issue 3 identities identidades artememoria


There is no more urgent moment for discussing anti-fascist resistance from an intersectional lens than 2019. The world has witnessed a rise in anti-democratic leaders that use minorities and immigrants as scapegoats; in Brazil, president Jair Bolsonaro targets people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, indigenous groups, and low-income communities with both his rhetoric and his actions. But discussing the question of identity is not just necessary because of how violence is unevenly felt across a population; resistance, too, ties closely to identity. The leaders of movements for democracy and human rights in Brazil today are from the same groups that suffer violence most intensely. Bourgeoning and internationally recognized protest movements like #elenão and #mariellevive have LGBTQ+ women of color as their protagonists. This moment also requires that we look to Brazil’s past for the roots of the country’s authoritarian practice and for strategies for resistance. The various ways in which the current administration is the legacy of Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985) are clear. However, the diverse present-day protest movements seem distant from the standard narratives of resistance to the dictatorship, the stories of straight, middle and working class white men who denounced 20th century dictatorial rule. But let us not confuse the homogeneity of a historical narrative with the true colors of resistance during Brazil’s military dictatorship: in addition to the class-oriented movements of the traditional left, 1964-1985 was also the incipient moment of Brazil’s Unified Black Movement, second-wave feminism, the movement for LGBT rights, and other social struggles. These groups also resisted dictatorship, at times together with the more traditional leftist groups, but always through the lens of struggles tied to identity. Identity politics do not preclude class-based or anti-fascist resistance. Rather, movements grow strongest at their intersections, and past fights have sown the seeds for the remarkable moment of political struggle that we witness today. It is in this context that the third and final edition of Artememoria aims to explore resistance to state violence, past and present, through the prism of identities. The issue is not meant to be comprehensive of all identities at play in Brazil. Instead, we aim to evoke a range of diverse and overlapping voices, struggles, and ideas that come together to form solidarity in the face of institutionalized violence. And, simultaneously, we hope to explore what identity itself means, conceptually, aesthetically, and politically. At the heart of the issue is our Feature section, which highlights an original contribution of interview, poetry, drama, and prose written by a collective of trans and travesti writers and their allies. Surrounding this cornerstone are more contributions than have ever been included in a single issue of Artememoria: we have three nonfiction essays that discuss the historical role of identity on the Brazilian left, survey the artistic production of black diaspora artists in the South of Bahia, and explore Jewish identity for one of Brazil’s most celebrated literary authors. Two critical texts analyze feminist poster art and peripheral identity in film. Our interview series carries conversations with three women who wrote about dictatorship in journalism and literature. In fiction, we enter the mind of a woman facing the violent mechanism of dictatorial bureaucracy, and through three original visual contributions, we consider identity as an abstract concept, in terms of feminism, and as culture to safeguard through film. Perhaps the best way to summarize the intent of Artememoria’s third installment, Identities, is through a powerful Portuguese phrase underlying Brazilian social movements: ninguém solta a mão de ninguém. No one let go of anyone else’s hand. In the current global moment, it is an idea of solidarity that much of the world could learn from.

Founding Editor: Lara Norgaard Contributing authors and artists (in order of appearance): James N. Green, José Lucas C.A. dos Santos, Eduardo Baccarin-Costa, Gabriela Maruno, Guilherme Godoy, Academia TransLiterária, Vilma Arêas, Jorge Bassani, Francisco Zorzete, Marcela Fauth, Alberto Alvares Contributing translators (in order of appearance): Julia de Souza, Robert A. Keiser, Lara Norgaard, Daniel Perisa, Adi Gold Cover illustration: Lizzie Buehler Cover design: Walker Carpenter Web Developer: Jesse MacDonald Special thanks to: Alec Cummings for animation; Marcelo Lotufo, editor at Edições Jabuticaba, for consulting on translation; Neusa Maria Pereira, journalist and educator, and Fernando Oliva, curator at the São Paulo Museum of Art, for ideas and contacts; Denise Salles for Portuguese transcriptions; Vera Vital Brasil, psychologist and member of the Rio de Janeiro Memory Truth Justice Collective, Paulo César Gomes, editor of História da Ditadura, and reporters at Agência Pública for continued mentorship and for upholding a standard of excellence and integrity in research.


Revisiting Brazil’s Recent Past to Think about Its FuturePortuguês

Through personal and academic reflection, US scholar and activist for LGTBQ+ rights discusses how silencing identity politics is damaging to leftist resistance.

By James N. Green // Translated by Julia de Souza

Dialogues of DiasporaPortuguês

Through a discussion of music, literature, and performance, this essay communicates what black diaspora artists in the South of Bahia have to say about current politics in Brazil.

By José Lucas C. A. dos Santos // Translated by Robert A. Keiser

Carlos Heitor Cony and Pessach: A travessiaPortuguês

A fusion of literary analysis and interview with celebrated author Carlos Heitor Cony brings us a reflection on Jewish identity and political resistance in Brazil.

By Eduardo Baccarin-Costa // Translated by Lara Norgaard


In Search of One’s Own ImagePortuguês

A critical essay analyzes the identity of under-development in Brazilian cinema from 1968 and 2010.

By Gabriela Maruno // Translated by Lara Norgaard

The Feminist Movement in Posters, 1975-1979Português

A unique survey of poster art from the Brazilian military dictatorship shows the role of women in anti-fascist resistance.

By Guilherme Godoy // Translated by Lara Norgaard


Trans R-Existence in BrazilPortuguês

A contribution of poetry, interview, prose, music, and more from a collective of artists from the T population (travesti transsexual, and transgender people) and cisgender people who act as allies.

By Academia TransLiterária // Translated by Lara Norgaard and Daniel Persia (with support from João Maria, Luci Universo, and Marta Neves of Academia TransLiterária)


Neusa Maria Pereira

A conversation with the journalist who played a key role in founding the Unified Black Movement, Brazil’s first national movement for racial justice.

Translated by Lara Norgaard

Ivone Benedetti

A writer who lived through Brazil’s military dictatorship discusses her process writing a novel that represents the period decades later.

Translated by Lara Norgaard

Adriana Lisboa

The author of Azul Corvo (Crow Blue) discusses writing female characters and dictatorship memory from a transnational perspective.

Translated by Lara Norgaard



"This is the land where the son cries and the mother does not hear."

By Vilma Arêas // Translated by Adi Gold



Conceptual animated GIFs explore what identity means in Brazil today.

By Jorge Bassani and Francisco Zorzete

Carmine SapPortuguês

Grassroots feminism in Brazil gains voice through experimental visual forms.

By Marcela Fauth // Translated by Lara Norgaard

Guardians of Memory

A short film on Guarani cultural memory, followed by an interview with director Alberto Alavres.

By Alberto Alvares // Translated by Lara Norgaard

Revisiting Brazil’s Recent Past to Think about Its Future

Revisitando o passado recente do Brasil para pensar em seu futuro

By James N. Green

De James N. Green


/ /

In an urgent and internationally relevant essay, Brown University professor and activist James N. Green approaches the issue of how identity politics fit into leftist resistance in Brazil, both during the military dictatorship and in the current moment. Drawing on research and personal experience, Green insightfully critiques a discourse that values class and anti-authoritarian resistance over any concern regarding identity. His essay a compelling argument for an intersectional approach to politics as well as an essential text for readers who wish to understand the dynamics of identity on the Brazilian left. And, most importantly, it is a document that inspires us to think not just of how we intend to resist, but, more importantly, of what kind of democracy we hope to construct in the future.

What is to be done? How should leftwing progressives respond to the current situation in Brazil? What are the ways to unite diverse political forces to challenge the Bolsonaro government and the conservative wave that has swept the country? As Harvard scholar Sidney Chalhoub recently reminded a conference of academics who study Brazil, historians are very bad about predicting the future but have some skills at predicting the past. Indeed, the process of democratization in the late 1970s and the different arguments and strategies employed by sectors of the Brazilian Left at that time might help us think about the best ways to confront the policies and the programs of the far-right, which currently has control over the Brazilian state.

In 1974, President Ernest Geisel promised a gradual return to democracy. In the following years that possibility unleashed political forces that had been stifled under the repressive measures of the dictatorship, especially after Institutional Act No. 5 of December 1968. A new feminist movement challenging patriarchy, black activists defying the hegemonic discourse on racial democracy, and a small LGBT movement all raised questions that did not fit easily into the Marxist framework, which was defended by most of the militant opposition to the military regime. Between 1978 and 1980, a debate took place, albeit small and weak, about the role of what scholars would later describe as New Social Movements. It occurred while the country lurched forward in starts and stops in the process of expanding democratization and thinking about post-dictatorial Brazil.

One of many places where this discussion unfolded was during a series of debates organized by the Centro Acadêmico of the Social Sciences program at the University of São Paulo. The effort was led by André Singer, the head of a new student group called Vento Novo. The week of debates included one night on feminism, another on the Black United Movement, another on the Homosexual Movement, as it was called at the time, and a fourth panel on emergent indigenous activism. During the debate about the Homosexual Movement, documented by the newspaper Lampião da Esquina, a polemic arose that was almost a caricature of divergent opinions circulating on the Left at the time.1 Some students in the audience, who were obviously militants of leftist political groups, argued that the main task at the time was to forge a united front against the dictatorship, the so-called “greater struggle” (a luta maior). According to this perspective, the feminist, LGBT, and Black movements, among others, “divided” the opposition. As the debate progressed others offered a more classic Marxist argument, positing the same general position that “minority” movements, presumably the lutas menores, or the lesser struggles, would fractured the united front headed by the working class.

Those who made these arguments were mainly middle-class, white, male, and (one would suppose) heterosexual students attached to leftist political groups. Although not explicitly articulated at the time, there were several assumptions embedded in their position. The first was that women, blacks, and homosexuals were minority groups compared to an abstract majority, which was white and heterosexual, when in fact this abstract majority was and is actually a demographic minority within Brazil. Secondly, there was an artificial construction of an imaginary working class, which one would have to conclude was racist, homophobic, and misogynist, and therefore unable to understand the program of black, feminist, or LGBT movements. Yet this imagined working class was the vanguard of the revolution and needed to be protected from ideas or movements that could threaten its beliefs and values, and, therefore, divide the united front against dictatorship.

Although most of the Left called for a broad democratic coalition to defeat the dictatorship, there was little elaboration at the time about the conceptions of democracy that this supposed majority wanted. The same can be said of the concept of human rights, a term that only took hold among militants in Brazil when opposition to the dictatorship abroad developed campaigns against the arrest, torture, and disappearance of militants by adopting the terminology of human rights as a way to obtain international support for their cause. In other words, democracy and human rights were ideas used instrumentally to build a united front against the dictatorship without any real discussion about what these concepts really meant.

The debate became even more complex as the working class came to center stage with the general strikes in Greater São Paulo between 1978 and 1980. Suddenly, Marx’s predictions seemed to be coming true in Brazil. The industrial working class was leading the struggle against dictatorship, and the strikes, along with the founding of the Workers’ Party in 1980, offered the confirmation that the Brazilian proletariat was a major, in not the principle, protagonist in the transformation of society.

Ironically, many traditional Marxists from the Brazilian Communist Party or those who had broken away from it, remained in the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), the majority force within the opposition, building a strategic alliance with “nationalist sectors of the bourgeoisie and progressive sectors of Brazilian society,” while other leftists insisted on leading the working class through the PT. The growth of the PT’s political influence in the 1980s and 1990s strengthened the schematic Marxist analysis that the working class was the driving political force in society. Even without arguing that the PT was the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat, ex-revolutionaries and Marxist militants within that party continued to emphasize the primacy of the working class. And for PT pragmatists, the poor and the working class was the majority of the population. Programs and policies aimed at them only made sense, and Lula’s election in 2002 only reinforced this electoral perspective.

The debate about democracy within the Left and within the PT remained remarkably sterile even after Lula’s election. Although the movements of feminists, LGBT people, and Black organizations received support from some sectors of the PT in power, including through the holding of national representative Conventions, and certain policies had a significant impact on the poor and working class, which affected millions of women, mostly Afro-Brazilian, the main demands of these movements were only reluctantly embraced. Machismo and patriarchy persisted. Freyrian ideology resisted serious reevaluation. The radical questioning of gender roles and traditional ideas about sexuality, while supported by some, was seen as a marginal or secondary issue that uncomfortably caused conflicts within the PT’s support base.

In addition, the rapid growth of the conservative evangelical Christian movement provided additional conflicts within the Left. While the PT majority refused to embrace women’s rights of access to abortion in order to avoid conflicts with sectors of the Catholic Church, the rise in the number of evangelical Christians, with an equally conservative moral and social agenda, put tremendous pressure on the left coalition that brought Lula and then Dilma to power. Large sectors of the Left failed to understand that the growing number of evangelical Christians was part of an international right-wing movement that used these conservative moral issues as a way of consolidating its support base and intervening in politics. Brazilian evangelical pastors copied experiences in the United States to promote the theology of prosperity and the establishment of new churches as profitable enterprises, and they adopted the same political strategy of building coalitions with more conservative, pro-capitalist political elites to gain access to state power.

Giving into evangelical Christians on LGBT issues in order to avoid conflict with coalition partners or potential electoral bases could have made tactical sense, but it failed to secure stable and reliable allies. One only needs to look at the way the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God moved from supporting the PT to embracing Bolsonaro to see how the evangelical Christians have been unstable partners in defending a leftwing agenda.

How, then, does the Left build a broad democratic front against Bolsonaro and his policies that manages to unite forces to defeat his program and elect a progressive president in four or eight years? Can we expect to win over most evangelical Christians with appeals to economic issues? What do we have to give up if anything, in building such a front?

The first three months of Bolsonaro’s presidency have been a diaster, and his popularity has dipped, but this does not mean that he will automatically lose power and leave office. The military and other forces may continue to support him instead of trying to remove him because he still has a popular base of support.

Let’s assume he can survive, as Trump has survived in the United States. Based on this pessimistic premise, the mobilizations of June 2013 might help us with our analysis. There remain different interpretations of these events, but my assessment is that they began as leftist critiques of the Workers’ Party’s unfulfilled promises, combined with opposition to center-right state governments. In the middle of the process, the mobilizations were hijacked by right-wing anti-PT militants, with the support of the conservative, hegemonic media, who saw these mobilizations as vehicles to weaken or overthrow the Rousseff government.

Most of the demands in the first weeks of the mobilizations were for improvements in health, education, and transportation, as well as criticism of the Congressional protection of corrupt politicians. Although mobilizations were eventually dominated by right-wing conservative forces, the initial protesters seemed to say: “You said that 40 million people entered the middle class with PT policies, but what kind of middle class is this when education, health, transportation, and other government services are not equal to those that the upper middle classes receive?” Basically, the demands of these demonstrators seemed to be: “Instead of building soccer stadiums, we want you to deliver on their promises to really improve the lives of people from the new middle classes that you say you have created.”

Unfortunately, Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, Temer’s assaults on the PT government’s achievements, the corruption scandals that focused mainly on the Workers’ Partuy, Lula’s imprisonment, and the election of Bolsonaro have placed the Left (understood in the collective plural) in a totally defensive position.

For a brief moment after Fernando Haddad became the official presidential candidate of the PT, it seemed that his rapid rise in popularity in the polls could ensure an electoral victory. However, the delay in initiating an effective PT’s election campaign, Bolsonaro’s stabbing and his unwillingness to debate, anti-PT sentiment that was stronger than people imagined, and the effectiveness of the Right in spreading fake news, all contributed to Bolsonaro’s victory.

There were incredibly positive moments in the campaign, especially the ways the #Elenão campaign took off. The single-day national mobilization, organized by women, was perhaps the biggest in Brazilian history, even though it also seemed to have provoked a reaction from the evangelical Right and the last-minute support by some churches for Bolsonaro. After the first round, many partisans of the Left panicked and began to do what the Right and fundamentalist Christians had been doing for years, that is, grassroots organizing. The effort to win undecided voters with a coffee and cake strategy was both a wonderful and a sadly pathetic effort. It was too little, too late. Still, considering the media campaigns against the PT over the last five years, the first-round results of almost 30% who voted for Haddad, and a final total of 45% of the valid ballots casts, it was an impressive electoral showing.

