I am Jôce Mendes Freitas, daughter of Rosa Mendes Freitas and Zeno Reis de Freitas. I am a sensory artist, with a diploma, degree and specialist in Scenic Art from UEA (University of the State of Amazonas). I am from Amazonas and live in the north of Manaus. I work as an actress, theater teacher and workshop leader. And I am a Laudato Si’ Animator, class 2020. In addition, I work as a youth advisor in RACJ (Network of Advisors and Caretakers of Youth).

How to be a Laudato Si’ Artist Animator?

After the Laudato Si’ Animators course, I looked at myself deeply and I felt in a very sensitive place, full of mission. After so many exchanges of knowledge, I felt part of our Common Home and more available to take care of it, assuming more responsibilities and commitments.

I began to realize that my art is more than missionary: it is political, spiritual, mystical, prophetic, ritualistic; it is presence, it has a voice, an echo, a cry, a strength, a resistance, a manifesto, and it has its own Amazonian identity to be and to do.

I wrote an article with the title “My Body, Common Home”, an encounter of care with myself, with the others, from the perspective of the consequences of disregard and neglect with water, earth, air and fire, that is, the elements of nature. Faced with this reality of life for the inhabitants of the planet, we cannot stand by and watch our common home being killed by carelessness and lack of sensitivity. 

Being a Laudato Si’ Animator transformed me into a woman who positions herself in all dimensions, especially as an artist who manifests herself. 

“Manifesting from Mother Earth, through her pains, echoes, cries and moans. The earth is our mother, who gives us life freely and offers us all the elements of nature (earth, air, fire and water) and we are not listening to her cries. I manifest in brother Air, for so much pollution, for the smoke, for the dirty air: without our brother air, we do not have the balance of nature, of inspiration and expiration, of breath, of respiration, of the breeze, of its own wind, and of course of the oxygen we need to live. I am a manifesto of brother Fire for its fires, environmental impacts: with its absence, how will we warm our body with its heat, how will we have energy? I am a manifesto of sister Water for so much garbage thrown in it, and in its rivers, waterfalls, lakes and streams, for its scarcity.how will we water the plants? If it runs out, we will thirst to death”.

This manifesto is also part of the cry of our artistic intervention after the Laudato Si’ Animators course. Mara Pacheco, a sister friend, and I, felt called to make this intervention because we talk a lot about environmental issues, especially in the Amazon, and we are in the midst of a pandemic. The course opened our eyes to make this life commitment to Mother Earth.  

In the performance, I am the Negro River and Mara is the Solimões River. Both performances relate to people, we are bodies moved by water, rivers, banzeiros; we relate to space, senses, smells, smells, tastes, sound, objects found in the streets, garbage, elements of nature, earth, air, fire and water. Brother sun, sister moon and sister star, during the performance take and carry the pain, the garbage, the sadness of a world without brakes and without ecological care.

In this immersion into rivers, lakes and streams, our body was sensitized, cried, moaned, screamed and resonated with all the creatures of the world. That is why we understand that it is urgent that the common home and the care of Mother Earth are connected and interconnected.

Mother Earth made us understand that I am earth, as the song of Grupo Imbaúba says: “We are part of her and she is part of us“, and with this feeling of belonging and this ecological awareness we understand that our bodies Rio Negro and Rio Solimões are “artivists” (activist artists) who denounce the pain and oppression we are inflicting on our common home.

Transformation and mission

As a Laudato Si’ Animator I needed to make a mission, to challenge myself, to put into practice my writings and my experiences in the course, to allow myself to be a Black River, which in essence was the opposite of me, a calm, serene and light body. When I started, I confess that I identified more with Solimões, which is a stronger and faster river, in a hurry. But, as it was part of my process of change, I chose the challenge of being Rio Negro and became poetry and lightness, slowing down, listening more, warming up, calming down without losing the strength, energy and courage to make a mission on this sacred ground.

These performances were so reflected in my common body-home, that I adopted a healthier lifestyle, full of lightness, more committed to myself, respecting my body and my limits with the meditative practices of yoga. 

I radically adopted some practices such as not drinking sodas, not eating meat, not drinking milk of animal origin, not consuming preserves or sausages, and I am consuming more vegetables, fruits and leafy greens. After all, there is a vegetable garden here at home: why not eat healthier? These new habits healed me, made me realize the potential of my body to have more energy, confidence and wisdom to assume myself as an artivist, that is, a guardian of mother earth.

We need to stimulate and see what is in front of our eyes and we do not see it. The dirt, the environmental impact, the packaging, the garbage, the scarcity, but also its strength that makes us think how much power nature has. The more we destroy, the stronger it is; however, we need to be aware, to feel a river, to feel that we belong to this water.

We need to transform our life and community into a cleaner and more caring place, that is: to provoke critical thinking about the importance of water for our common body-home and for mother earth.

We still have many questions, especially how we can keep alive the rivers that still survive. But we are certain of one thing, and it is that we were moved and sensitized to continue manifesting the existence, resistance, memory and history of these rivers that now live in us, because, we could only understand their communion in us because during the performances we were traversed by their diversities, manifestations and intensities. For this reason, we feel we belong and we will continue to resonate wherever we go, assuming ourselves as guardians of these body-rivers.

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