SALTA ART * PIVÔ Research Program

During the Artist-in-Residence at PIVÔ Research Program I will be developing the third episode of AXECIDYR, a sci-fi film series which intertwines fragments of the afrofuturist legend of the so-called Drexciya civilisation with concerns around the possible consequences of deep-sea mining. For the last two years I’ve been collaborating with the sound artist Fallon Mayanja, developing this narrative together, alongside a series of sculptures and sound performances, as a result of our dialogue on the memory of colonial crimes and the unsustainable extraction of natural resources, aiming to present a decolonized ecological point of view that questions the adequacy of western science in tackling climate change. The development of this work in Brazil, building direct references for the colonial history and current extractions projects of the country, will above all expose these ideas and previous work to a perspective from the other side of the Atlantic.

Although scientific progress has made major areas of planet Earth graspable to humankind, parts of our planet still remain entirely mysterious and unknown. The environment of the deep-sea in particular, likely where life on Earth has its origins, is yet an uncharted territory hosting uncanny life forms. These endless bodies of water, I believe, are pertinent places for the construction of contemporary myths – they are projection surfaces for imagination and socio-political criticism, opaque spaces of speculation and remembrance.

My fascination for sound and underwater environments led me to take a closer look at Drexciya, an electronic music duo from Detroit active during the 1990s, particularly at the afrofuturistic nautical myth they developed in their album ‘The Quest’:

“During the greatest holocaust the world has ever known, pregnant America-bound African slaves were thrown overboard by the thousands during labour for being sick and disruptive cargo. Is it possible that they could have given birth at sea to babies that never needed air? (…)

Are Drexciyans water breathing, aquatically mutated descendants of those unfortunate victims of human greed? (…)

Do they walk among us? Are they more advanced than us and why do they make their strange music?

What is their Quest?”

The project AXECIDYR (an anagram of Drexciya) is a reformulation, an answer or a possible continuation of the underwater Drexciyan myth. It narrates the encounter of humans with the mutant civilisation, descendants of enslaved people, during an operation of extraction of ores and minerals in the deep-sea. Referring to nautical tales and legends, this story will reflect on the ecological impact of humans on the sea and their physical invasion of waters – where life once began and where it often ends. Holding onto concepts introduced by Astrida Neimanis, the project proposes to open questions around the ocean as decentralised memory, the human body holding and sustaining water, and the hydro-commons as a drift into new ways of ‘caring’.

The first group of sculptures related to the project were presented in “looking up from underneath” at Forum Arte Braga, Portugal in 2021. The exhibition featured the film “Hydrophilic Bounds”, a first episode on the science fiction series developed with the sound artist and performer Fallon Mayanja, who performed the piece “SENSING SATELLITE”, inspired by our collaboration, at the finissage of the exhibition.

The project was further developed in 2022 at the Walk&Talk residency in the Azores, resulting in the exhibition “our waters will meet” with the second film of the collaboration “Deep Sea Rising”, the public sculpture “Wave Jumper” and a series of underwater listening sessions. Me and Fallon also did a DJ set for the opening of the Festival and developed a performative excursion on the last day, sharing the references of the different layers of the film in specific locations of the island.

The third episode, to be developed within the context of the PIVÔ Research Program, is at a very early stage of conception. The narrative and conceptualisation will be developed from the experience in São Paulo and surroundings, from the moments of discussion and exchange with fellow resident artists, curator and guest speakers.

For now there is the drive to shift the focus on the Portuguese waters, with episode 1 being filmed in continental Europe and the episode 2 in the Azores Archipelago, and dwell upon the Brazil’s coast line, referring to the colonial crimes of the Portuguese throughout over 300 years and current natural resources extraction projects which replicate such violent structures. The Brazil’s exclusive economic zone (its marine territory), commonly named “Blue Amazon”, has been seen by many extraction companies as a source of many precious minerals. The São Paulo-headquartered company Oceana Minerals is one of the leading forces of deep sea mining in Brazil, to which I would like to build a reference while developing the project during the residency.

After sharing these first ideas with Debora Pill and Renate Heilmeier from Goethe Institut São Paulo, and also with the curator Ana Roman responsible for the PIVÔ Research Program, it became clear that a research trip to the northeast Brazil during my residency would be very pertinent. This area of Brazil has a very strong connection with the Atlantic Ocean, with rich popular beliefs around the maritime environment and an incredible biodiversity in terms of natural life. I would like to capture the environment of the “Blue Amazon”, which is in risk of being victim of extraction projects. There would be two possible destinations:
  • Salvador da Bahia, being the former colonial capital and the centre for afro-brazilian culture, is surely a good place to research on the memory of the Atlantic Ocean
  • Natal, the capital of the state Rio Grande do Norte, is the ideal point to explore natural landscapes over and underwater of the northeast of Brazil. It has been historically considered an important geopolitical place of the Atlantic Ocean, which would connect it strongly with the Azores archipelago, in which I worked before in the science fiction narrative.

