracing the idea of flight, images of nests and hot-air balloons can be conjured.

The contradiction between the evocation of lightness and the evidence of industrial weight, the proletarian nature of the material used and the method of construction, with the seams and the nuts and bolts clearly visible, gains further meaning. As if a factory chimney was not that different from a tree. A labyrinth of metal pipes could be a marvellous forest. We could invent a metallurgy of dreams.

We advance in this description of the work, and still nothing has happened. A structure that serves as an observation post, a supporting point, an instrument for something, but what is the reason behind this, in other words, what will happen?

The event of Eating your heart out is the body of Vera Mantero, drawn, installed, choreographed, seen, alive, and hanging from one of the spheres. This is the body that brings meaning to everything. The body is the happening by which all things happen. The miraculous body of Vera Mantero frees itself from the floor, animated by drawings that redesign it, and continues the search for its place, an extraordinary place, out of the reach of all convenient circumstances. Iron sculpture and living body. A choreography without ground, for a human being and iron and the world surrounding them.

We mentioned one body and two spheres linked by a corridor: one and two, two for one, one for two. One is left over or one is missing. Let us speak of the second investment in Eating your heart out: the evocation of the double. Acknowledging that all sculptures, or all of Rui Chafes's sculptures, seek a body, and that Vera Mantero has brought them a body, this does not mean that all has ended well and that sculpture and body, together, will live happily ever after. This encounter, as all do, implies a doubled fold. The completeness of the place suggested by the perfection of this encounter points to what is left behind, the inevitable rest of the encounter. The emptiness left beside, claiming for another body; this demand re-launches the awareness of the limits of the found body and the boundaries of our own body. The other side is missing. A body is still missing. We still can't reach the other side. Some people speak of the problems of communication. This is what we have: that which is missing, the missing body.

Bodies and works of art are little, but they are all we have. We are therefore left to Eating your heart out.

Alexandre Melo

Ficha Artística

Eating your heart out
Rui Chafes and Vera Mantero

Alexandre Melo

Helena Inverno

Organisation and production
Direcção Geral das Artes / Ministério da Cultura in collaboration with CCB

Executive production
O Rumo do Fumo


13 June 2008, DA2, International Arts Festival, Salamanca/Spain
3, 5, 6, 19, 20 February and 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 April 2005, Exhibition Center CCB, Lisbon/Portugal
Premiere - 24 - 29 September 2004, 26th São Paulo Biennial, Pavillion Ciccilo Matarazzo, São Paulo/Brazil