Although the PT achieved better than expected results in getting seats in Congress and the PSOL has grown in its national representation, the Right is in power and has been trying to implement its program. In addition, the military has an influence on the government that has not had since the early 80’s, which is very worrying.               Important sectors of the Left are now arguing that the opposition needs to prioritize economic and class issues over “identity politics.” The implication is that the LGBT, feminist, and Black movements have alienated part of the PT’s traditional base. Bolsonaro has been able to attract these sectors with this anti-LGBT language, notions of traditional family, and criticisms of “gender ideology.” According to this logic, fierce opposition to welfare reforms and other concrete attacks on the poor and the working class, while at the same time sidelining issues related to gender, sexuality and racism, will somehow win back those who voted for the PT in the past, but who left the party because of “moral” issues identified with the PT.

How do we win over those who have voted for the Left, but in the last election supported the ultraright candidate? Should we not prioritize or even abandon issues such as LGBT rights that could alienate voters who might potentially return to the Left? Should progressive forces give up the idea that Brazil is a secular state and that religion should not play a role in the formulation of policies? Do we ignore the mass murder of Black youth to develop a policy on crime that does not confront institutional racism? Should we stop denouncing machismo and misogyny to avoid alienating people who have traditional notions about women, family, and society? The mobilizations of 2013, in part, reflected disappointment with the unfulfilled promises of the PT in power. Abandoning an intransigent defense of the rights of women, Blacks, and LGBT people will merely reignite a frustration among many forces defending a democratic and just social order. Once again, they will become disillusioned with the unfulfilled promises of the Left.

The progressive aspects of the mobilizations that began in 2013 coupled with the 2016 high school occupations, the national opposition to the coup and Temer, and the 45% Haddad received in the second round are all indications that the social opposition to the government is strong, even if it still seems relatively subdued. Nonetheless, it is powered by young people, who are much more open about issues of gender, sexuality, and racism than previous generations.

In this process, the ideas, demands, and contributions of feminists, black activists, the LGBT movement, and youth cannot be ignored. They must be an integral part of this movement. We must also emphasize the important idea of ​​intersectionality, recalling the multiple identities and forms of discrimination and oppression that individuals might experience and which requires a multifaceted approach to addressing them. Without defending this broad-based program, it is unlikely that the Left will come to power again. And if it does, such an approach is the only way to ensure that once the Left is in power, it can guarantee a radical and lasting democracy.

james n green brown university
James N. Green, Professor of Modern Latin American History and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University. Image source: The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.
  1. Eduardo Dantas, “Negros, mulherers, homossexualis e índios nos debates da USP” Lampião da Esquina 2, no. 10 (March 1979): 9-10.

Que fazer? Como os progressistas de esquerda devem responder à situação atual do Brasil? Por que caminhos será possível unir forças políticas distintas para desafiar o governo Bolsonaro e a onda conservadora que varreu o país? Como o professor de Harvard Sidney Chalhoub lembrou recentemente numa conferência de acadêmicos que estudam o Brasil, os historiadores não são bem-sucedidos em suas previsões do futuro, mas têm algumas ferramentas para prever o passado. De fato, o processo de redemocratização deflagrado no fim doa anos 1970 e os diferentes argumentos e estratégias empregados por setores da esquerda brasileira naquele período podem nos ajudar a refletir sobre as melhores formas de combater as políticas e os programas da extrema-direita que, atualmente, controla o Estado brasileiro.

Em 1974, o então presidente Ernesto Geisel prometeu um retorno gradual à democracia. Nos anos seguintes, essa possibilidade desencadeou forças políticas que haviam sido abafadas pelas medidas de repressão da ditadura, especialmente depois do Ato Institucional No 5, implantado em dezembro de 1968. Um novo movimento feminista que desafiava o patriarcado, ativistas negros confrontando o discurso hegemônico de democracia racial e um pequeno movimento LGBT levantaram questões que não se enquadravam facilmente no discurso marxista defendido pela maior parte da militância de oposição ao regime militar. Entre 1978 e 1980, instalou-se um debate que, embora restrito e fraco, refletia sobre o papel daquilo que os acadêmicos mais tarde descreveriam como os Novos Movimentos Sociais. Isso se deu enquanto o país avançava de forma intermitente no processo de expandir a democratização e refletir sobre o Brasil pós-ditatorial.

Um dos muitos espaços em que a discussão se desdobrou foi uma série de debates organizados pelo Centro Acadêmico da faculdade de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de São Paulo. A iniciativa foi tomada por André Singer, líder de um novo grupo de estudantes chamado Vento Novo. A semana de debates incluiu uma noite em torno do feminismo, outra dedicada ao Movimento Negro Unificado, uma terceira noite sobre o Movimento Homossexual, como era então chamado, e um quarto seminário voltado ao movimento indígena emergente.

Durante o debate a respeito do Movimento Homossexual, documentado pelo jornal Lampião da Esquina, surgiu uma polêmica que representava quase uma caricatura das opiniões divergentes que, na época, circulavam na esquerda.1

Alguns alunos da plateia, claramente militantes de grupos políticos de esquerda, argumentaram que a principal tarefa daquele momento era criar um frente unificada contra a ditadura, a assim chamada “luta maior”. Diante de tal perspectiva, as feministas, os LGBT e os movimentos negros, entre outros, “dividiram” ao oposição. À medida que o debate evoluía, outros apresentaram argumentos marxistas mais clássicos, postulando a mesma posição genérica segundo a qual os movimentos das “minorias”, que presumivelmente constituíam “lutas menores”, provocariam uma cisão na frente unificada liderada pela classe operária.

Aqueles que defenderam tais argumentos eram, em sua maioria, estudantes de classe média, brancos, homens e (supõe-se) heterossexuais ligados a grupos políticos de esquerda. Embora não tenham sido articulados explicitamente na época, havia diversos pressupostos embutidos em sua posição. O primeiro era o de que as mulheres, os negros e os homossexuais constituíam grupos minoritários em contraste a uma maioria abstrata que era branca e heterossexual, quando na verdade essa maioria abstrata representava e representa uma minoria demográfica no Brasil. Em segundo lugar, havia a construção artificial de uma classe trabalhadora imaginária, a qual, teríamos que concluir, era racista, homofóbica e misógina, e portanto incapaz de compreender as pautas dos movimentos negros, feministas ou LGBT. Ainda assim, essa classe trabalhadora imaginada era a vanguarda da revolução e devia ser protegida das ideias de movimentos que pudessem ameaçar suas crenças e valores, rompendo a frente unificada contra a ditadura.

Embora a maior parte da esquerda reivindicasse uma coalisão ampla e democrática para derrotar a ditadura, havia, na época, pouca elaboração a respeito das concepções da democracia que essa suposta maioria desejava. O mesmo pode ser afirmado sobre o conceito de direitos humanos, um termo que só foi incorporado pelos militantes do Brasil quando a oposição à ditadura travada fora do país desenvolveu campanhas contra a prisão, a tortura e o desaparecimento de militantes, adotando a terminologia dos direitos humanos como um meio de obter suporte internacional para sua causa. Em outras palavras, democracia e direitos humanos eram ideias usadas instrumentalmente para construir uma frente unificada contra a ditadura, sem qualquer discussão real sobre o que tais conceitos significavam de fato.

O debate se tornou ainda mais complexo com as greves gerais na Grande São Paulo entre 1978 e 1980, quando a classe trabalhadora assumiu um papel central. De repente, as previsões de Marx pareciam estar se tornando realidade no Brasil. A classe operária industrial liderava a luta contra a ditadura, e as greves, ao lado da fundação do Partido dos Trabalhadores em 1980, confirmavam que o proletariado brasileiro era o maior, se não o principal, protagonista da transformação da sociedade.

Ironicamente, muitos marxistas tradicionais do Partido Comunista Brasileiro, ou aqueles que haviam rompido com ele, se filiaram ao Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, o PMDB, que representava a maior força da oposição, construindo uma aliança com “alas nacionalistas de setores burgueses e progressistas da sociedade brasileira” — enquanto outros insistiram em liderar a classe trabalhadora junto ao PT. Nos anos 1980 e 1990, o crescimento da influência política do PT fortaleceu a análise esquemática marxista segundo a qual a classe trabalhadora era a força motriz da sociedade. Mesmo sem questionar se o PT fosse a vanguarda revolucionária do proletariado, ex-revolucionários e militantes marxistas do partido continuaram a enfatizar a supremacia da classe trabalhadora. E, para os pragmatistas do PT, os pobres e a classe trabalhadora eram a maioria da população. Os únicos programas e políticas que faziam sentido eram aqueles dirigidos a eles, e a eleição de Lula em 2002 apenas reforçou essa perspectiva eleitoral.

O debate em torno da democracia travado pela esquerda e pelo PT se manteve notavelmente estéril, mesmo depois da eleição de Lula. Embora os movimentos das feministas, de pessoas LGBT e de organizações negras tenham recebido suporte de alguns setores do PT que estavam no poder — inclusive através de congressos de representatividade nacional e de certas políticas que tiveram impacto significativo sobre os pobres e a classe trabalhadora e afetaram milhões de mulheres, sobretudo afro-brasileiras — as demandas principais desses movimentos eram acolhidas com relutância. O machismo e o patriarcado persistiram. A ideologia freyriana resistiu a uma reavaliação séria. Embora tenha sido apoiado por alguns, o questionamento radical dos papeis de gênero e das ideias tradicionais acerca da sexualidade foi considerado um tema marginal ou secundário que causou desconfortos e conflitos na base de apoio do PT.

Ademais, o rápido avanço do movimento conservador evangélico provocou novos conflitos em meio à esquerda. Enquanto a maioria do PT se recusava a acolher o direito das mulheres de acesso ao aborto para evitar confrontos com setores da igreja católica, o crescimento da população evangélica, com sua agenda igualmente conservadora do ponto de vista moral e social, impôs uma enorme pressão sobre a coalizão de esquerda que levou Lula e, posteriormente, Dilma ao poder. Amplos setores da esquerda não foram capazes de compreender que o crescimento do número de evangélicos estava ligado a um movimento internacional da direita, que se valia dessa pauta conservadora como um meio de consolidação de sua base de apoio e de seu poder de intervenção na política. Os pastores evangélicos brasileiros imitaram experiências norte-americanas para promover a teologia da prosperidade e estabelecer novas igrejas como empresas lucrativas, adotando a mesmo estratégia política de construir coalizões com elites políticas mais conservadoras e pró-capitalistas para ganhar acesso ao poder estatal.

Ceder aos evangélicos com relação a questões LGBT com o objetivo de evitar conflitos com partidos da coalizão ou potenciais bases eleitorais poderia ter um sentido tático, mas não foi uma estratégia capaz de garantir aliados estáveis e confiáveis. A maneira como a Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus deixou de apoiar o PT para aderir a Bolsonaro demonstra como os evangélicos têm sido parceiros instáveis na defesa da agenda da esquerda.

Como, então, a esquerda vai construir uma ampla frente democrática contra Bolsonaro e suas políticas para derrotar seu projeto e eleger um presidente progressista dentro dos próximos quatro ou oito anos? Podemos ter a expectativa de conquistar a maioria dos evangélicos com apelos a questões econômicas? Do que teremos que abrir mão para construir essa frente?

Os três primeiros meses da presidência de Bolsonaro foram um desastre e sua popularidade despencou, mas isso não significa que ele vá perder automaticamente o poder e deixar o cargo. Em vez de destituí-lo, os militares e outras forças podem continuar a apoiá-lo, uma vez que ele ainda possui uma base de apoio popular.

Vamos supor que ele sobreviva, assim como Trump sobreviveu nos Estados Unidos. Segundo essa premissa pessimista, as mobilizações de Junho de 2013 podem contribuir com nossa análise. Há muitas interpretações desses eventos, mas eu avalio que eles se iniciaram como críticas de esquerda às promessas não cumpridas do Partido dos Trabalhadores e como oposição a governos estaduais de centro-direita. No meio do processo, as mobilizações foram sequestradas pelos militantes da direita anti-PT, com o apoio da mídia conservadora e hegemônica, que enxergou essas manifestações como um veículo para enfraquecer ou derrubar o governo Rousseff.

Na primeiras semanas da mobilização, a maioria das demandas era por melhorias na saúde, educação e transporte, aliadas a uma crítica da proteção do Congresso a políticos corruptos. Embora as mobilizações tenham sido eventualmente dominadas pelas forças conservadoras da direita, os primeiros manifestantes pareciam dizer: “Vocês dizem que, com as políticas do PT, 40 milhões de pessoas ascenderam à classe média, mas que tipo de classe média é essa se a educação, a saúde, transporte e outros serviços estatais não são iguais àqueles desfrutados pelas classes mais altas?” Basicamente, as demandas desses protestantes pareciam ser: “Em vez de construir estádios de futebol, queremos que cumpram as promessas de melhorar efetivamente a vida das pessoas das novas classes médias que vocês dizem ter criado.”

Infelizmente, o Impeachment de Dilma Rousseff, os ataques de Temer às conquistas do PT, os escândalos de corrupção que visaram sobretudo o Partido dos Trabalhadores, a prisão de Lula e a eleição de Bolsonaro colocaram a esquerda (entendida aqui como um coletivo plural) numa posição totalmente defensiva.

Por um breve momento, depois que Fernando Haddad se tornou o candidato à presidência oficial do PT, teve-se a impressão de que sua rápida escalada de popularidade nas pesquisas poderia garantir a vitória eleitoral. No entanto, o atraso para dar início a uma campanha eleitoral efetiva do PT; a facada que atingiu Bolsonaro e sua indisposição ao debate; um sentimento anti-PT que era maior do que se podia imaginar e a efetividade da direita em disseminar fake news compuseram um conjunto de fatores que contribuíram para a vitória de Bolsonaro.

Houve momentos incrivelmente positivos na campanha, sobretudo no que diz respeito à decolagem da campanha #Elenão. Talvez a mobilização do dia 29 de setembro, organizado por mulheres, tenha sido a maior manifestação da história do Brasil, embora isso pareça ter provocado uma reação da direita evangélica e feito com que algumas igrejas manifestassem um apoio de última hora a Bolsonaro. Depois do primeiro turno, muitos partidários da esquerda entraram em pânico e começaram a fazer aquilo que a direita e os cristãos fundamentalistas vinham fazendo há anos, isto é, organização de base. O esforço por conquistar eleitores indecisos com a estratégia do cafezinho com bolo foi uma estratégia tão maravilhosa quanto tristemente patética. Já era tarde demais. Ainda assim, tendo em conta as campanhas da mídia contra o PT nos últimos cinco anos, os resultados do primeiro turno de quase 30% de votos para Haddad e, no segundo turno, de 45% de votos válidos para o petista foram um impressionante desempenho eleitoral.

Embora o PT tenha alcançado resultados melhores que o esperado na conquista de cadeiras no Congresso e o PSOL tenha crescido em sua representação nacional, a direita está no poder e tem tentado implementar seu programa. Além disso, o exército tem uma influência sobre o governo inédita desde os anos 1980, o que é muito preocupante.

Atualmente, setores importantes da esquerda estão defendendo que a oposição deve priorizar questões econômicas e de classe em detrimento das “políticas identitárias”. Como consequência, os movimentos LGBT, feministas e negros alienaram parte da base tradicional do PT. Bolsonaro tem sido capaz de atrair tais setores com sua linguagem anti-LGBT, noções tradicionais de família e críticas à “ideologia de gênero”. De acordo com essa lógica, a oposição ferrenha a reformas de bem estar social e outros ataques contra os pobres e a classe trabalhadora — bem como a marginalização de temas relacionados a gênero, sexualidade e racismo — vai de alguma forma reconquistar aqueles que votaram no PT no passado, mas abandonaram o partido por conta de questões “morais” relacionadas a ele.