Possible dates for reserach trip - during the month of October
2-8 October
9-15 October

But most importantly, I would like to share the first episodes of the project and establish a dialogue with Brazilian artists and researchers in Pivô, to expose my ideas to such specific context. As a Portuguese I see the emergency to work on the memory of the atrocities committed by my ancestors. This 3 months research residency in São Paulo will be a challenging and enriching experience, which will surely have an impact in my work.

So besides these general ideas on the geographical focus of the project, and of course the sci-fi narrative that has been developed in former works, the third episode of AXECIDYR is in an initial development phase. The PIVÔ Research Program would be the ideal opportunity to both write and draft the new video work, possibly filming and collaborating with artists in the city. The sculptural experimentation of reusing surpluses metals to create marine-like beings, which has been following the film-based work, can be also pursued during the residency if the time and material resources allow. By the end, I assure to have some results to be shared publicly, both in Pivô at the end of the residency, and in Munich once I’m back.


  • Research on the memorials of colonialism crimes in Brazil, in specific with the history of the trans Atlantic trade of enslaved people (possibly collaborating with other artists, honouring their work within the film)

  • Continuation of the science-fiction history of former episodes, centred in the “deep sea war” conflict between the humans species and an underwater civilisation

  • Explore non-human forms of communication (an alternative language narrating the film) to touch on other ways to relate to natural forces

  • Introduce references to Brazilian myths on aquatic beings, like Ipupiara or Negro d'Água

  • Other beliefs like Iemanjá or Dona Janaína


O Ipupiara, também chamado de homem-marinho, é uma espécie de monstro marinho que fazia parte da mitologia dos povos tupis que habitavam o litoral do Brasil no século XVI. Segundo a crença popular, ele atacava as pessoas e comia partes de seus corpos. Segundo relatos do Brasil Colônia, um Ipupiara teria sido encontrado e morto na capitania de São Vicente, no ano de 1564.[1] O historiador e cronista português Pero de Magalhães Gandavo teria descrito a criatura como tendo "quinze palmos de comprido e semeado de cabelos pelo corpo, e no focinho tinha umas sedas muito grandes como bigodes. Os índios da terra lhe chamam em sua língua Hipupiara, que quer dizer demônio d'água"

Negro D’água

Diz a lenda que o Negro d'Água ou Nego d'Água habita diversos rios, tais como o Rio Tocantins, o Rio Grande[1] e o Rio São Francisco, onde possui um monumento do escultor juazeirense Ledo Ivo Gomes de Oliveira, obra com mais de doze metros de altura e que foi construída dentro do leito do rio, em sua homenagem, na cidade de Juazeiro, Bahia.

Segundo a lenda, o Negro d'Água costuma aparecer para pescadores e outras pessoas junto aos rios. Manifestando-se com suas gargalhadas, negro, careca e com mãos e pés de pato, ele derruba a canoa dos pescadores, se eles se recusarem a lhe dar um peixe.

Em alguns locais do Brasil ainda existem pescadores que, ao sair para pescar, levam uma garrafa de cachaça e a atiram para dentro do rio, para que não tenham sua embarcação virada.

Essa história é bastante comum entre pessoas ribeirinhas, principalmente na Região Centro-Oeste do país, muito difundida entre os pescadores, dos quais muitos dizem já tê-lo visto.

Não há evidências de como surgiu esta lenda, o que se sabe é que o Negro d'Água só habita os rios e raramente sai dele. Sua função seria amedrontar as pessoas que por ali passam, partindo anzóis de pesca, furando redes, dando sustos em pessoas nos barcos, etc.

Suas características são muito peculiares: ele seria a fusão de homem negro alto e forte com um anfíbio. Apresenta nadadeiras e corpo coberto de escamas mistas com a pele


Celebrada em Ifé como filha de Olocum a divindade dos mares, essa simbiose lendária foi enaltecida no processo da diáspora africana resultando na assimilação de Iemanjá dos atributos da água salgada, sendo o motivo para a sua associação aos mares no Novo Mundo. Com o sincretismo de outras divindades e de influências europeias, foi imbuída de inúmeros atributos e poderes em uma grande variedade de cultos. O seu arquétipo maternal consolidou-se sobretudo como Mãe de todos os Orixás. Iemanjá nas palavras de D. M. Zenicola, "representa o poder progenitor feminino; é ela que nos faz nascer, divindade que é maternidade universal, a Mãe do Mundo".

No Brasil considerado o orixá mais popular festejado com festas públicas, desenvolveu profunda influência na cultura popular, música, literatura e na religião, adquirindo progressivamente uma identidade consolidada pelo Novo Mundo conforme pode ser observado em suas representações nos mais diversos âmbitos que em sua imagem reuniram as "três raças". Figura na Dona Janaína uma personalidade à parte, sedutora, sereia dos mares nordestinos, com cultos populares simbólicos e acessíveis que muitas vezes não expressam necessariamente uma liturgia.