restricted access Acts of Witnessing: Site-Specific Performance and Transitional Justice in Postdictatorship Brazil

Over the past twenty-five years, artistic and cultural works engaging with Brazil’s authoritarian past and with the country’s transitional justice process have proliferated. Drawing on the work of sociologist Elizabeth Jelin and performance studies scholar Diana Taylor, the present article examines a prime example of this complex phenomenon, a theatrical work entitled Lembrar é resistir that was written and performed for the express purpose of marking the recovery of a notorious site of repression in the historic center of São Paulo. It argues that the power of the work came from the specific ways in which the embodied actions of the performers and spectators mediated the latter’s encounter with the materiality of the site, transforming the audience members not only into belated witnesses of the building’s grim history, but also into real-time witness-participants in the process of reclaiming the building.