Federico Protto

Federico Protto

Mapping Migratory Experiences and Intra-Colonial Memories

MAPA is an ongoing artistic research initiative delving into the creation of divergent cartographies of migratory experiences and intra-colonial memories. While cartography is traditionally seen as a tool to perfect maps, often employed for military purposes by governments from the global north, this project intends to redefine its purpose and explore alternative narratives. Cartography, in its broader sense, involves the study and practice of map-making, providing a means to represent geographical information. In the context of MAPA, cartography becomes a transformative medium, challenging conventional mappings and embracing a more inclusive approach that harbors the multifaceted nature of migratory journeys and colonial histories. This initiative opens cartography through dynamic methods like choreography, sound, poetry, text, singing, textiles, costumes, sculptures, and installations.
The foundation of this research lies in my personal migrational history between my birthplace Uruguay and life in Europe. The ‘maps’ created in this project are often unrecognizable as traditional maps, taking on shapes and expressions that continually transform and morph, reflecting the complexity of the topic and the diverse narratives (e.g., of collaborators) woven along the trajectory. Due to the projects character, it directly relates to natural elements like (movement through) air, bodies of water, territory, plants, and soil (and sometimes even the sun and its fire.)
The project unfolds through two distinctive formats: ‘mapa:fragmentos’ and ‘mapa:lecture-performances.’ A third aspect ‘mapa:reverie’ will be developed in 2024.


“Lo que pasa es que todos vivimos una contradicción muy fuerte, entre lo occidental y lo que nos da el paisaje, el ámbito local, que nos conecta con la otra cara.” – Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui*


#1 ‘Piriapolis’ – The Green Corridor, Saint-Gilles, Brussels, Belgium 04-2023
#2 ‘Candombe’ – Krabbe, floating platform, Berlin, Germany 09-2023
#3 ‘Ovni’ – kunstencentrum BUDA, Kortrijk, Belgium 12-2023
#4 ‘America’ – tba – 2024


#1 Centro Cultural de España, Montevideo, Uruguay 03-2023
#2 The Green Corridor, Saint-Gilles, Brussels, Belgium 11-2023 duet with Jimena Pérez Salerno
#3 ON_OFF_Space, DeSingel, Antwerp, Belgium 09-2024



‘mapa:fragmentos’ offers a unique format with movement-based scores, games, and texts, creating sensory experiences for both performers and audiences. 
One choreographic element activates the space in a mysterious proto-dance inspired by traditional dances like Tango and Pericón from the Rio de la Plata region. Another activation involves navigating the space by crawling, mapping out the world unconventionally, e.g. moving backward or guided by hips. A significant aspect introduces a proto-game with textile tissues, creating dynamic maps in the air and on the ground, fostering poetic intensity. These actions prompt reflection on relationships between protagonists and materials, exploring the worlds being created. Various personal texts popping-up accompany the performance. The shared materials are experienced with eyes open and closed, shifting between guiding senses – eyes, ears, skin, and scent. The costume, an over-proportionate traditional Uruguayan children’s school uniform, becomes a sensorial protagonist, enhancing the naive and alien quality. ‘mapa:fragmentos’ serves as a tool to de- and reconstruct map-making, national dances, and symbols like flags, exploring queering and distortion. The ‘soft’ score allows for deviations, (un)intentional encounters, and call-responses. Despite its slow pace, the work maintains a playful quality with a tender approach to choreography and audience inclusion. The low-tech flexibility allows the rearrangement of materials, enabling site-specific adaptations. The current iteration features Jimena Pérez Salerno (Argentina) in the duet, with dramaturgical support from Carolina Mendonça (Brazil).


‘mapa:lecture-performances’ create complex constellations of dense research materials collected during various journeys to Uruguay. These materials encompass experiences, diary entries, songs, sound recordings, video footage, objects, and local tales. The objective is to transmit knowledge inherent to the Global South in non-extractive ways, fostering cross-continental kinship.

This aspect of MAPA addresses the challenge of ‘bringing’ these materials to Europe without harming their origins. It explores methods of situating oneself within cultural and natural frameworks, contemplating soil, waters, language, memory, movement, and identity. The project seeks to break from the scopic colonial regime, emphasizing practices of (re)learning, (re)narrating, (de)contextualizing, and (co)thinking collectively.

The lecture-performances prompt participants to reflect on these intersections and challenge perceptions of epistemology. For instance, one performance narrated stories about the land surrounding my father’s home in Uruguay, using sculptures as placeholders for landmarks. Another, taking place on a floating platform in a lake, focused on my experiences with Montevideo’s Carnival tradition, not masking out its historical ties to the transatlantic slave trade. In a third performance, I addressed the alienated feeling of being a migrant, drawing on Uruguayan interviews about UFO sightings, live-broadcasted via Zoom from the top-floor of a tower.

In exploring diverse narratives through artistic research, ‘mapa:lecture-performances’ serves as an intra-personal bridge between continents, fostering a richer understanding of varied forms of knowledge and its transmission.

* “What happens is that we all live a very strong contradiction, between the western and what the landscape gives us, the local environment, which connects us with the other side.” – elsaltodiario[dot]com

lp1 performance images Sam/The Green Corridor
lp2 camera by Susanne Grau
fragmentos 1 performance images by CCE
fragmentos 2 camera by Anna Lugmeier