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Brazilian artist Wagner Schwartz performs an interactive and participatory solo, in which he is reactivating the famous figure of the Bicho (or “Beast”), the adjustable metal sculpture which the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark produced as a series in the early 1960s. The performer begins by manipulating a plastic replica of the original object, and playing with its system of hinges, before inviting the audience to do likewise, this time with a different kind of beast: his own naked body. Schwartz’s performance of La Bête in 2017 at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo, when a video of the naked artist being touched by a young child was shared online, incited an extensive hate campaign targeting the artist, the museum, and cultural workers.


The Nakedness of the Imperfect Copy — a conversation between Wagner Schwartz and André Lepecki

Thursday, February 15 at 6pm
Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts at the Richard Schechner Studio (721 Broadway, 6th Floor) with professor André Lepecki


In September 2017, after performing his solo work “La Bête” (“The Animal” or “The Beast”) in several international art venues since 2005, the Brazilian dancer and choreographer Wagner Schwartz saw himself at the epicenter of brutal attacks from the extreme right in Brazil, after presenting his famous work at the 35th Brazilian Art Panorama, at MAM-SP (the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo). Wagner, as well as his close family and friends, were threatened to death; the curators were summoned under duress to a Senate hearing in Brasília; and the performance became the excuse for the unleashing of rabid and coward attacks against LGBTQIA+ people in Brazil—animating with renewed homo- and trans-phobic energy the candidacy Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency of Brazil. Wagner Schwartz will engage in a conversation with André Lepecki about this piece, the controversy in 2017, the relation between performance, dance and the political, but also about his broader artistic work as one of the most influential Brazilian choreographers working today in the eve before presenting “La Bête” at NYU’s Skirball
Content advisory: Please note this performance contains nudity.
Note: audience is general admission on stage for this performance.
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About Wagner Schwartz
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1972, Wagner Schwartz lives and works between São Paulo and Paris. After studying modern literature, he participated in several groups of choreographic research and experimentation in South America and Europe. He has created 12 pieces since 2003, for which he has been awarded several prizes. In 2021, he became resident at the Cité International des Arts, winner of the program established by the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation. In 2022, he was invited by ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) to participate at a PEN International residency in Antwerp (PEN Vlaanderen)—supported also by a grant from the Open Society Foundations. In 2023, he was supported by PEN America’s Artist at Risk Connection.

Zvonimir Dobrović (curator)

Founder and Artistic Director of Queer Zagreb and Perforations festivals as well as Executive Producer of Sounded Bodies Festival in Croatia. He has been an invited curator of festivals and performing arts programs around the world and regularly presents and produces up to 80 public events a year in Croatia and internationally. He has extensive experience and expertise in arts management and fundraising. He edited over 40 books, taught arts management and curating classes as guest speaker at numerous Universities, Academies and other formal and informal education programs including Yale, Columbia and NYU.


The Queer New York International Festival is partially funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, City of Zagreb – Office for Culture and Goethe-Institut New York.

NYU Skirball’s programs are made possible in part with support from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; and by Howard Gilman Foundation; FUSED (French U.S. Exchange in Dance), a program of FACE Foundation in partnership with Villa Albertine; General Delegation of the Government of Flanders to the USA; Collins Building Services; Korean Cultural Center New York, Marta Heflin Foundation; Harkness Foundation for Dance; as well as our valued donors through memberships, commissioning, and Stage Pass Fund support.

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Wagner Schwartz – La Bête (Palais de Tokyo) _ Photo_ Benoit Cappronnier
Photo by Benoit Cappronnier
Photo by Humberto Araujo
Wagner Schwartz – La Bête (Palais de Tokyo) _ Photo_ Ayka Lux
Photo by Ayka Lux
Photo by Humberto Araujo
Photo by Humberto Araujo