Como podemos convencer aqueles que já votaram na esquerda, mas na última eleição apoiaram o candidato da extrema-direita? Devemos deixar de priorizar ou até mesmo abandonar pautas como os direitos LGBT, que podem afastar eleitores que potencialmente voltariam para a esquerda? As forças progressistas devem desistir da ideia de que o Brasil é um estado laico e de que a religião não pode influenciar a criação de políticas? Vamos ignorar os assassinatos em massa da juventude negra para desenvolver uma política de combate ao crime que não confronta o racismo institucional? Devemos parar de denunciar o machismo e a misoginia para evitar o distanciamento de pessoas que têm concepções conservadoras acerca das mulheres, da família e da sociedade? As manifestações de 2013, em parte, refletiram a decepção diante das promessas não cumpridas pelos governos do PT. Deixar de lado uma defesa intransigente dos direitos das mulheres, dos negros e pessoas LGBT vai apenas reacender uma frustração entre as muitas forças que defendem uma ordem social justa e democrática. Mais uma vez, haverá desilusão com as promessas não cumpridas da esquerda.

Os aspectos progressistas das mobilizações que tiveram início em 2013, ao lado das ocupações escolares dos secundaristas em 2016, da oposição nacional ao golpe e a Temer e dos 45% de votos que Haddad recebeu no segundo turno são indicadores de que a oposição social ao governo é forte, ainda que pareça relativamente subjugada. Contudo, é alimentada pelos jovens, que são muito mais abertos às questões de gênero, sexualidade e racismo que as gerações anteriores.

Nesse processo, as ideias, reivindicações e contribuições de feministas, ativistas negros, do movimento LGBT e da juventude não podem ser ignoradas. Devem constituir uma parte essencial desse movimento. Também precisamos enfatizar a importante ideia da interseccionalidade, evocando as múltiplas identidades e formas de discriminação e opressão que os indivíduos podem vivenciar, e que exigem uma abordagem multifacetada. Sem defender esse programa amplo, é improvável que a esquerda chegue ao poder novamente. E, se chegar, tal abordagem é a única forma de assegurar que, uma vez no poder, a esquerda possa garantir uma democracia radical e duradoura.

james n green brown university
James N. Green, ativista e professor titular da Brown University. Fonte da imagem: O Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.
  1. Eduardo Dantas, “Negros, mulheres, homossexuais e índios nos debates da USP”, em Lampião da Esquina 2, n. 10 (Março de 1979), pp. 9-10.

Dialogues of Diaspora

Diálogos da Diáspora

What do black diaspora artists in the South of Bahia have to say?

Que dizem os artistas da diáspora negra sul-baiana?

By José Lucas C. A. dos Santos

De José Lucas C. A. dos Santos


/ /

All too often, the Brazilian art that gains visibility both in Brazil and abroad is that of white artists from Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. José Lucas C. A. dos Santos challenges that hegemony by surveying the contemporary artistic production of black diaspora authors, poets, and musicians in the South of Bahia. His essay, which incorporates nonfiction, criticism, and manifesto, asks what this array of art says about Brazil’s current political moment as well as the continuities in state violence that the black diaspora has suffered in Brazil. With its intersectional content that discusses race and gender through a range of artistic genres, this piece is required reading for anyone who wishes to diversify their knowledge of contemporary Brazilian art that resists state violence.

Politicians who have not yet fallen from their respective branches
are wrapped up with those who keep their finger on the trigger.

–Augusto Boal

Ilhéus Cine Pivete Batalha do Conhecimento
Knowledge Battle in the Urbis Plaza in Ilhéus, Bahia. Organized by the Cine Pivete collective. Photo: Analu Nogueira. Used with permission.

To understand how the Grapiúna1 territory has been shaped, we must take a critical look at the intense process of resistance to the cultural, political, and economic imposition of the colonizer: white-European-heterosexual man. With this backdrop, we should consider the black diaspora in Brazil, which comprises a large contingent of ethnic groups uprooted from different parts of the African continent, especially those ethnic groups whose languages belong to the Bantu linguistic family. The artistic production developed by black diaspora artists in the South of Bahia reflects this consideration of the amalgam of cultures that form Brazil. But what does the South of Bahia have to say about this dramatic scenario?

Within the conservative and fascist framework that has quickly taken shape in Brazil, the urgent discussion of artistic production in the South of Bahia allows for a lateral rendering of power structures. The political self manifest in these artistic productions shatters the masks of silence2 that have been imposed throughout the Western tradition. In this sense, the intense process of resistance to the colonizer’s cultural, political, and economic imposition makes the black diaspora artistic discourse in the South of Bahia corrosive to power structures. Brazil needs the South of Bahia!

No wonder the result of the last presidential election puts the Northeast, and with it the South of Bahia, in the sights of those who defend legalizing firearms; they’re the same as those who defend the notion of “a good criminal is a dead criminal,” and the obtuse and ignorant discussion about “gender ideology” in schools, as well as the fake news about the “Gay Kit” associated with the figure of former federal deputy Jean Wyllys, who was forced into exile because of threats and political persecution. The murder of his ally, the councilwoman and defender of human rights Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes, has gone more than 12 months without leads. It is in the context of this political landscape that the black diaspora in the South of Bahia brings forth identities that, through art, rethink the structures of Brazil, which has the third largest prison population in the world, with more than 726,000 prisoners, high rates of femicide and violent discrimination against the LGBTQ population. This discrimination claims the lives of gay and transgender people, with a life expectancy of 35 years for this latter category, well below the national average of 75.5 years. What is taking shape before us is a country that kills the most transgender people and at the same time consumes the most pornography involving transgender people! The Latin American sun that shines down on this tropical country also sets the stage for a regressive and destructive moment in the face of the idiotic rhetoric of the Brazilian elite.

On only the second day of his term, the recently elected president eliminated the Ministry of Culture. Attacks on diversity in cultural production, specifically targeting the “communist” nature of the Rouanet Law, Brazil’s main tool for promoting culture, enables the hate speech that leads to acts of violence against minorities. Still during the elections, Dayane Pimentel, the president of Jair Bolsonaro’s political party (PSL-RJ) in Bahia, announced the censorship of the Federal Government of Bahia during one of her unfortunate statements: “Bolsonaro will take great pains to inspect the cultural and intellectual agenda. The use of human rights to push gender ideology and indoctrination in schools will be monitored,” the teacher said. “This will be an area subject to regulation, on these terms, for the benefit of society.” The speech by the president of the PSL-BA Social Liberal Party reminds us of the tragedy that occurred when the Fifth Institutional Act was signed on December 13, 1968. In addition to foretelling the permanence of military rule, the decree put forward censorship as an efficient mechanism of violence and repression. The current foreshadowing of control over Bahia’s cultural agenda demonstrates that censorship is once again being institutionalized in Brazil 50 years later.

Ladies and gentlemen, big brother has his eyes on me!3

Those who feel nostalgic for the Civil-Military Dictatorship (1964-1984) legitimize their fascist discourse through the relativism touted by mainstream media as well as the public support for violence. In the words of South Bahian rapper Cijay, we’re all in a crisis of intellect! In this context of proclaimed censorship, the class at the Postgraduate Program in Teaching and Ethnic-Racial Relations at the Jorge Amado campus of the Federal University of Bahia, developed the First Forum on Femicide and the Racial Question in the South of Bahia as part of research within the discipline Gender, Sexuality, Négritude, and Poverty. Women representatives from feminist collectives, candomblé temples, and indigenous as well as Romani communities attended the event. In the face of the violence imposed on these bodies, this forum opened up space for the demands of civil society. The prosecutor for the state of Bahia Lívia Vaz, public prosecutor for the city of Itabuna Cleide Ramos, and military police officer Renata Rodrigues Mendes Mattos Santos from the Ronda Maria da Penha barracks made up the Voice of the State round table and responded to demands for the end of violence against women.

The discussion took place after the Cia Trapizonga de Teatro performance art piece Between My Sex And My Syntax: My Cry, composed by Tereza Sá, Telma Sá, Luan Bencos, and special guest Vinicíus Souza. They invoke Afroscenic theatricality, and through the syntax of their bodies, they manifest the cacophonous cry of diasporic, Latin American women. The performance, which relies on the performatization of contemporary poems, includes songs by Luedji Luna as well as the theater collective’s original compositions; it sheds light on countless cases of domestic and urban violence against black bodies. The scene features four vocal bodies transposed to the feminine, in which the condition of Brazilian black women mirrors the legacy of slavery, showing how they disproportionately suffer from domestic violence as well as from symbolic, psychological, physical, and intergenerational violence. The intersections of gender, race, and class provided the framework for identifying the black woman’s body as the main target of this violence, reflecting institutionalized racism in Brazil.

Performance de Tereza Sá Batalha do Conhecimento
Performance by Tereza Sá and Telma Sá at the Knowledge Battle organized by the Cine Pivete collective. Photo: Analu Nogueira. Used with permission.

This reality calls to mind the slave-based society of the past and perversely imposes itself on black women. According to data from the 2015 Violence Map, cases of femicide in Brazil increased by 54.2% between 2003 and 2013, while femicide of white women fell by 9.8% during the same period. The cry that echoed silently through the auditorium expressed the extreme urgency of the forum, facilitating a reflection on the need to combat femicide and all other machista and misogynist forms of oppression. There were 980 cases of violence against women registered in Salvador this past January alone!

In 2016, a year after the promulgation of the Domestic Law signed by Dilma Roussef, the great feudalist sectors conducted a legislative-parliamentary-media coup, which deposed the president through a process of impeachment. The coup also had the support of the Brazilian middle class who routinely discussed the “difficulties” and “inflexibility” of paying a maid. In Brazil, domestic workers are primarily black women with low levels of education. Often falsely promised the opportunity to study and advance economically by white families, they end up enslaved, providing domestic service in exchange for room and board. One example is the case of girls from the Kalunga Quilombola being exploited sexually and for domestic work in Cavalcante, Goiás. They are the young—or not so young—chambermaids and wet nurses who represent the exploitation and conditioning of black women as domestic servants and nannies. It is in this context that the president-elect shouts atrocities about the history of the populations uprooted from Africa: “The lightest Afro-descendants there weigh seven arrobas; they do nothing! They are not even good for procreation,”4 or he claims that Africans embraced slavery. The conservative racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and misogynist insurgency represents the turn towards Tupiniquim fascism, exacerbated by a complete ignorance of Brazil’s history. With this ignorance comes the conservation of structures rooted in colonialism. As if the dissolution of important ministries that fight oppression were not enough, Damares Alves was appointed to misrule the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights. Not only did indigenists and the Public Prosecutor’s Office accuse the NGO founded by Alves for trafficking indigenous children, but Alves also advocates for biblical values and claims to hold the false title of Master, which she asserts was bestowed by God… A disaster! The following reflection from a conversation with Joalisson Oliveira about this administration’s idiocy5 sums up the motivation behind the choice of such a minister:

The fact that she [Alves] is laughable is a political ruse that his excellency the president has concocted. Since he cannot simply wipe away the ministry of human rights without being questioned internationally, he does this: he subjugates the ministry to a freak show, a fearful effort to ridicule, discredit, and transform it into a laughing matter.6

At the beginning of the deep-seated political crisis initiated by conservative and reactionary sectors of the Brazilian right after losing the election to Dilma Rousseff and the Workers’ Party (PT) in 2014 (it is worth remembering the US imperialist actions in a certain oil-rich Latin American country, since the reelection of its current president in 2017), the book Profundanças (Depths) was published. The volume is a poetic and photographic anthology, organized by Grapiúna professor Daniela Galdino, with the participation of women from every corner of the country. The work discusses, through poetry, prose, and photography, the history of the bodies of these women and the resignifications that they assume as political identity. The texts speak from the point of view of interdicted and silenced sexuality, exploring the potentialities of the female body, reflecting on its ancestralities, subjectivities, and place in society. The South-Bahian’s Profundanças is a literary milestone. It places alterities in a liberating light, stressing that the writings of female authors are to be read and discussed! Profundanças 2 was launched on July 6, 2017 in celebration of Frida Kahlo’s birthday and in response to the 2016 legislative-parliamentary-media coup, which deposed the country’s first female president:

More than ever before, we must cry out. This coup has slashed our country’s throat. A state of exception, orchestrated by legislative-parliamentary powers in unison with hateful segments of society; it has violated our sensibilities and usurped our rights. We—women—are always targeted, especially if we’re black, indigenous, trans, lesbian, or poor. Either we succumb to their gaze, or invent ways of re-existing.

(Daniela Galdino)

profundanças diáspora bahia ilhéus
Cover of Profundanças 2. Illustrated by: Bruna Risério. Designed by: Ícaro Gibran. Used with permission.

The struggle for the right to exist is reflected in the mighty verses of JeisiEkê de Lundu, who is a black, non-binary person from Salvador. Lundu’s poetics draw on Djamila Ribeiro’s theory of “the standpoint of speech”7 in order to grasp the condition of the trans body, the voice, and the color, shape, and setting of words:

Born without territory,
raised on the border,
neither Bahia nor Minas.
Neither boy nor girl,
always on the outside, always on the margin.

Neither overalls nor dress.
Fluid body, desire pulsing,
loose gear, delirium’s creation, life Spectacle, this is not theater,
this is not a performance,
my gender is fluid,
my body is wave, chameleon unprecedented.

Reflection without mirror.
Meaningless anthropophagy.
My motive here is not to affirm anything,
but to confront your consecrated certainties.
My desire is not to break or to join, but to exist.
This is a cry of warning, not help.

(Excerpt from “While My Feet Swing” by JeisiEkê de Lundu)

Confronting these consecrated certainties entails the method of counterculture as a point of departure, deconstructing the humanist and universalist vision that placed the meanings of the whole over those of the individual, and as a result, deconstructing the essentialist discourse that maps and crystallizes identities. This is the cry of warning, for those whose hate speech is the driving force in preserving a binary logic of the sexes and gender, currently justified by such “gender ideology.”

Discourse for deserts, for bones and rocks,
For deaf men and apathetic women.
We are a Paraguaçu of fossils, of marine memories.
In addition to the devastation on our banks,
No tilling can smooth the pains of the present.
I can’t make out any new galaxies.
Only suicidal convicts in the gallows.
Only judges and informers,
Only convenient secrecies.
There is a spill of sorrows in our eyes,
Mute cataracts await the vertigo of the Spirit of Time.
And our walls grow moldy with disillusion.
As a woman, I dilate!

(Excerpt from “Pamphlets for Fireflies and Magnolias” by Rita Santana)

This excerpt from “Pamphlets for Fireflies and Magnolias” by Rita Santana embodies the Paraguaçú River in an analogy to the drifting body, devastated margins, memories of a past whose wound is open in the present—not a glint of utopian futures. The connection between body and water, which serves as a healing agent in some cases and a repository of memories in others, reminds me of Conceição Evaristo’s short story A gente combinamos de não morrer (We Agreed Not to Die), and the character Dorvi’s relation to the sea: “I’m going to kill, I’m going to die. It’s out there in the sea that I’ll be dying, Love-sea, loving-sea, dying-sea. It is in the depths of the deep, where I will always keep memories …” And, immediately, Djamila Ribeiro’s ideas about black feminism grow dark:

In the end, we seek to broaden the concept of humanity. By not being afraid of black feminism, privileged people will realize that our struggle is essential and urgent, because as long as we—black women—continue to be the target of constant attacks, humanity is in danger.

(Djamila Ribeiro)

The intersectional reflection on this social problematic opens up a horizon of responsibility for the violence inflicted on these bodies:

I get tired of men
And their stupidity of stone
From their grotto of obscurity,
Their state of inertia,
Their premature old age,
Their perpetual adolescence.
Their cowardice in the face of demons.
Their surrender, their lack of love.
I’m a woman from Latin America! I am a diasporic, black voice! I come from an Africa that seeks me.
And what I do is cross oceans, Decipher it in me, in my territory. My pain is my oar.
My pain is my compass. My pain is also my ship.

