Fragmentation is the first step in a depotentialization of space

The urban intervention project A última palavra é a penultima (The last word is the penultimate) occupied a once upmarket, glamorous underpass linking the Municipal Theatre and the São Paulo Opera; inaccessible to the public for decades and locked behind heavy-duty metal gates, the passage had become a scenery of degradation. 

The decomposition of the “I”

In a reversal of the spectator-performer relationship, the audience is seated inside shop windows lined with reflective film in an apparatus of voyeurism. Surveillance monitors transmit intermittent images from the action on street level. As streams of performers and passer-by’s – street children, drunks, drug pushers, rough sleepers, businessmen, Franciscan monks, a stray dog – flow down the stairs through the underpass in constantly evolving movement patterns, there is an element of menace and unpredictability. Confined to the shop windows, an audience on edge. 

“The energy – mad, captive, bursting to explode – ensures that the images never last, they merge with the detonation, the combustion, the dissipation of their condensed energy. Nine hundred and ninety-eight times in a thousand you fail and nothing appears. And when you succeed, the sublime image invades the screen”

Inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s visionary essay L’épuisé, A última palavra looks at what transcends when every path has been explored, every combination tried, all options exhausted; what emerges in the void. 

“Only the exhausted can exhaust the possible, because he has renounced all need, preference, goal or signification. When the possible has been drowned out with words, atoms are divided and split into pieces, and as the very words are depleted, the stream is stopped.”

“The image is a pant, a breath, but expelled on the way to extinction. The image is what dies away, wastes away, a fall. It is a pure intensity, which defines itself as such through its height- its level above zero, which is only described in falling. To exhaust space is to extenuate its potentiality through rendering any meeting impossible.”

A state so drained of solutions it paradoxically gives rise to something unexpected.

“The end will have happened long before we are able to understand it has happened; everything will continue automatically, until the order arrives to stop everything. What will be the last word, and how might it be recognized?”

Gilles Deleuze – L’Épuisé

Cast & Crew

A project by Teatro da Vertigem (São Paulo/Brazil) Zikzira (Brazil/UK) and LOT (Lima/ Peru)
Directed by André Semenza & Fernanda Lippi (Zikzira) Carlos Cueva (LOT) Eliana Monterio (Teatro da Vertigem)

Lot: Erica Aguilar, Lucía De Maria, Rafael Mendieta
Teatro da Vertigem: Flávia Maria (cantora), Luciana Schwinden, Marília de Santis, Miriam Rinaldi, Pardal, Roberto Audio, Sergio Siviero
Zikzira: Macarena Campbell, Fernanda Lippi (Virada Cultural – São Paulo’s 24 hour culture event), Marçal Costa

Lighting Designer: Guilherme Bonfanti Art Director: Marcos Pedroso
Sound engineer: Kako Guirado Costume Design: Marcos Nasci
Soundtrack: The Hafler Trio Mix: Evaldo Luna/ Estúdio Três Orelhas
Philosophical guidance: Peter Pál Pelbart Artistic Consultant: Antônio Araújo
Photos: Nelson Kao Press person: Márcia Marques (Canal Aberto)
Director of Production: Henrique Mariano (H2E Produções) and Teatro da Vertigem