LABIA – Residency of Joana Castro

  • Performance
  • transdisciplinar


May 12 - 31 2024


All Day
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"LABIA - part of the body that looks like a lip; attempt to convince someone through cunning speech, cunning, cunning, astuteness; (Portugal:Minho) Reliquary; Runner insect; set formed by the small and large lips of the vulva.

LABIA is a project in continuous investigation starting from Monique Wittig's statement "Lesbians are not women" and in the multiple paths that followed after, such as the issues of gender performativity and the total deconstruction of the idea that sex is merely biological by Judith Butler or other thinkers and thinkers like Paul B. Preciado, who analyse and question political norms and current social, cultural and sexual structures.
For Wittig, lesbians, even though they are within heterosexuality as a political regime, do not participate in it. They do not have a love relationship with men, they do not have sex with men, they do not depend on men economically, nor do they produce a bond with them. Otherwise, Wittig's lesbians are not cis because they are not women, they are deserters. Amazons, mythological monsters that survive in the memory of our bodies to this day. These same monsters threaten the heteronorms of recognition that excluded them, calling stability into question, questioning the tranquility of human status, denouncing the purity and impurity of the whole body, they break the binary, violate regularity, modesty, they play politics with their bodies, destroying moral norms, expressing their ways of life as resistance. They destabilize, shake, upset, mobilize, affect, contaminate and stir the waters, making other lives possible to be lived - stronger, more joyful, more powerful - in the here and now.

This research project is based on the construction of a body-monster with several monsters inside, in the discovery of its infinite possibilities of destruction and (re)construction. A body born in the failure of a hetero-capitalist political regime. An abominable body, which allows itself to exist in the depths, shaking cemented territories and a corrupt and corrupted system. Like a root that springs from stones and spreads, opening cracks in established paradigms. A body in constant becoming, never human, but on the fringes of humanity, on the edge, without territory, but empowered. A mermaid becoming that dives into the depths of ancestry in a new way of living with the animals, with the dead and with the planet as a corpse and ghost. The celebration of a mourning. As a consequence, a relationship with death and an initiation to life, "in a system of interspecies communication", without sovereignty or hierarchy. An animalist feminist body - not humanist and not naturalist. - "Animalism is an expanded, non-anthropocentric feminism." Paul B. Preciado.
A shapeless figure, in its expansion and transmutability. With its insides inside out on the tongue, in an abyssal grimace. A subversive body that recognises itself in its essence and beyond.

How can one construct a becoming-animal-machine, when a body designated as "woman", "animal" and "reproductive machine" is destroyed and constructed in its techno-living potency?

As my work is autobiographical, inevitably life and art come closer together, in an intersection where the limits are almost imperceptible. Besides issues like death, mourning, destruction, failure and end rituals crossing my personal life and invading my creations, gender issues are transversal to my creative universe, in a research of a body that deconstructs its image and operates in states BETWEEN - at the threshold of the borders of the human, without gender.
As a non-binary lesbian person, whose existence undermines the very norm of a hetero-capitalist political regime, and who every day faces the conflict between what one is supposed to be and the choice of what one is and/or wants to be, I seek a becoming-other, without fixation or closure in a single existential and conditional plane, challenging those same norms, as a person and as an artist.
"The body is never alienated from its context, this is situated, and in its material condition it is determined, but what it comes to be, is a choice, even if conditioned by this difficult to deconstruct materiality, which is the body." Fernanda Henriques.
We are born with social and cultural conditioning, and it is impossible to see the world with total transparency, and as we grow more filters are added, tightening the circle and conditioning us, and without us noticing, we are already part of a control system as watched and vigilant beings. The perfect system of control and production of beings subjected to their hetero-capitalist subjectivity.

"The desires of the body of the mutant lesbian becoming cannot occupy the place of the human and must not fight for a place where the subject of hegemonic heterosexual masculinity is found" Leonor Silvestri in "Springtime with Monique Wittig".
The task of the lesbian mutant body of becoming is the demolition of this civilisation from its foundation, in recognising the structuring structures of our lives that exclude and discriminate, denouncing and destroying them.
Mutant figures that express the limits of identity categories and their intersections are urgent. To mix the genders and to metamorphose the bodies beyond the categories of identity, to disperse human subjectivity in "animal-machine-platforms-ofopen-source-technology-live-connected" Donna Haraway.

Not forgetting language as a value system that makes the world we live in real. We only access the world we conceptualize and name, and, therefore, it is urgent to understand that everything that does not exist in language does not exist in our world, so we have to break with fears and prejudices, in search of the transformation of language in order to include and not discriminate. We have to "denaturalize" what we have as "natural", recognizing and destroying the discriminating structures and searching for new rationality structures. (Re)mean, (re)construct concepts and inclusive ways of operating.
I am interested in a more practical research the use of the tongue, as part of the body that mixes food, contributes to the action of swallowing, expelling, shapes words, gives sonorities and textures to sound, as the possibility of a new LABIAN language/linguage, where there is no place for sectoring and hierarchization.

During my individual and artistic journey, I have been carrying out incessant experimentation and research, in a search to reach a certain depth, between dives into darkness and returns to light, with its detours and rediscoveries.
Having in my last projects directed other people in a search for a relationship between my own and other personal and artistic universes, this moment is a return to a research of my own body as matter, as a situating, a reconnecting and a rediscovery of other compositions that are part of this being and this body now, In a relation, which is intended to be horizontal, with other elements such as the light design (by Vera Martins) that will architecturally define the scenic space, and the sound design (artist to be defined) that will be created together with electronics and wind instruments in relation to the voice of this body. The performance will gradually build itself in a dive and confluence of all the elements that compose it. It is therefore a project with an artistic direction, but of collaboration between artists in a permanent listening and collective construction".

Joana Castro


Artistic and technical file:

Conception, art direction, performance, text and voice_Joana Castro


Light design and scenic space_Vera Martins



Joana Castro (ile/ela/they/she).
Artist who develops his projects between dance, performance and sound, having presented some of his works in Portugal, France, Belgium, Germany and Brazil. Of his creations in the area of dance/performance he highlights "Close... as much as possible" (2014), "EVERLASTING" (2016), "SU8MARINO" (2017/18), "RITE OF DECAY" (2019/20), "STILL we MOVE" (2021), "Darktraces" (2021) and "Darktraces: on ghosts and spectral dances" (2022).
Besides issues such as death, mourning, destruction, failure and end rituals crossing her personal life and invading her creations, gender issues are transversal to her path, in a research of a body that de(re)constructs its image and operates in states BETWEEN - at the threshold of the frontiers of the human, without gender. She develops LABIA, a transmuting research project with a permanent processual character, with several artistic residences and presentations during 2023 and 2024.



Joana Castro