(Excerpt from “Pamphlets for Fireflies and Magnolias” by Rita Santana)

This move to displace the contemporary narrator began to gain strength in Brazil in the second half of the twentieth century. In this period, imported European aesthetic ideas sowed the seeds for a counter-cultural movement. Narratives like those composed by Plínio Marcos, Caio F de Abreu, Maria Carolina de Jesus, Glauber Rocha, and Cinema Novo set the stage for a new kind of narrator. This means speaking about daily anguish, the scabbed-over wounds on bodies. This enunciative locus becomes performative through the experiences/perspectives of the characters marginalized by the state and society: black women, homosexuals, lesbians, communists, prostitutes etc, who shatter the masks of silence through the arts, as Profundanças attempts today. This reflection concerns specific groups throughout the Western tradition that have occupied the positions of power, reserving spaces of subalternity for those who do not assimilate to the logic imposed or even those who refuse to conform to standards. This standardization comprises the underpinnings of Western tradition, which is woven together by ontology/epistemology/ethics/aesthetics and becomes explicit in the dichotomous relations of power, as represented in pairs: beautiful/ugly, being/not being, reason/non-reason, fair/unjust, center/periphery, black/white, man/woman, etc.

Do not fear the tyranny of authoritarian rule

Mã reputação ilhéus diáspora
Poet and rapper Má Reputação with her son João on her hip at the Knowledge Battle, organized by the Pivete Cine collective, Photo: Analu Nogueira. Used with permission.

In the Bahian rap scene, the women of the collective Xota 0738 produce and combine songs, fanzines,9 as well as poetry with black women protagonists, spreading South Bahian hip hop culture. The collective visits schools and participates in poetry battles; with the performance of their bodies, they confront the contradictions of the Brazilian State for its denial of women’s rights, especially the rights of black women, mothers, and unmarried women, who represent a large part of the population in this condition. Prominent themes in the collective’s projects and rap lyrics include the legalization of abortion and the struggle against the patriarchy. Karen Oliveira, also known as Má Reputação (Bad Reputation), is one member of the collective. She politically affirms the amalgam of her identities through social networks and public spaces, using her art to fight against machismo, racism, discrimination against the LGBTQ population, and all kinds of oppression. The Instagram profile @projeto_tmj unites black women composers. Karen Oliveira, also known as Má Reputação (Bad Reputation), is one member of the collective. She politically affirms the amalgam of her identities through social networks and public spaces, using her art to fight against machismo, racism, discrimination against the LGBTQ population, and all kinds of oppression. The Instagram profile @projeto_tmj unites black women composers. This activist for black women, mothers, bisexual people, journalists, stoners, fanzine producers, and followers of Macumba believes in art as a device of female liberation and as a means to denounce Brazilian structural racism. In the virtual environment, she publishes her texts in verse and prose on the page that bears her name, Má Reputação:

In the alley the conversation echoes
Each one in her home
from window to window,
unburden the weariness,
the neglect of the state,
the low wage,
the three-fold commute,
One welcomes the other,
she listens
she gives advice,
we mock the rules,
we create our own.
It’s not a recipe book!
It’s need knocking on the door.
It’s word of mouth,
it is the lesson screaming.
There in the barrio, the revolution has already begun …
And it’s every day!
You know what it’s like to live facing the cowardice of those who take everything from us
and flaunt hypocrisy.
They talk about merit, democracy.
A traditional family
that invaded,
and considered black and Indian animal.
Considered and still considers
We are cockroaches to them
They’re disgusted; they crush us
With their centuries-old racism
Prepare yourselves
because the Ghettos are taking up arms
They’re getting informed
And forming the quilombo
We cast spells
and rise up to confrontation
Because that’s where they will fall
The black woman is on the front lines
With strength to fight
and so much intellect!
Don’t come asking for mercy
Because what is ours
They won’t take anymore!

(Poem by Má Reputação)

From this artistic and cultural effervescence in South Bahia, the sound of Cijay emerges in defense of black youth, echoing the voices of the community. Cristian Jesus exposes the contradictions of a flawed system, recognizing and explaining a crisis of intellect in Brazilian society. The rapper’s first album, Estamos Aqui! (We are here!), raises issues of social and racial inequality resulting from 300 years of slavery of African populations who were kidnapped and then enslaved on Brazilian soil. The name of the album stands as a reaffirmation of the majority black population in Brazil, people who have resisted Eurocentrism through successive processes of racial cleansing and whitening. These processes range from substituting slavery of African populations with the immigration of light-skinned ethnic groups (incentivized with government-donated land to work in Brazil) to the sterilization of black women as late as the 1990s. Since the second half of the 20th century, mass imprisonment and the genocide of black youth at the hands of the Military Police have been the main instruments of the barbarism that is the racist Brazilian state.

“Aquele Salve,”10 the first track of the album, employs elements of Afro-Brazilian culture to examine the ancestry that not only demarcates these subjects politically, but also geographically demarcates the cities of the diaspora. The North Zone of Ilhéus, Bahia becomes a stage for the false idea of ​​Brazilian racial democracy, in which black people and white people coexist with equal rights and their relations are supposedly constructed in a harmonious and non-racist way. The myth of racial democracy, as named and defended by privileged sectors of society (which are, in turn, supported by a social hierarchy that places black women at the base of its social pyramid), has not even touched the peripheral neighborhoods. Thus, the Brazilian State, through the Military Police, promotes the genocide of Brazilian black youth; while the spectacle goes on in congress, there on the stairwells of the favela, the funeral march proceeds.11

cijay ilhéus
Cover of the Album “Estamos Aqui” by MC Cijay. Cover design: Cristian Jesus. Used with permission.

In view of this devastating scenario for black lives, Afro-Bahian artists organized the First Afro-Bahian Meeting of Arts, in the Tenda Teatro Popular de Ilhéus, with the aim of boosting and giving voice to the dissident artistic productions in response to an ethics and aesthetics dominated by Eurocentrism. In the opening presentation for the event, the South Bahian rapper introduced an acoustic show with lyrics by Gilberto Gil, Luiz Gonzaga, and songs from his new album coming out this year. The performance demonstrated the character of his new album, which drew on different rhythms and sounds, and maintained a flow that other Afro-Brazilian artists have adopted in their productions. The show was followed by speeches about diversity in musical production. The amalgam of genres that intersect to solidify and give voice to the discourse of his lyrics reminds me of the recent album released by fellow Bahian rapper Baco Exú do Blues. The reflection on the communal spaces of black people of the African diaspora is central to BLUESMAN. In his new album, Baco incorporates slavery as well as a range of symbols and allegories into the black Brazilian identity, using the emotion of blues and the sonority of jazz, diversifying and experimenting with various influences.

The practice of reducing the image of African people to the childish, docile, and creative is endorsed and legitimized in nineteenth-century Romantic literature (Adolfo Caminha’s Bom-Crioulo, for example). In this sense, the narratives of the Western tradition imposed homogenization on the subjectivities, complexities, and diversity of black identities. Today, BLUESMAN highlights, above all, the resignification of elements of culture. In saying that everything appropriated by the white man turns into blues, foundational elements of black diaspora creations appear on the scene: jazz, blues, funk, samba, the very Orisha that bears the name expands its semantic field by assuming the pseudonym Baco Exú do Blues.

The first time a white man observed a black man, not as an aggressive “animal” or laborer devoid of intelligence. This time he saw the talent, the creativity, the music! The white world had never felt anything like the blues. A black man, a guitar and a knife. Born in the struggle for life, born strong, born sharp. For the actual need to exist! What does it mean to be a bluesman? It means being the opposite of what others think. It means going against the current, being the force itself, being our own root. It means knowing that we were never an automatic reproduction of the submissive image that was created by them. Fuck the image you created. I’m not legible. I’m not comprehensible. I am my own god; I am my own saint; my own poet. You look at me like a black canvas, by a single painter. Only I can do my art. Only I can describe myself. You do not have that right. I am not obliged to be what you expect! We are much more! If you do not fit into what they expect … You are a bluesman (you are a bluesman, you are a bluesman, you are a bluesman).

(Excerpt from “BB King,” last track of BLUESMAN)

Casting this hybrid look at the cultural amalgam that composes him as a subject, Baco adopts elements of European culture imposed on the African and indigenous peoples, but gives them new meanings. Here, Jesus is blues. This reminds me of the importance that Jesus has for people in peripheral neighborhoods—the tattoos with the name and face of the European Jesus. While on this subject, we should also reflect on the role of neo-Pentecostal religions, especially in relation to the election of Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency of the republic. The discourse of sustained hatred supported by religious racism, discrimination against the LGBTQ population, misogyny, and machismo in these spaces is evident from the statements leaders make to the masses who blindly followed and follow the call of these false prophets. The influence of neo-Pentecostal religions in the election of the current head of state, a potential fascist, occurs even with a majority black population occupying these spaces, leading us to a debate about the discursive field of black people’s subjection to a logic of denial of their selves and their history. The twists in the branches of oblivion and the name given through Christian baptism are some of the principles of this racist logic impregnated and imposed with all sorts of symbols and allegories in the minds of the black Brazilian population; since the beginning of the European colonialist and imperialist journey in the world, Christianity has had a fundamental role in this imposition.

Another interesting dialogue within these artistic productions is evident on the cover of Baco Exú do Blues’s first album, Esú (2017), and the cover of Sobrevivendo ao Inferno12 (1997) by the Racionais MC’s; they unveil the relations between the Western religious model (Christianity) and African religious models, as well as the meanings that these subjects have engraved in the world. On the cover of Sobrevivendo ao Inferno, a cross and a psalm appear as representations of the colonizer’s cultural imposition and the resemantization of these allegories in symbols. On the cover of Exú do Blues’s album, Esú, a black body opens up his arms like Christ crucified on the cross in front of Salvador’s Church of the Third Order of Saint Francis, which was erected under the salt and sweat of enslaved Africans in the eighteenth century, “a period in which almost half of the total number of Africans entered the country, approximately 68% of them from Angola and 32% from the Costa da Mina (Bight of Benin).”13 In Baco Exú do Blues, the noun Baco (Bacchus), Roman god of pleasure and wine, functions to affirm the cultural identity of the Orisha of communication, paths, and crossroads, Eshu. Interesting reflection when interpreting the psalm on the cover of the album mentioned above.

Experiences are not the same. The experience of gender for black women is completely different from that of white women; faith and religiosity are constructed from different enunciative loci; it is in the order of discourse! On this topic, Judith Butler helps us reflect on cultural data, a practice she understands as significant and, therefore, linguistic. It is at this point that the resignification of certain elements, those corresponding to the routine of linguistic life, ties into the discourse. Or as Baco says, culture is my fever! in the lyrics of the first track, “Bluesman.”

The artistic and cultural power that Cijay represents in the community is transformative. In an interview with the Department of Cultural Affairs of Ilhéus (SECULT), Cijay, representing the Coletivo Rap de Rua (Street Rap Collective), discusses the potential for hip hop culture to transform realities:

More than making rhymes, than singing, than rapping (+) We hip hop culture people, with the hip hop movement, want to attract people to cultivate hip hop culture themselves, to make rhymes, to make poetry. And to this end, I ally myself with my collective, coletivo rap de rua (+) that undertakes actions in the socio-cultural field ::: (++) Workshops (+) We make poetry on the bus; we also bring culture to communities and to the Ariston Cardoso penitentiary, because we believe that art has the power to transform people’s lives, to transform people’s reality.14

(Cijay in an interview for SECULT-Ilhéus)

In this spectrum, the Coletivo Rap de Rua, founded by the MC’s, Cijay, and Pawlista PDF (Mateus Jordão) in 2013, is a black political organization whose main objective is connecting and organizing black and peripheral youth. For this purpose, the project Poesia no Busu (Poetry on the Bus) emerged as one of the main tools for making citizens aware of the community, taking protest poetry to public transportation in Ilhéus. In conversation with Emilly PDF and Pawlista PDF, the artists discuss how the presence of the collective within the bus has brought about changes in the city’s political landscape. The contributions of the collective range from boycotting the reelection of state representative Ângela Souza, who was accused of active corruption and fraud—and who is, not coincidentally, the mother of the current mayor of Ilhéus, with whom she stood side by side during the electoral campaign for mayor in 2016—to visiting and performing in numerous schools in the municipalities of Ilhéus and Itabuna, as well as appearing at UESC and UFSB,15 private colleges, and the Ariston Cardoso Prison. The poets recite on the swaying bus, kept in balance by inspiration and responsibility for the reality that they share, using poetry to transform and overthrow structures, reworking narratives and promoting reflection on the relations of control and power in the realms of class, race, gender, and sexuality.

It is the fundamental part of the revolution: It is this idea of poetry on the bus (+) It is our way of making people listen to us. Our target audience is the community (+) And where is the community? On those buses that go by day after day (+) It was the way we found to talk about what happens in the favela, what happens in the ghetto, what the police do to us. So there is no better way to enter into dialogue with the community, with society. That is where the next stage of our revolution begins.16

(Emilly PDF from the Coletivo Rap de Rua and Grupo Poesia de Favela—Collective for Poetry of the Favela)

In addition to the Coletivo Rap de Rua, Emilly PDF and Pawlista PDF are allied in Grupo Poesia de Favela, which wields the literary-musical genre to articulate silenced and interdicted narratives. Emilly PDF is a professional axé singer as well as an Afro dance and pole dance instructor; in her performances, she emphasizes the experience of being a black woman, a single woman, a mother, and a follower of candomblé in the fight against the suppression and subservience of these bodies.

The multitudes of voices that are heard through artistic production in the South of Bahia open up a horizon of possibilities for enunciation in spaces of power. Written productions by female authors, as with Profundanças, open up space for the publication of diasporic women, who from their different perspectives speak of their life experiences to illustrate the realities they share. In the walls and street corners Mulheres Sem Medo (Women Without Fear) is the tag that shouts out to the city; the poets of the streets and buses make their bodies’ transit the starting point of the constant displacements of their reflections. Cia Trapizonga de Teatro uses the medium between voice, body, image, and word to contemplate African ancestry making silenced voices echo in time and space, politically demarcating the territories of squares, schools, universities. The power of Cijay’s music and the collectives Coletivo Rap de Rua, Xota 073, and Grupo Poesia de Favela work on top of the open sutures of the Brazilian State. The overhaul of ethics that these artists propose decentralizes the hegemonic discourse and invites reflection on what is evident and wide open, lacking scruples, lacking shame, and to this end it is enough to recognize that the color of the hand of those who collect cans during carnival is the same as those who sleep on the street, the same as those who wash the dishes in middle-class homes, and the same as those who are imprisoned en masse.

The redirection of the gender debate, allying it with issues of class, race, and sexuality, illustrates a new moment in the construction of art that does not pledge allegiance to the Western tradition, sending tremors through existing ethics! The artistic-intellectual productions of the black diaspora in the South of Bahia, with their discourses allied in the fight against a genocidal and dictatorial system, cross out the narratives of Eurocentrism. Conversations about ethnic-racial relations, gender and sexuality in the field of music, the performing arts, visual arts, and literature, as well as the control of university space (as is the case with UFSB with 80% of places reserved for quota holders: black, indigenous, and transgender people as well as residents of quilombolas) are a revolution from which there is no turning back. The agenda has been set! The production of African diaspora artists in the South of Bahia shows us that it is during moments of crises that we lay our foundations, and rethink power structures. And for those who didn’t believe us, we are here!


ANTUNES, Pedro Paulo Sammarco. Travestis envelhecem? São Paulo: Dissertação de mestrado em Gerontologia. PUC – SP, 2010.

BRASIL. Levantamento Nacional de Informações Penitenciárias / Atualização de Junho de 2016. Organização Thandara Santos; colaboração, Marlene Inês da Rosa. Brasília: Ministério de Justiça e Segurança Pública. Departamento Penitenciário Nacional, 2017.

BUTLER, Judith. Problemas de Gênero: feminismo e subversão da identidade/ 15ª ed. tradução de Renato Aguiar. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2017.

CIJAY. Estamos Aqui. Álbum musical produzido por MN Produções. Conexão Rap Baiano. Disponível em

DAVIS, Angela. Mulheres, Raça, Classe. 1. O legado da escravidão: Parâmetros para uma nova condição da mulher. Tradução de Heci Regina Candiani. -1ª ed. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2016.

