Mayra Sérgio

Performing Loss, Part I – The Voluntary Psychopomp

2021. 20 min, 3 channel video. Co-directed with Mathilde Renault.

Performing Loss derives from the sudden death of my father. As an atheist and an immigrant living in the Netherlands, I realized that I didn't have any rituals of mourning. Looking for new strategies, I took an ethnic DNA test.

The DNA of one individual can tell about the history of colonization, immigration, and cultural exchanges. My own result is a typical Brazilian mishmash: Amerindian, Portuguese, Sardinian, North African, Nigerian, Baltic and Finnish. Aiming to form a narrative bigger than myself, I chose to visit the triangulation of my country's colonial history: Portual, Brazil and Nigeria.

The result is twofold: Part I – The Voluntary Psychopomp, a three-channel video that narrates the search for a ritual, and Part II – Through the Mouth, a performance in which the alteration of cassava root is reimagined as a grieving ritual.

Mixing scientific data about the neuroscience of ritual and Brazilian genetics with the rawness that can only derive from first person accounts, the three-channel film portrays a contemporary psychopomp as a craftswoman.

Writen by Mayra Sérgio, Directed by Mayra Sérgio and Mathilde Renault, Cinematography by Mathilde Renault and Pierre Clément Nivière, Edting by Mathilde Renault, Sound design by Andrés García Vidal, Coreography by Marlieke Burghouts, Extra footage Brasil Sofia Safaad, Extra footage Portugal Flora Lahuerta, Research Brasil Sofia Safaad, Research Portugal Flora Lahuerta, Research Nigeria Cecile Tafanelli, Wood carving adviser Daan Simons, Wood smoking adviser Niels Hendriks, Interns Ida Leijting and Cecile Hübner, Narrated by Mayra Sérgio, Michelle Son and Laura Dubourjal-Bergé, Subtitles by Michelle Son.