Lúcia + Madalena | Madalena Bettencourt & Lúcia Santos (English)

This work is part of a series of co-commissions by performingborders and the project performance, possession + automation. This commission is one of three from our open call for experimental writing. A version of this commission is also available in Portuguese HERE.

To listen to the text:

We keep wondering what spells are. Spells are languages, behaviors, thought-processes and thought-forms. They are mostly what we are unaware of, but at the same time they are also most of what we are. 

We like to think we are able to keep an open and observant state of what has possession over us – but truth be told – we have no idea about the extent. 

In the context of the themes in question, coming from the open call commission from performingborders + ppa, we understood how relevant the concepts of possession and automation were for our conceptualization of what a spell is. And from our understanding of what being under one implies, the development of this project went by as expected, out of conscious control.

From two people that keep trying to understand themselves through graspable things, the decision to work with objects should come as no surprise. In an attempt to explore and understand our relationship with what we possess, and are therefore possessed by, we created spell boxes for each other – as in stuff that would have defined us at some point, at that moment, or never, in a box. 

What do these objects we stick to define and/or represent about us? Is it possible to let yourself be possessed by someone else’s spells through their things? And mostly, how does our relationship to objects change if they are not charged by our own memories and feelings – do they carry the same energy to someone else besides their owners, or do they have some sort of autonomy outside of our expectations?

We opened said boxes in the beginning of January, when we began a 10-day residency strictly for playing. We then went on to develop separate bodies of work that are tied by a shared creative process. 

Não me levem as coisas, and https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wsuMLnFXWUzbHOdoAxULr3n5apnyY5c_ktgVCZOL9NY/edit are results from our exploration of eachother’s objects, mostly through combining writing and its relation to spelling, and performative practices and their connection to the memory of rituality and automation.


Não me levem as coisas,

If possible, please experience the video with headphones. The Sound Design is an important element for the understanding of the performance itself. The original texts for the performance can be found here in English and here in Portuguese.

For those who want to hear the original sound composition and recorded sounds from the performance, listen here:



https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wsuMLnFXWUzbHOdoAxULr3n5apnyY5c_ktgVCZOL9NY/edit is a functioning link, a long-term project and ever-changing tattoo.

A reflection on possession and repossession by what is as permanent as mutable. On acceptance, control and change and the thin line between spells, writing and creativity. 

Credits: Não me levem as coisas,
by Madalena Bettencourt
Director/Producer: Madalena Bettencourt
Sound composition: Madalena Bettencourt
Photography director: Ana Veiga
Photography assistant: Catarina Pinto
Video director(s): Guilherme Capa, João Miranda
Video editor: Madalena Bettencourt
Assistant: Tomás Serrão
Text translation: Clara Sprung, Lúcia Santos, Tomás Serrão, Madalena Bettencourt

Special thanks to all the team and people involved in the project, to name a few: performingborders, for the opportunity, kindness, and support; Lúcia Santos, for the precious heart and spell; António Leitão, for keeping my foot company; Ana Veiga, for the constant smile; Madalena Sousa, my inner child; Bárbara, my mom, for letting me keep my things and my great-grandmother Ema, for her love.

Credits: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wsuMLnFXWUzbHOdoAxULr3n5apnyY5c_ktgVCZOL9NY/edit
by Lúcia Santos
Video: Aryna Bokach 
Video editor: Lúcia Santos, Petra Rudolfová 
Photos / Assistant: Petra Rudolfová

Madalena Bettencourt, sound enthusiast and self-proclaimed sonoplástica, is fiercely looking to interpret the world through the exercise of listening. Beyond sculpture, she covers any discipline that allows her to treat Sound as an entity. Recently in her projects, she has approached the act of writing, and performance – finding in these moments the opportunity to explore her time in a deeper way. Since her bachelor’s degree in Sculpture, from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon, she has been involved in a series of collective and individual projects, including: “Construção de uma Utopia” artistic residency by Penumbra collective (October 2022); project “Arts 4 People and Earth”, organized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Washington DC and ARS, Fundão (2023); solo happening-exhibition “Hoje o mundo vê-se mais do que se Ouve”, in the Cistern of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Lisbon (May 2023); Biennial of Loures “Jov’Arte”, awarded with the third prize (November 2023); sound composition for performance “Duas páginas por Dia” by António Rivotti, at the cultural space “Casa Cheia”, Lisboa (January 2024).

Lúcia Santos is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in Reykjavík. After her BA in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon, she has been focusing mainly on performative practices in her projects and further learning through masterclasses and workshops.

These works are commissioned by performingborders and performance, possession + automation. Supported by Arts Council England, Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Necessity Fund.

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