EVARISTO, Conceição. Olhos D’água. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Pallas, 2015.

FOUCAULT, Michel. A Ordem do Discurso: aula inaugural no Collège de France, pronunciada em 2 de Dezembro de 1970. Tradução Laura Fraga de Almeida Sampaio . 24. ed. São Paulo: ediçõe Loyola, 2014.

GALDINO, Daniela (org). Profundanças: antologia literária e fotográfica. 1a edição. Ipiáu, BA: Voo Audiovisual, 2014.

GALDINO, Daniela (org). Profundanças 2: antologia literária e fotográfica . Ipiaú: Voo Audiovisual, 2017. 185f.: il.

IPEA. Retrato de Desigualdades de Gênero e Raça – 1995 a 2015.

LOPES, Nei. Bantos Malês e Identidade Negra. Rio de Janeiro: Forense Universitária, 1988

LOPES, Nei. Dicionário escolar afro-brasileiro. -2 ed. São Paulo: Selo Negro, 2015

MARCUSCHI, Luiz Antônio. Análise da Conversação. Ed Ática 2001 5a Ed 94. Série Princípios.

RIBEIRO, Djamila. O que é lugar de fala?. Belo Horizonte: Letramento: Justificando, 2017.

RIBEIRO, Djamila. Quem tem medo do feminismo negro? 1ª ed. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018

WAISELFISZ, Julio Jacobo. Mapa da Violência: Homicídio de Mulheres no Brasil. Disponível em

WERNECK, Jurema. Saúde da População Negra. Ed. Criola. Disponível em aceso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 14 de Fevereiro de 2019 acesso em 14 de Fevereiro Acessado em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 04 de Março de 2019 acesso 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019

IPEA. Atlas da Violência. Disponível em: acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019

  1. Adjective used to denote Itabuna, Bahia
  2. Quote by Conceição Evaristo, black writer from Minas Gerais, in reference to obstacles black writers face when publishing their writings. See
  3. Interpretation of a verse from “Tropicália” by Caetano Veloso
  4. The racist statement was delivered during a speech at the Club Hebraica in 2017. Ironically, if not tragically, it was applauded by the audience present.
  5. Interpreted from “parassé,” a noun that means disorganization/disorder according to Aurélio Buarque de Holanda Ferreira’s Mini-aurélio: o dicionário da Língua Portuguesa. eighth edition. – Curitiba: Positivo, 2010
  6. Excerpt from conversation with Joalisson Oliveira Araújo, Bachelor of Laws from the State University of Santa Cruz (UESC), February 8, 2019
  7. “Standpoint of speech” in Portuguese is “Lugar de fala.” The philosopher Djamila Ribeiro goes into depth on the meaning and connotations of the term in her book O que é lugar de fala? (What is the Standpoint of Speech?). To simplify, “the standpoint of speech” refers to the oppressed position of certain groups within the societal power structures and social environment.
  8. 073 is a reference to the area code in the South of Bahia. “Xota” could be translated as “Vulva.”
  9. The term denotes the emergence of a new literary medium that aggregates a plurality of textual genres. In a fold-out magazine format, the fanzine can give form to comics, poetry, short stories, collages, graphic experiments, etc. The artist who produces fanzines is called [in Portuguese] the fanzineira or fanzineiro.
  10. The track title translates figuratively to “That communion.”
  11. Excerpt from the song “Crisis of Intellect” by South Bahian rapper Cijay
  12. “Surviving Hell”
  13. LOPES, Nei. Dicionário escolar afro-brasileiro. -2 ed. São Paulo: Selo Negro, 2015
  14. Transcription based on conversational markers by Luiz Antônio Marcuschi in Análise da Conversação (Conversation Analysis)
  15. The State University of Santa Cruz (UESC) in Ilhéus, Bahia, and Federal University of Southern Bahia (UFSB)
  16. Interview on February 11, 2019 with José Lucas Campos and Emilly PDF and Pawlista PDF, members of the Coletivo Rap de Rua and Grupo Poesia de Favela; Ilhéus, Bahia.

Os políticos que ainda não caíram dos seus respectivos galhos
estão compostos com os que mantém o dedo no gatilho.

Augusto Boal

Ilhéus Cine Pivete Batalha do Conhecimento
III Batalha do Conhecimento na praça da Urbis, Ilhéus-BA, organizada pelo coletivo Cine Pivete. Foto: Analu Nogueira. Utilizado com permissão.

Compreender a formação do território grapiúna requer um olhar crítico direcionado ao intenso processo de resistência à imposição cultural, política e econômica do colonizador, o homem-branco-europeu-heterossexual. Nesse espectro, situa-se a diáspora afro-brasileira, constituída por um grande contingente de etnias transplantadas de diferentes partes do continente Africano, em especial aquelas pertencentes ao tronco linguístico Bantu. A reflexão sobre a amálgama de culturas que formam o Brasil, traduz-se na produção artística das artistas da diáspora negra sul-baiana. Mas o que tem o sul da Bahia a dizer sobre esse cenário dramático que se impõe?

A discussão premente das produções artísticas no sul-baiano, frente ao cenário conservador e fascista que tem ganhado forma e força, possibilita um olhar verticalizado sobre as relações de poder no Brasil. O eu político que se coloca nestas produções artísticas estilhaça as máscaras de silêncio que se impuseram ao longo da tradição ocidental. Nesse sentido, o intenso processo de resistência à imposição cultural, política e econômica do colonizador conferem aos artistas da diáspora negra sul-baiana um discurso corrosivo às estruturas de poder. O sul da Bahia tem jeito para o Brasil!

Não à toa, o resultado da última eleição presidencial coloca o Nordeste, e com ele a região sul-baiana na mira daqueles que defendem a posse de armas, a tese de “bandido bom é bandido morto”, e a obtusa e ignorante discussão sobre a “ideologia de gênero” nas escolas, bem como as fake news sobre o “Kit Gay” associado à figura do ex-deputado federal Jean Wyllys, agora exilado do país por ameaças e perseguições políticas. O assassinato de sua correligionária, a vereadora e defensora dos Direitos Humanos, Marielle Franco e seu motorista Anderson Gomes completa mais de 12 meses sem culpados. É nesse cenário da conjuntura política atual que a diáspora sul-baiana emerge identidades que através da arte repensam as estruturas do Brasil; o da terceira maior população carcerária do mundo, com mais de 726 mil presos, dos altos índices de feminicídio e a LGBTQbia que ceifa a vida de gays, lésbicas, travestis e transsexuais, tendo estas últimas categorias identitárias a expectativa de vida de 35 anos, muito abaixo da média nacional dos 75,5 anos. O que se desenha para nós é um país que mais mata travestis e transsexuais e é o mesmo que mais consome pornografia destas! O sol latino-americano que hoje ilumina o dia dos trópicos deste país situa um movimento de retrocesso e descontinuidade diante da estúpida retórica das elites brasileiras.

Já no segundo dia de mandato, o presidente eleito extinguiu o Ministério da Cultura. Os ataques à diversidade cultural, tendo como uma de suas prerrogativas o caráter “comunista” da Lei Rouanet – principal mecanismo de fomento à Cultura do país -, conduziram os atos de violência motivados por discurso de ódio a minorias sociais. Ainda durante o processo eleitoral, a presidente do partido de Jair Bolsonaro (PSL-RJ) na Bahia, Dayane Pimentel, em uma de suas infelizes declarações anunciou a censura prévia do Governo Federal à Bahia: “O Bolsonaro vai ser o grande fiscalizador cuidando da agenda cultural e intelectual. Essa apologia à ideologia de gênero e doutrinação escolar por meio dos direitos humanos terá fiscalização”, frisou a professora. “Essa será uma questão temática para o boicote, nesses termos, para favorecer a sociedade”. A fala da presidente do Partido Social Liberal PSL- BA nos faz lembrar de um trágico 13 de Dezembro 1968, momento em que é assinado o Ato Institucional nº 5, que além de prever a permanência dos militares no poder, também indicava a censura como um eficiente mecanismo de violência e repressão. O prenúncio da fiscalização da agenda cultural da Bahia representa um evidente processo de institucionalização da censura no Brasil de 50 anos depois.

Senhoras e senhores, ele põe os olhos grandes sobre mim!

Estes saudosistas da Ditadura Civil-Militar (1964-1984) legitimam seus discursos fascistas através do relativismo da imprensa hegemônica e o respaldo civil das barbaridades. Nas palavras do rapper sul-baiano Cijay, estamos todos em crise de intelecto! Neste contexto de censura anunciada, a turma do Programa de Pós-graduação em Ensino e Relações Étnico-Raciais da Universidade Federal da Bahia, campus Jorge Amado, parte dos trabalhos da disciplina Gênero, Sexualidade, Negritude e Pobreza para elaborar o I Fórum sobre Feminicídio e a Questão Racial no Sul Baiano. Com mulheres representantes de coletivos feministas, povo de terreiro, comunidades indígenas e ciganas, o evento dá forma à uma mesa com as demandas da sociedade civil, diante da realidade que se impõe a estes corpos. O evento também contou com a presença da Promotora de Justiça do Estado da Bahia Lívia Vaz, a Promotora de Justiça de Itabuna-BA Cleide Ramos e a Soldada PM Renata Rodrigues Mendes Mattos Santos, da Ronda Maria da Penha, compondo a mesa A Voz do Estado, e respondendo aos chamamentos pelo fim da violência contra a mulher.

As discussões procederam logo após a performance artístico-plástica Entre meu sexo e minha sintaxe: meu grito, da Cia Trapizonga de Teatro, composta por Tereza Sá, Telma Sá, Luan Bencos e Vinicíus Souza (participação especial), que recorreram à teatralidade afrocênica e elaboraram da sintaxe de seus corpos a verborragia do grito de mulheres diaspóricas, latino-americanas. A cena contou com a performatização de poesias contemporâneas, dentre elas canções de Luedji Luna e composições autorais do coletivo, que escancarou os inúmeros casos de violência doméstica e urbana contra corpos negros. Toma a cena quatro corpos-voz transviados ao feminino, refletindo sobre o legado da escravidão a condição da mulher negra brasileira, apontando para a presença de sua maioria vítimas de violência doméstica, nos atos de violência simbólica, psicológica, física e patrimonial. As intersecções de gênero, sexualidade raça e classe forneciam as bases para identificar o corpo de mulheres negras como principal alvo dessa violência, reflexo do racismo institucionalizado pelo Estado brasileiro.

Performance de Tereza Sá Batalha do Conhecimento
Performance de Tereza Sá e Telma Sá na III Batalha do Conhecimento, organizada pelo coletivo Cine Pivete. Foto: Analu Nogueira. Utilizado com permissão.

A realidade que se confunde com a atualização de um passado escravocrata se impõe perversamente às mulheres negras. Segundo os dados do Mapa da Violência 2015, os casos de feminicídio no Brasil aumentaram 54,2% entre 2003 e 2013, enquanto o de mulheres brancas caiu 9,8% do total neste mesmo período. O grito que ecoava no silêncio do auditório tinha na performance a emergência e urgência do Fórum, possibilitando refletir a necessidade do combate ao feminicídio e todas as opressões em que o machismo e a misoginia é a força motriz. Só em Janeiro deste ano, foram 980 casos de violência contra mulher registrados em Salvador!

Em 2016, um ano depois da promulgação da Lei das Domésticas assinado por Dilma Roussef, é articulado pelos grandes setores feudalistas um golpe jurídico-legislativo-midiático que depõe a presidenta através de um processo de impeachment. O Golpe de Estado teve também o apoio da classe média brasileira que rotineiramente discutia as “dificuldades” e a “inflexibilidade” de se pagar uma empregada doméstica. No Brasil, o serviço doméstico é composto em sua maioria por mulheres negras com baixos índices de escolaridade. Muitas vezes, a falsa promessa de famílias brancas, que as ofertam possibilidades para estudarem e se desenvolverem, acabam por fazer dessas mulheres escravas do serviço doméstico, em troca de casa e comida, a exemplo, o caso da exploração sexual e de trabalho doméstico de meninas quilombolas kalunga, em Cavalcante-GO. São as novas ou nem tão novas assim mucamas e amas de leite, que se traduzem na exploração e condicionamento de mulheres negras enquanto empregadas domésticas e babás. Diante desta realidade, o presidente eleito vocifera barbaridades sobre a história das populações transplantadas de África pra cá: : “O afrodescendente mais leve lá pesava sete arrobas. Não fazem nada! Eu acho que nem para procriador ele serve mais”,1 ou que os Africanos aceitaram ser escravizados. Este insurgir conservador racista, homofóbico, xenófobo e misógino representa a guinada do fascismo tupiniquim, com um total desconhecimento de sua história e consigo a conservação das estruturas oriundas do colonialismo. Como se não bastasse, a dissolução de importantes ministérios no combate às opressões, emerge o Ministério da Mulher, da Família e dos Direitos Humanos, desgovernado por Damares Alves, fundadora da ONG acusada pelo Ministério Público e Indigenistas por tráfico de crianças indígenas, além de defensora dos valores bíblicos, defendendo uma falsa titulação de Mestra, outorgada por deus… um desastre! Em conversa com Joalisson Oliveira, a seguinte reflexão sobre o parassé2 que representa este governo consegue sintetizar a motivação da escolha de tal ministra:

O fato de ela ser risível é um artifício político que sua excelência, o presidente, lançou mão. Como ele simplesmente não pode apagar as menções ministeriais à Direitos Humanos sem ser internacionalmente questionado, faz isto: torna-a subordinada a um freak show, um afã medonho em fazer com que os DH sejam motivo de riso, levados ao ridículo e ao descrédito.3

No início da aprofundada crise política instaurada por setores conservadores e reacionários da direita brasileira, depois de perderem as eleições para a candidatura de Dilma Rousseff (Partido dos Trabalhadores- PT) em 2014,– vale lembrar a ação imperialista norte-americana em um certo país rico em petróleo da América Latina, desde a reeleição de seu atual presidente, em 2017 – é publicado o Livro Profundanças, uma antologia poética e fotográfica, organizado pela Professora grapiúna Daniela Galdino, com a participação de mulheres de cada rincão do país. A obra discute, através da poesia, prosa e fotografia, a história dos corpos dessas mulheres e as ressignificações que assumem enquanto identidade política. Os textos discutem desde a sexualidade interditada e silenciada, explorando as potencialidades do corpo feminino, à reflexão de suas ancestralidades, subjetividades e lugares sociais. Profundanças é um marco na produção literária do Sul-baiano, pois assume a discussão sobre as alteridades de forma libertadora, colocando a escrita de autoria feminina como algo a ser discutido e lido! Em 2017 é lançado Profundanças 2, no dia 06 de julho, em comemoração ao aniversário de Frida Kahlo e em resposta ao golpe jurídico-parlamentar articulado, também, pela mídia hegemônica em 2016, depondo a primeira mulher presidenta do país:

“Mais do que nunca bradar se faz necessário. O nosso país está de garganta atravessada por um golpe. Um estado de exceção orquestrado ao modo jurídico-parlamentar irmanado a segmentos sociais odiadores tem violentado as nossas sensibilidades e usurpado os nossos direitos. Estamos na mira constante: nós, mulheres – ainda mais se negras, indígenas, trans, lésbicas, pobres. Ou sucumbimos à mira, ou inventamos formas de re-existir.” (Daniela Galdino)

profundanças diáspora bahia ilhéus
Capa da antologia literária e fotográfica Profundanças 2. Ilustração: Bruna Risério. Designer: Ícaro Gibran.

A luta pelo direito de existir se traduz nos caudolosos versos de JeisiEkê de Lundu, transsexual não binária, de Salvador-BA. A poética de Lundu recorre à discussão sobre os lugares de fala para se compreender a condição do corpo trans e a voz de suas palavras que tem lugar, cor e corte:

Nascida sem território,
cria da beira,
nem baiana nem mineira.
Nem menino nem menina,
sempre do lado de fora, sempre à margem.

Nem macacão nem vestido.
Desejo pulsante, corpo fluido,
engrenagem solta, criação de delírio, Espetáculo vida, isso não é teatro,
isso não é uma performance,
meu gênero é fluido,
meu corpo é onda, camaleão sem referência.

Reflexo sem espelho.
Antropofagia sem sentido.
Não quero aqui afirmar nada,
mas confrontar suas certezas consagradas.
Meu desejo não é quebrar nem juntar, mas existir.
Isso é um grito de alerta, não de socorro.

(Excerto de “Enquanto meus pés balançam” de JeisiEkê de Lundu)

O confronto com certezas consagradas tem como ponto de partida um processo de contracultura, de desconstrução da visão humanista e universalista, as quais determinaram as significações de um todo sobre o individual, e a partir disso, revisa-se o discurso essencialista que cartografa e cristaliza identidades. Este é o grito de alerta para aqueles que têm o discurso de ódio como força motriz na preservação de uma lógica binária dos sexos e do gênero, atualmente justificada pela tal “ideologia de gênero”.

Discurso para desertos, para ossos e rochedos,
Para homens surdos e mulheres apáticas.
Somos um Paraguaçu de fósseis, de lembranças marinhas.
Além da devastação em nossas margens,
Aragem alguma suaviza as dores do presente.
Não vislumbro novas galáxias.
Apenas patíbulos de condenados suicidas.
Apenas juízes e delatores,
Apenas sigilos oportunos.
Há um vazamento de tristezas em nossos olhos,
Cataratas mudas aguardam a vertigem do Espírito do Tempo.
E desencantos mofam nossas paredes.
Como mulher: dilato-me!

(Excerto de “Panfletos para Pirilampos e Magnólias”, de Rita Santana)

Este excerto de “Panfletos para Pirilampos e Magnólias,” de Rita Santana, incorpora o rio Paraguaçú em uma analogia ao corpo transviado, das margens devastadas, de lembranças de um passado de corte aberto no presente, sem vislumbre de futuros utópicos. A relação do corpo e a água, num processo ora de cura, ora de depositário de lembranças, me faz lembrar da relação de Dorvi, personagem do conto A gente combinamos de não morrer, de Conceição Evaristo, com o mar: “Vou matar, vou morrer. É lá no mar que vou ser morrente, Mar-amor, mar-amar, mar-morrente. É no profundo do fundo, que guardarei para sempre as lembranças […]. ” E, imediatamente, o escurecimento das ideias que propõe Djamila Ribeiro sobre o feminismo negro:

No fim, nossa busca é pelo alargamento do conceito de humanidade. Ao perder o medo do feminismo negro, as pessoas privilegiadas perceberão que nossa luta é essencial e urgente, pois enquanto nós, mulheres negras, seguirmos sendo alvo de constantes ataques, a humanidade toda corre perigo, (Djamila Ribeiro)

A reflexão interseccional que se faz dessa problemática social nos apresenta um horizonte de responsabilidades sobre a violência infligida sobre esses corpos:

Canso-me dos homens
E da sua estupidez de pedra
Da sua obscuridade de gruta,
Seu estado de inércia,
Sua velhice precoce,
Sua adolescência perpétua.
Sua covardia de demônios.
Sua desistência, seu desamor.
Sou uma mulher da América Latina! Sou uma voz diaspórica, negra! Venho de uma África que me busca.
E o que faço é atravessar oceanos, Decifrá-la em mim, em meu território. Minha pena é o meu remo.
Minha pena é a minha bússola. Minha pena é também minha nau.

(Excerto de “Panfletos para Pirilampos e Magnólias”, de Rita Santana)

Este movimento de deslocamento do narrador contemporâneo ganha força a partir da segunda metade do século XX no Brasil. A importação dos ideais estéticos europeus tem neste período um movimento de contra-cultura se sedimentando. Narrativas como as de Plínio Marcos, Caio F de Abreu, Maria Carolina de Jesus e Glauber Rocha, com o Cinema Novo, abrem espaço para se compreender um novo narrador. Este trata de suas angustias cotidianas, das dores encrostadas nos corpos. Este lócus enunciativo se performatiza através das experiências/vivências das personagens marginalizadas pelo Estado e a sociedade; mulheres negras, homossexuais, lésbicas, comunistas, prostituas etc, estilhaçam-se as máscaras de silencio através das artes, como quer Profundanças na contemporaneidade. Esta reflexão diz respeito aos lugares de poder ocupados por grupos específicos ao longo da tradição ocidental, reservando espaços de subalternidade para aqueles que não assimilassem a lógica imposta ou mesmo não comportasse aos padrões. Esta normatização compreende a urdidura da tradição ocidental fundamentada na ontologia/epistemologia/ética/estética, explicitadas em relações dicotômicas de poder, como representada nos pares: belo/feio, ser/não ser, razão/não-razão, justo/injusto, centro/periferia, preto/branco, homem/mulher, etc.

Não temeis a tirania do governo autoritário

Mã reputação ilhéus diáspora
A poeta e MC Má Reputação com seu filho João no colo na III Batalha do Conhecimento, organizada pelo coletivo Cine Pivete. Foto: Analu Nogueira. Utilizado com permissão.

Na cena do rap baiano as mulheres do coletivo Xota 0734 aliam as produções de músicas, fanzines,5

e poesia divulgando a cultura hip hop do sul-baiano com o protagonismo de mulheres pretas. A participação do coletivo em escolas e nas batalhas de poesia coloca a performance de seus corpos frente as contradições do Estado brasileiro na negação de direitos às mulheres, sobretudo mulheres pretas, mães e solteiras, o que corresponde uma grande parcela da população nesta condição. Pautas como a legalização do aborto e a luta contra o patriarcado são discussões prementes nas letras de rap e nos projetos desenvolvidos pelo coletivo. Uma das integrantes do coletivo, Karen Oliveira, a Má Reputação, se utiliza das redes sociais e os espaços das ruas para afirmar politicamente a amálgama de identidades que carrega, colocando sua arte à serviço do combate ao machismo, ao racismo, à LGBTQfobia e todo tipo de opressão. O perfil do instagram @projeto_tmj reúne mulheres pretas compositoras. A ativista das mulheres pretas, mãe, bissexual, jornalista, maconheira, fanzineira e macumbeira acredita na arte como dispositivo de libertação feminina e denúncia do racismo estrutural brasileiro. No ambiente virtual, publica seus textos em verso e prosa na página que leva seu nome, Má Reputação:

No beco ecoa a conversa
Cada uma em sua casa
de janela em janela,
desabafa o cansaço,
o descaso do Estado,
o trabalho mal remunerado,
tripla jornada,
Uma acolhe as outras,
tem escuta,
a gente burla as regras,
a gente cria as nossas.
Não é receita de livro!
É necessidade batendo na porta.
É troca de boca à ouvido,
é grito de ensinamento.
Lá na quebrada, revolução já tá tendo…
E é todo dia!
Sabe o que é viver enfrentando a covardia de quem arranca de nós o mínimo
e ostenta hipocrisia.
Fala de mérito, democracia
Família tradicional,
que invadiu,
e tratou preto e índio como animal.
Tratou e ainda trata
Nos veem como barata
Tem nojo, nos esmaga
Com seu racismo sécular
Pode se preparar
que os Guetos tão se armando
Se informando
E formando o quilombo
Olha visinha!
Nós faz feitiço
e segue pro confronto
Porque o tombo vai ser de lá
As mulher preta tão na linha de frente
Com força pra lutar
e muita inteligência!
Nem vem pedir clemência
Porque o que é dos nossos
Eles não vão mais tomar!

(Poesia de Má Reputação)

Da efervescência artística e cultural sul-baiana emerge o som do Cijay, na defesa da juventude negra e ecoando as vozes da comunidade. Cristian Jesus expõe as contradições de um sistema inoperante, reconhecendo e explicitando uma crise de intelecto na sociedade brasileira. O primeiro álbum do rapper, Estamos Aqui!, levanta as problemáticas da desigualdade social e racial consequentes de 300 anos de escravidão das populações africanas sequestradas e escravizadas em solo brasileiro. O nome do álbum se coloca enquanto reafirmação da majoritária população negra brasileira, que através dos sucessivos processos de higienização e embranquecimento resiste ao brancocentrismo europeu. Tais processos compreendem, desde a substituição do trabalho escravo da população africana pelo incentivo de imigrantes de etnias de pele clara para trabalhar no Brasil com terras doadas pelo governo, à esterilização de mulheres negras ainda na década de 90. Desde a segunda metade do século XX, o encarceramento em massa e o genocídio da juventude negra pelas mãos da Polícia Militar têm sido o principal instrumento de barbárie do Estado racista brasileiro.

“Aquele Salve”, a primeira faixa do álbum, retoma elementos da cultura afro-brasileira para se pensar a ancestralidade que demarca não só politicamente estes sujeitos, mas geograficamente as cidades da diáspora. A Zona Norte de Ilhéus-BA torna-se um dos palcos da falsa ideia de democracia racial brasileira, em que pretos e brancos convivem em igualdade de direitos e que suas relações são construídas de forma harmônica e anti-racista. O mito da democracia racial, tão dita e defendida por setores privilegiados da sociedades (sustentados por uma hierarquia social que situa mulheres negras na base de sua pirâmide), sequer chegou nas periferias. Assim, o Estado brasileiro, através da Polícia Militar promove o genocídio da juventude negra brasileira; enquanto lá no congresso o espetáculo se ergue, nas escadas lá do morro a marcha fúnebre prossegue.6

cijay ilhéus
Capa do álbum Estamos Aqui do Mestre de Cerimônias Cijay. Capa: Cristian Jesus. Utilizado com permissão.

Em vista deste cenário devastador de vidas negras, artistas afro-baianos organizaram o I Encontro Afro Baiano de Artes, na Tenda Teatro Popular de Ilhéus, com objetivo de impulsionar e dar voz às produções artísticas dissidentes de uma ética e estética pautadas pelo brancocetrismo europeu. Na apresentação de abertura do evento, o rapper sul-baiano introduziu um show acústico com letras de Gilberto Gil, Luiz Gonzaga e músicas de seu novo álbum que sai este ano! A performance seguida de manifestos sobre a diversificação na produção musical, recorrendo à experimentação de outros ritmos e sons, evidenciou o caráter de seu novo álbum, acompanhando um fluxo que outros artistas afro-brasileiros têm adotado em suas produções. A amálgama de gêneros que se interseccionam para dar voz e palavra ao discurso de suas letras me lembra o recente trabalho publicado pelo também rapper baiano Baco Exú do Blues. A reflexão sobre os espaços de circulação de pessoas negras da diáspora africana é central em BLUESMAN. No novo álbum, Baco situa o passado escravocrata brasileiro e toda sorte de símbolos e alegorias na constituição da identidade negra no Brasil, recorrendo à emoção do blues e sonoridade do jazz, diversificando e experimentando diferentes referenciais.

Endossado e legitimado na literatura Romântica do século XIX, a figura do Africano é representada pelas características de infantil, dócil e criativo, como em O Bom Crioulo (1895), de Adolfo Caminha. Nesse sentido, o que as narrativas da tradição ocidental impuseram sobre as subjetividades das identidades negras indica o movimento de homogeneização de uma categoria complexa e diversa. Ora, BLUESMAN aponta para a ressignificação dos elementos da cultura, sobretudo! Ao dizer que tudo apropriado pelo branco se torna blues, elementos das formações das culturas negras da diáspora africana aparecem em cena: o jazz, o blues, o funk, o samba, o próprio orixá que carrega o nome e amplia seu campo semântico ao assumir Baco Exú do Blues.

A primeira vez que um homem branco observou um homem negro, não como um um “animal” agressivo ou força braçal desprovida de inteligência. Desta vez percebe-se o talento, a criatividade, a música! O mundo branco nunca havia sentido algo como o blues. Um negro, um violão e um canivete. Nasce na luta pela vida, nasce forte, nasce pungente. Pela real necessidade de existir! O que é ser bluesman? É ser o inverso do que os outros pensam. É ser contra corrente, ser a própria força, a sua própria raiz. É saber que nunca fomos uma reprodução automática da imagem submissa que foi criada por eles. Foda-se a imagem que vocês criaram. Não sou legível. Não sou entendível. Sou meu próprio deus; sou meu próprio santo; meu próprio poeta. Me olhe como uma tela preta, de um único pintor. Só eu posso fazer minha arte. Só eu posso me descrever. Vocês não têm esse direito. Não sou obrigado a ser o que vocês esperam! Somos muito mais! Se você não se enquadra ao que esperam… Você é um bluesman (você é um bluesman, você é um bluesman, você é um bluesman).

(Excerpt from “BB King,” last track of BLUESMAN)

Lançado este olhar híbrido sobre a amálgama cultural que o compõe enquanto sujeito, Baco adota elementos da cultura europeia, imposta aos povos africanos e indígenas, com novos sentidos. Aqui, Jesus é blues. Isso me faz lembrar o lugar de amuleto que Jesus assume por sujeitos da periferia; as tatuagens com nome e rosto do Jesus europeu. Aqui serve também a reflexão sobre o papel que as religiões neopentecostais, sobretudo, tiveram na eleição de Jair Bolsonaro à presidência da república. O discurso de ódio sustentado pelo racismo religioso, a LGBTQfobia, a misoginia e o machismo nestes espaços é evidente, desde as declarações de seus líderes, às massas que seguiam e seguem cegamente ao chamado dos falsos profetas. O lugar das religiões neopentecostais para a eleição do atual chefe de estado, um fascista em potencial, situa uma população de maioria negra nestes espaços, nos conduzindo à um debate sobre o campo discursivo do assujeitamento de pessoas negras à uma lógica de negação de si e de sua história. As voltas nos troncos do esquecimento e o batismo de nome cristão são alguns dos princípios dessa lógica racista impregnada e imposta, com toda sorte de símbolos e alegorias, nas mentes da população negra brasileira desde o início da jornada colonialista e imperialista europeia no mundo, tendo o cristianismo papel fundamental nessa imposição.

Outro interessante diálogo dessas produções artísticas se evidencia na capa do primeiro álbum de Baco Exú do Blues, Esú (2017), e a capa de Sobrevivendo ao Inferno (1997), dos Racionais MC’s, em que são desveladas as relações entre a matriz religiosa ocidental (cristianismo) e as matrizes africanas, bem como os sentidos impressos por estes sujeitos. Em Sobrevivendo ao Inferno, a capa com uma cruz e um salmo despontam reflexões sobre a imposição da cultura do colonizador e a ressemantização destas alegorias em símbolos. Na capa de Exú do Blues, a via crucis do corpo negro abre os braços de Cristo crucificado em frente à Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco, em Salvador, construção do século XVIII, erguida sob sal e suor de africanos escravizados, “período em que se efetiva quase metade do total de entrada de africanos no país, aproximadamente 68% deles teriam vindo de Angola e 32% da Costa da Mina”7 Em Baco Exú do Blues, o substantivo Baco, deus da mitologia greco-romana dos prazeres e do vinho, é operado num trabalho de autoafirmação de sua identidade cultural pelo nome do Orixá da comunicação, dos caminhos e encruzilhadas, Exú. Interessante reflexão se lido o salmo da capa do supracitado álbum.

As experiências e vivências de gênero para mulheres negras são completamente diferentes para mulheres brancas. A fé e a religiosidade são construídas de diferentes locus enunciativos, está na ordem do discurso! Sobre esta questão, Judith Butler nos auxilia na reflexão sobre os dados da cultura, entendo-a enquanto prática significante e, por isso, prática linguística. É neste ponto que a ressignificação de certos elementos, aqueles correspondentes aos cotidianos e corriqueiros atos da vida linguística, se amarram ao discurso das artistas. Ou, como quer Baco, a cultura é minha febre! na letra da primeira faixa do álbum, Bluesman.

A potência artística e cultural que Cijay representa na comunidade é fator de transformações. Em entrevista para a Secretaria de Cultura de Ilhéus, representando o Coletivo Rap de Rua, ele discute sobre o impacto da cultura hip hop na transformação de realidades:

Mais do que fazer rima, do que cantar , do que fazer rap (+) A gente da cultura hip hop, do movimento hip hop a gente quer atrair pessoas pra fazerem também a cultura hip hop pra fazerem rimas, pra fazerem poesias (+) E pra isso eu me organizo com meu coletivo, o coletivo rap de rua (+) que desenvolvem ações aí no campo socio-cultural::: (++) Oficinas (+) A gente faz o poesia no busu, além disso eventos culturais nas comunidades e na penitenciária Ariston Cardoso, isso porque a gente acredita que a arte tem o poder de transformar a vida das pessoas, de transformar a realidade das pessoas.

(Cijay em entrevista para a SECULT- Ilhéus)

Nesse espectro, o Coletivo Rap de Rua, fundado pelos MC’s, Cijay e Pawlista PDF (Mateus Jordão) em 2013 é uma organização política preta que tem como principal objetivo a articulação e organização da juventude preta e periférica. Para tanto, nasce o projeto Poesia no Busu como uma das principais ferramentas no trabalho de conscientização cidadã da comunidade, levando poesia de denúncia no transporte público de Ilhéus. Em conversa com Emilly PDF e Pawlista PDF, As artistas falam sobre como a presença do coletivo dentro dos ônibus proporcionou mudanças no cenário político da cidade. As contribuições do coletivo vão do boicote à reeleição da Deputada Ângela Souza, acusada de corrupção ativa e fraude – e não por acaso mãe do atual prefeito do município de Ilhéus, com quem esteve lado a lado durante a campanha eleitoral à prefeitura da cidade em 2016 – à participação e apresentações em inúmeras escolas dos municípios de Ilhéus e Itabuna, além de momentos na Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Universidade Federal do Sul da Bahia, faculdades privadas e no Presídio Ariston Cardoso. As poetas recitam no sacode do busão equilibradas pela inspiração e a responsabilização pela realidade que convive, colocando a poesia à serviço da transformação e ruptura de estruturas, reelaborando narrativas e promovendo a reflexão sobre as relações de controle e poder nos âmbitos de classe, raça, gênero e sexualidade.

É a parte fundamental da revolução: É essa questão da poesia no ônibus (+) É a nossa maneira de fazer as pessoas nos ouvir. O nosso público-alvo é a comunidade (+) E onde é que tem a comunidade? Nos ônibus que passam dia-a-dia transitando por ali (+) Foi a forma que a gente achou pra falar o que acontece na favela, o que acontece no gueto, o que a polícia faz com a gente. Então não tem maneira melhor de dialogar com a comunidade, com a sociedade. É aí que começa mais uma etapa de nossa revolução.8

(Emilly PDF do Coletivo Rap de Rua e Grupo Poesia de Favela)

Além do Coletivo Rap de Rua, Emilly PDF e Pawlista PDF se organizam no grupo Poesia de Favela, se apropriando do gênero lítero-musical na verborragia de narrativas silenciadas e interditadas. Emilly PDF é cantora de axé profissional, professora de dança afro e pole dance, e ressalta em suas performances a experiência de ser mulher preta, mãe, solteira e de candomblé no combate à subalternização e subserviência destes corpos.

As multidões de vozes que se fazem ouvidas através da produção artística no sul-baiano conferem um horizonte de possibilidades de enunciação em espaços de poder. A escrita de autoria feminina, como em Profundanças, abre espaço para a publicação de mulheres diaspóricas, que a partir de seus diferentes referenciais dizem sobre suas vivências e experiências para explicar as realidades que dividem. Nos muros e esquinas Mulheres Sem Medo é o graffit que grita pela cidade. As poetas de rua e do busu fazem do trânsito de seus corpos o ponto de partida dos constantes deslocamentos de suas reflexões. A Cia Trapizonga de Teatro utiliza-se do intermédio entre voz, corpo, imagem e palavra para se pensar a ancestralidade africana, fazendo vozes silenciadas ecoarem no tempo e espaço, demarcando politicamente os territórios de praças, escolas e universidades. A potência da música de Cijay, bem como os coletivos Rap de Rua, Xota 073 e Poesia de Favela trabalham em cima das suturas abertas do Estado brasileiro. A revisão da ética que estas artistas propõem descentraliza o discurso hegemônico e faz um convite à reflexão do que é evidente e escancarado. Falta escrúpulos, falta vergonha, e pra isso basta perceber que a cor da mão de quem cata a latinha no carnaval é a mesma de quem dorme na rua, a mesma de quem lava a louça nos apartamentos da classe média e a mesma que se encontra encarcerada em massa.

O redirecionamento do debate sobre gênero aliando-o a questões de classe, raça e sexualidade ilustra um novo momento na construção de uma arte que não bate continência para a tradição ocidental, provocando abalos à ética vigente! As produções artístico-intelectuais da diáspora negra sul-baiana rasuram as narrativas do brancocentrismo, aliando seus discursos no combate à um sistema genocida e ditatorial. As discussões sobre relações étnico-raciais, gênero e sexualidade no campo da música, das artes cênicas, visuais e da literatura, bem como a ocupação do espaço da universidade (como acontece na Universidade Federal do Sul da Bahia – UFSB, com 80% das vagas para cotistas: negros, quilombolas, indígenas, transexuais, travestis…) são uma revolução que não tem mais volta. A pauta está posta! A produção das artistas negras da diáspora africana no sul da Bahia nos dizem que em momentos de crise é onde assentamos nossas bases e repensamos as estruturas de poder. E para quem desacreditou, estamos aqui!


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RIBEIRO, Djamila. Quem tem medo do feminismo negro? 1ª ed. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018

WAISELFISZ, Julio Jacobo. Mapa da Violência: Homicídio de Mulheres no Brasil. Disponível em

WERNECK, Jurema. Saúde da População Negra. Ed. Criola. Disponível em aceso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 14 de Fevereiro de 2019 acesso em 14 de Fevereiro Acessado em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 Acesso em 13 de Fevereiro de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 04 de Março de 2019 acesso 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019

IPEA. Atlas da Violência. Disponível em: acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019 acesso em 04 de Março de 2019

  1. A declaração racista foi proferida durante uma palestra no clube Hebraica em 2017, e ironicamente, senão trágica, foi aplaudida pela plateia presente.
  2. Passaré:Palhaçada ridícula, algo sem noção. in
  3. Trecho de conversa com Joalisson Oliveira Araújo, bacharel em Direito pela Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz – UESC. 08 de Fevereiro de 2019
  4. 073 é uma referência ao código telefônico de área no sul da Bahia.
  5. O termo dá conta da emergência de um novo suporte literário que agrega uma pluralidade de gêneros textuais.
  6. Trecho da música Crise de Intelecto do rapper sul-baiano Cijay
  7. LOPES, Nei. Dicionário escolar afro-brasileiro. -2 ed. São Paulo: Selo Negro, 2015
  8. Entrevista de José Lucas Campos com Emilly PDF e Pawlista PDF, integrantes do Coletivo Rap de Rua e Grupo Poesia de Favela; Ilhéus, Bahia; 11 de fevereiro 2019.

Carlos Heitor Cony and Pessach: A travessia

Carlos Heitor Cony e Pessach: a travessia

Memory and Literary Resistance, Fifty Years Later

Memória e Resistência literária há mais de 50 anos

By Eduardo Baccarin-Costa

De Eduardo Baccarin-Costa


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Some of Brazil’s most celebrated authors are Jewish. The novelist Clarice Lispector is perhaps the most famous example, and other Jewish writers, including Moacyr Scliar, Vladimir Herzog, and Carlos Heitor Cony, were on the front lines of resistance to Brazil’s military dictatorship. Through a mixture of reportage and literary analysis, scholar and author Eduardo Baccarin-Costa takes a look at the life of Carlos Heitor Cony and the author’s elaboration of the novel Pessach: A travessia (Pessach: The Journey). And, when Baccarin-Costa guides us into Cony’s world, we find ourselves at the intersection of Jewish identity and committed political resistance against oppressive regimes.

On August 16, 2016, while much of Brazil had turned its attention to the fight for the gold medal in women’s volleyball during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, I had a meeting with a living piece of Brazil’s literary history. Specifically, I sat down with a leader of literary resistance to the military dictatorship: Carlos Heitor Cony. Millions, perhaps billions of people on this planet were focused on the ongoing competitions in Rio, the Cidade Maravilhosa. As for me, only a meeting with this author could bring me to the city on those dates.

The goal of the meeting was to collect information for my master’s thesis research in literary studies. I was particularly interested in Coney’s novel Pessach: A travessia (Pesach: The Journey). The year following our conversation would mark fifty years since the novel’s first edition.

Upon entering the writer’s apartment – which was very simple when compared to the typical home in the Lagoa Rodrigo de Feitas neighborhood – I saw Carlos Heitor Cony siting in a wheelchair, which he had to use ever since suffering from a fall on a cruise ship. Despite knowing that the author was 90 years old, I was taken aback, having expected a strong, smiling man to meet me. A writer who would begin our meeting with a good-humored ironic joke. That was the author in my imagination.

Carlos Heitor Cony was an important figure in Brazilian narrative and political journalism. It is difficult to think about political commentary or literature without focusing on Cony (especially short narratives; Cony’s stories were published in the Folha de São Paulo up until the author’s death). He was an active journalist at CBN Radio, even at the end of his life. His contributions were so relevant that, when Cony’s mobility grew limited after his accident, the broadcast network set up a “mini-studio” in his apartment. Perhaps this is why I had built a mental image of this ninety-year old as spry and bursting with life.

The author was also the Chief of Staff for president Juscelino Kubitschek, a role that led him to write the official biography of the “bossa-nova president.” Because of his proximity to power and to the negotiations that shape politics, Cony served as a sort of bastion of resistance to the dictatorship. As early as April 2, 1964 (two days after the 1964 military coup), the essays he published in the newspaper Correio da Manhã confronted the newly established dictatorship with criticism, irony, and satire. It was with that irreverent tone that he referred to the 1964 coup as the “April 1st rebellion.”1

During our conversation, Cony sought to maintain the posture that had always characterized him – or, at least, that characterized the identity I had mentally constructed for him. As was very common in photographs, he appeared holding a cigar when he greeted me (it was Cuban, he said). Smiling, he insisted I make myself at home, and he stroked his mustache while lighting the cigar. He said he would not offer me whiskey, since I was on the job and he had received strict orders from the doctor to avoid drinking. With that, he began to tell me about his personal and literary trajectory.

Cony died a year and a half after this conversation. When I heard the news of his death, each minute of the interview came back to me. And the memory took on even more importance when I later found out through Flávia Leite, Cony’s assistant, that this meeting had been Cony’s last academic interview (he had only spoken with one other person afterwards, the reporter Geneton Moraes Neto from the cable news channel Globonews). Our conversation lasted for an hour and eighty minutes, not including introductions and a brief exchange of gifts – I handed him a collection of my poetry and he gave me the most recent editions of his books O ventre and O ato e o fato. The subsequent conversation was truly a lesson on politics, literature, and history. If it were not for my limited space here, I would include far more content from that meeting.

I was especially eager to learn more about the journeys that both author and character had embarked on in the novel Pessach: A travessia. In the novel, the narrator-protagonist recounts his trajectory as a commercially successful author who later becomes a member of the guerilla resistance and a socially engaged author committed to the reestablishment of a democratic state. Even this premise involves a conflict in identity, but in Pessach: A travessia, the questioning of identity goes much further. Paulo Simões, the novel’s protagonist, is the son of Jewish Holocaust survivors, and he constantly denies his Jewish roots, starting with his name. Paulo Simões is, in actuality, Paulo Simon.

Reflecting on this character, Cony states: “Paulo Simões was moving away from erotic, pornographic, and inconsequential literature, towards a literature that was more engaged, political…this is what happened to me. I think the double allegory is beautiful. See, Jews bought the book thinking that it was a reference to Passover, but that isn’t the case, even though there is an inter-textual connection. Even though Paulo Simões hides his Jewish identity, since he stops using his name, Paulo Simon, going by Paulo Simões instead, and even though it is a book that could have been written at another historical moment, I decided that right then was the time to depict the reality we were living.”

The exact moment that Cony referred to is the beginning of the Brazilian military dictatorship. He began to write the book Pessach: A travessia in the first of the six periods of imprisonment that the author suffered during the dictatorial regime. His first time in prison is especially relevant to the history of Brazilian culture. Along with Cony, another seven intellectuals were imprisoned on charges of disrupting public order by booing the military president Castelo Branco at a meeting of the Organização dos Estados Americanos (Organization of American States), held in the Glória Hotel in Rio de Janeiro. All were detained for six months. There, in prison, Thiago de Mello finished his book of poems entitled Faz escuro mas eu canto (It Is Dark But I Sing), Glauber Rocha wrote part of the screenplay for the film Terra em Transe (Entranced Earth), and Antonio Callado completed a section of the book Quarup.

In Cony’s novel, Paulo Simões’s identity crisis is a metaphorical way of speaking about the censorship, repression, and arbitrary imprisonments that swept Brazil after the military coup. The narrator’s parents, who were Holocaust survivors, feel unendingly persecuted, even while they live in a country supposedly beyond the reach of fascism and Nazi persecution. The echoes of the Third Reich that fell two decades before continue to affect the physical and mental health of Paulo Simões’s family. In a conversation with his parents, the narrator is privy to the following exchange:

-As bad as the government is, at least no one is thinking about exterminating the Jews.
-But they could. Right now, they’re thinking about exterminating communists. At some point the communists will all be dead, and how does a dictatorship keep itself in power without an enemy to exterminate? The internal enemy, the one that’s always the scapegoat for oppressive regimes, is the Jew. Today, Christianity gives Judaism its blessing in a paternalistic or fraternizing way, but for centuries they were the ones who threw us into the fire. I know these things, son, I know these things.2

The feeling of unending persecution is part of the many traumas that have marked Jewish identity throughout history. Like his character, Cony had that experience personally, and translated it into the novel. The notion that violent regimes oppress Jewish people in particular functions as a metaphor for the condition into which the protagonist is inserted. Whether to flee from himself and his personal identity and from resistance to a dictatorship that persecutes its political opposition constitutes Paulo Simões’s great internal conflict. And even without knowing about that dilemma, the father gives his son a cyanide pill. If confronting your identity becomes that fraught, end your own existence, the narrator deduces.

In this scene, there is an intriguing detail that reveals how literature and historical fact enter into direct dialogue with one another: a few years after the publication of Pessach: A travessia, Carlos Marighella3 was murdered. Two cyanide pills were found in his briefcase. Fear of death at the hands of the persecutors was constant. Fleeing oppressive forces, whether Nazis or Brazilian soldiers, the goal; death by cyanide, the method.

Confronting his deepest personal values and his own identity, Paulo Simões has to “pass over” that conflict in order to ultimately complete his journey. First, he must decide between continuing to write a novel that narrates a saga of the Jewish people and resuming his career as a commercial author. Not only that: he could also choose to become a kind of guerilla fighter and abandon words altogether, making his daughter proud and relieving his parents’ anguish, or he could continue his petit-bourgeois lifestyle, pursuing his limited, brief love affairs while watching his ex-wife getting sucked into an abusive and aggressive relationship. At every turn, identity is in question.

Pessach: A travessia proposes a discussion of identity, and through identity, resistance to dictatorship. In a way, the Jewish people’s first attempts to leave Egypt has, as its goal – as is narrated in chapters 7-14 of that book – to simply escape the censorship that the Pharaoh imposed on them by preventing Jews from practicing their religion. Fleeing to the Promised Land comes later. Cony comments on that relationship: “I used this title with its double meaning for the following reason. Pessach, in Hebrew, means passing over. Passing over means the following: you have a point A and a point B. Pessach makes it so that you pass over from one point to the other. But when you refer to a journey, it’s different, it’s a different semantic field, it’s different… it’s when you go from A to B, crossing through all of the obstacles, hunger, thirst, enemies, you see? When you pass over you lose nothing, because you leave and arrive without having to go through anything, while a journey is different, you cross through, leaving pieces in your wake, like the people who die, who are tortured, who are forced into exile. Pessach means passing over, which means overcoming difficulties, but the journey means passing through, leaving a trail behind you. That’s where this polysemic, ambiguous title comes from, because we had to pass over older literature and began to mature with José Lins do Rego, Graciliano Ramos, and others, but at the same time, we had to make a journey through the frightening political moment that Brazil was going through.”

Even though Cony is far more respected as a narrative essayist than as a novelist in the academy, he managed to propose a new path for Brazilian literature in his novel Pessach: A travessia. Many theorists consider the novel the first text in what is known as socially committed leftist literature and resistance to the dictatorship. At its core, this narrative constantly presents issues of identity as metaphors for the role that Brazilian literature itself must take in the turbulent 1960s and under dictatorial rule. In this way, though Paulo Simões and Brazilian literature might similarly deny their roots in opposition and resistance and as the targets of persecution, they both needed to and, in fact, did embark on their journey through a dark moment in Brazilian history. They left pieces of themselves behind, to use Cony’s allegory. Or, to paraphrase Guevara: always resisting, but never losing our kindness or sense of self.


  1. April 1st is considered April Fool’s Day in Brazil. The military coup took place on the night of March 31, 1964, although some historians state that it actually took place in the early morning of April 1. However, the dictatorial regime “anticipated” the date so as to avoid being discredited and seen as a joke,
  2. CONY, 1999, p. 90
  3. Carlos Marighella was poet, political activist, and guerilla fighter during Brazil’s Estado Novo dictatorship (1937-1945) and military dictatorship (1964-1985). He was heavily persecuted because of his Marxist-Leninist political views and remains a controversial figure in Brazil today. For more, see:

No dia 16 de agosto de 2016, enquanto boa parte do Brasil estava com as atenções voltadas para a disputa da medalha de ouro no vôlei feminino, durante as Olimpíadas do Rio de Janeiro, eu ia ao encontro de uma parte da história viva da Literatura Brasileira, especialmente no que tange à resistência literária à Ditadura Militar: Carlos Heitor Cony. Milhões, quiçá, bilhões de pessoas no planeta estavam envolvidas com a disputa inédita realizada na Cidade-Maravilhosa. Quanto a mim, apenas o encontro com esse autor me motivara a ir para o Rio de Janeiro exatamente naqueles dias.

O objetivo do encontro era obter mais informações para o meu projeto de Mestrado em Estudos Literários e especialmente acerca do romance Pessach: a travessia, escrito por Cony e que no ano seguinte comemoraria o cinquentenário de sua primeira edição.

Ao entrar no apartamento do escritor – bastante simples para os padrões da Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas -, encontrei Carlos Heitor Cony sentado numa cadeira de rodas, vítima de uma queda num cruzeiro. Fiquei impactado, pois esperava um homem forte e sorridente, a despeito dos seus 90 anos, vir a meu encontro, com uma brincadeira bonachona e irônica. Como constituía aquele autor no meu imaginário.

Carlos Heitor Cony teve uma trajetória importante na crônica e no jornalismo político brasileiro. Difícil não pensar na Literatura (especialmente as crônicas, publicadas até três semanas antes da sua morte na Folha de São Paulo) e nos comentários políticos, sem tê-lo como protagonista. O autor participou ativamente do jornalismo da Rádio CBN, também até bastante próximo do fim da sua vida. A relevância de suas participações era tão grande que a emissora chegou a montar um “mini-estúdio” em seu apartamento, quando sua locomoção ficou limitada, por conta do acidente que o colocou numa cadeira de rodas. Talvez por isso tivesse construído em mim a imagem de um nonagenário saudável e esbanjando vitalidade.

O autor também foi chefe de gabinete do ex-presidente JK e essa proximidade o transformou em biógrafo oficial do presidente “bossa-nova”. A proximidade com o poder e com as disputas que movem a política, fez de Cony uma espécie de bastião da resistência à Ditadura. Já em dois de abril de 1964 (portanto, dois dias após o Golpe Militar de 1964), as crônicas publicadas no jornal Correio da Manhã já eram críticas, irônicas, satíricas em relação à Ditadura recém-empossada. De tal maneira que ele se referia ao Golpe de 1964 como a “quartelada de primeiro de abril.”1

No nosso encontro, ele procurou – pelo menos dentro da construção identitária que eu fazia dele – manter a postura que sempre o marcou. Como era bastante comum em suas fotos, Cony me esperava com um charuto – disse-me que era cubano – à mão. Sorrindo, fez questão de me deixar à vontade, e enquanto passava a mão no bigode, acendeu o charuto. Disse que não iria me oferecer um uísque porque eu estava a trabalho e ele tinha recomendações expressas do médico de evitar o álcool. Assim ele começou me contar sua trajetória pessoal e literária.

Cony morreu um ano e meio depois dessa conversa. Quando recebi a notícia de sua morte, cada minuto da entrevista veio à minha lembrança. E, quando soube, por Flávia Leite, sua assessora, que essa tinha sido a última entrevista que ele havia dado a um acadêmico, – só conversando depois de mim com o repórter Geneton Moraes Neto, do canal a cabo Globonews – essa lembrança ficou ainda mais marcante. A perspicácia, a ironia e o jeito simples de tratar coisas complexas se tornaram especiais nas minhas recordações dele, agora.

A assessora havia delimitado um tempo de noventa minutos para que estivéssemos com ele, especialmente devido às condições físicas do autor. Só a nossa conversa grava tem uma hora e quarenta e oito minutos, fora as apresentações e a troca de presentes – eu o presenteei com um livro meu de poemas e ele me deu as versões mais recentes de O ventre e de O ato e o fato -. O resultado dessa conversa foi uma verdadeira aula de política, literatura e história. Não fosse a limitação do espaço, poderíamos até colocar mais daquele encontro.

Eu estava particularmente ávido para saber das travessias que tanto o autor como o personagem fizeram no romance Pessach: a travessia. No romance, o narrador autodiegético conta como foi sua trajetória de autor de sucesso comercial até se tornar guerrilheiro e autor engajado na defesa do pleno restabelecimento do estado democrático. Só isso já se configuraria como um choque de identidade, mas em Pessach: a travessia, o questionamento sobre as identidades ainda vai mais longe. Paulo Simões, o personagem central do romance, é filho de judeus que sobreviveram ao Holocausto e nega o tempo todo suas origens judaicas. A começar do seu próprio nome. Na realidade, Paulo Simões é Paulo Simon. Sobre o seu personagem, Cony afirma que: “Paulo Simões estava deixando a literatura erótica, pornográfica, inconsequente e passando para uma literatura mais engajada, política… foi isto que aconteceu comigo. Eu acho bonita essa dupla alegoria. Veja, os judeus compraram este livro achando que eu fazia menção à páscoa judaica e não é, mesmo tendo um intertexto com ela. Embora o Paulo Simões seja um judeu disfarçado, pois o nome dele era Paulo Simon e já não é mais, ele só usa o Paulo Simões, é um livro que eu poderia ter, inclusive, escrito em outras ocasiões, mas julguei que aquela era a hora de mostrar a realidade que a gente estava vivendo.”

O momento exato a que Cony se refere são os primeiros anos da Ditadura Militar Brasileira. O livro Pessach: a travessia começou a ser escrito na primeira das seis prisões que o autor sofreu durante o governo militar. Essa prisão em especial é bastante relevante para a história da cultura brasileira. Junto com Cony, outros sete intelectuais foram presos, acusados de agitação quando vaiaram o presidente Castelo Branco numa assembleia da OEA no Hotel Glória, no Rio de Janeiro. Ficaram seis meses detidos. Ali foi terminado o livro de poemas “Faz escuro, mas eu canto” de Thiago de Mello, parte do roteiro do filme “Terra em Transe”, de Glauber Rocha, e parte também do livro Quarup, de Antonio Callado.

No romance de Cony, a questão da crise de identidade de Paulo Simões é o caminho metafórico para falar da censura, repressão, prisões arbitrárias que tomaram conta do país depois do Golpe Militar. Os pais do narrador, judeus que sobreviveram ao Holocausto, sentem-se completamente perseguidos, mesmo vivendo num país aparentemente seguro no que tange às perseguições nazistas e fascistas. Os reflexos da Terceiro Reich, terminada duas décadas antes, parecem afetar a saúde física e mental dos genitores de Paulo Simões. Num diálogo com seu pais, o narrador ouve o seguinte:

– Por pior que seja o governo, ninguém está pensando em exterminar os judeus.
– Mas pode pensar. No momento, pensa em exterminar os comunistas. Um dia, os comunistas estarão exterminados e como é que a uma ditadura se mantém sem a existência de um inimigo para exterminar? Esse inimigo interno, que sempre serve de pretexto para justificar os regimes de força, é o judeu. Hoje o cristianismo no passa a mão na cabeça, em tom paternal, ou fraternal, mas durante séculos foram eles que nos botaram na fogueira. Eu conheço as coisas, meu filho, eu conheço as coisas.2

A ideia de perseguição constante é um dos grandes traumas que marcam a identidade judaica ao longo de sua história. Cony, assim como seu personagem, conheciam bem essa realidade e traduziu isso no seu romance. A sensação que o regime de forças oprime especialmente os judeus, acaba funcionando como uma metáfora da própria condição que o personagem está inserido, no romance. Fugir de si mesmo e de seu confronto identitário e se fazer resistência à Ditadura que persegue seus opositores é o grande dilema vivido por Paulo Simões. E mesmo sem saber de tal dilema, o pai dá ao filho uma cápsula de cianureto. Se, confrontar sua identidade for muito pesado para você, acabe com sua própria existência, deduz o narrador.

Neste episódio tem-se uma dado curioso e que revela como literatura e os fatos históricos dialogam diretamente: poucos anos após a publicação de Pessach: a travessia, Carlos Marighela ao ser assassinado trazia numa maleta duas cápsulas de cianureto. O receio da morte por parte do perseguidor era constante. Fugir das forças opressoras, nazistas ou militares brasileiros, era o mote. Envenenamento por cianureto era o meio.

Confrontado nos seus valores mais íntimos e na sua própria identidade, Paulo Simões tem que “passar por cima” de tudo isso para fazer, enfim, sua travessia. Antes, porém, deve decidir entre a retomada do romance que narra a saga do povo judeu ou se continua sua trajetória como autor comercial. Mais até: se se torna uma espécie de guerrilheiro e abandona as palavras, dando orgulho à filha e justificando a angústia paterna, ou se continua na vida de pequeno-burguês tendo suas amantes a prazo e por tempo determinado, vendo a ex-esposa mergulhada num relacionamento abusivo e agressivo. Em todos estes aspectos, a questão identitária é tratada.

Pessach: a travessia propõe discutir as questões de identidade e dessa maneira fazer resistência à Ditadura. De certa forma, as primeiras tentativas de saída do Egito por parte dos judeus tinha como objetivo – como narrado nos capítulos de 7 a 14 do Livro do Exôdo – sair apenas da Censura imposta pelo Faraó, visto que lá não podiam prestar culto ao seu Deus. A fuga rumo à Terra prometida só acontece depois. A respeito dessa relação, Cony nos disse que: “eu botei o título com duplo sentido pelo seguinte: Pessach significa em Hebraico a Passagem por cima. Então a passagem por cima é o seguinte: tem um ponto A e tem um ponto B. O Pessach faz isso: passa por cima para chegar de um ponto ao outro. Já quando você fala em travessia é diferente, é através de é outro campo semântico, é diferente… é você ir do A para o B, atravessando todos os obstáculos, a fome, a sede, os inimigos, entendeu? Na passagem por cima você não perde nada, porque você sai daqui e vem pra cá sem passar por nada, ao passo que a travessia é diferente, é você atravessar deixando pedaços pelo caminho, como gente morrendo, sendo torturada, exilada… Enquanto o Pessach é passar por cima, é ultrapassar as dificuldades, a Travessia é passar pelo meio dela deixando suas marcas para trás, daí o título polissêmico, ambíguo, porque a gente tinha que passar por cima da literatura que se produziu antigamente e que começou a amadurecer com José Lins do Rego, Graciliano Ramos e outros e ao mesmo tempo tínhamos que fazer a travessia do momento político e assustador que o Brasil vinha passando.”

Cony, ainda que seja muito mais respeitado pela academia como cronista do que como romancista, conseguiu com o seu romance Pessach: a travessia, propor um novo caminho para a literatura brasileira. Vários teóricos consideram o romance, o marco inicial da chamada literatura engajada à esquerda e de resistência à Ditadura. Como tônica dessa narrativa, às questões identitárias são constantemente apresentadas como metáfora do próprio papel que a literatura brasileira deveria tomar, ainda que nos turbulentos anos 1960, sob o signo do regime militar.  Assim, tanto Paulo Simões como a Literatura Brasileira, ainda que negassem suas origens- de oposição, resistência e vítima de perseguições – precisaram e fizeram sua travessia nesse momento complicado da História do Brasil. Deixando pedaços seus para trás, para usar a alegoria que Cony usou, ou parafraseando Guevara: resistindo sempre, mas sem perder a ternura e identidade jamais.

  1. O dia primeiro de abril é considerado, no folclore brasileiro, o “dia da mentira”. O Golpe Militar foi na noite de 31/3/1964, mas alguns historiadores divergem e afirmam que ele aconteceu, de fato, na madrugada de 1/4/1964. Porém, para que o próprio golpe não virasse piada e não caísse no descrédito, em virtude do dia, decidiu-se “antecipar” a data.
  2. CONY, 1999, p. 90

In Search of One’s Own Image

Em busca da própria imagem

The Identity of Under-Development in Brazilian Cinema, 1968 and 2010

A identidade do subdesenvolvimento através do cinema brasileira de 1968 e 2010

By Gabriela Maruno

De Gabriela Maruno


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Here, the question of identity goes global. What is the peripheral identity of those who live in a country in the global south, whether in the context of a military dictatorship or current neoliberal global capitalism? Researcher and producer Gabriela Maruno takes on that question from an audiovisual perspective, looking comparatively at the construction of archetypal identities of the periphery in two Brazilian films, one from 1968 and the other from 2010. In addition to her compelling analysis of the audiovisual texts, Maruno adds an essential dimension to this issue of Artememoria by thinking about identity not just in a national political context, but also in the broader, international frame of inequalities in development.

The history of Brazilian cinema is a fragmented one, articulated through political and social crises that all too often strangle audiovisual production as though that were necessary for fiscal austerity. Even in the context of such uneven creation, we can identify sets of films that share aesthetics or ideologies in a way that allows us to understand them as part of a unified period or movement.1 Meanwhile, in contrast to this collective reading, some films have come to be historically documented as very unique authorial creations.

From these two paths come filmmakers who later make it their mission to reference past movements or filmmakers whom they feel indebted to, whose work they hope to recuperate, or from whom they attempt to create a kind of continuity. It is with this notion of continuity that we can understand how the work of Helena Ignez2 as director beginning in the year 2000 can be seen as the aesthetic legacy of Cinema Marginal3 – the term for a set of films produced in Brazil between 1969 and 1973. As we will see, the films share strong aesthetic similarities despite not being recognized as a cohesive and intentional movement.

Produced in a 1968 context,4 the films from Cinema Marginal express a constellation of marginal conditions in an effort to adopt the peripheral quality of Brazilian identity. We can see this in three aspects of marginal films: in the transgressive, failed, ambiguous, or fetishized figures that serve as protagonists (criminals, prostitutes, pimps, adulterers, corrupt individuals, social climbers); in the form of these films, which often adhere to the classic trinity of sex-drugs-rock’n’roll and, irreverently, to Hollywood narrative genres; in the discourse of these films, which, in anarchistic style, exposes the inability of political action in the face of crude and violent realities.

bandido da luz vermelha
Film poster for O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968). Source:
Luz nas Trevas – A volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha ignez peripheral identity
Film poster for Luz nas Trevas – A volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha (2010). Source: Divulgação Mercúrio Produções.

Helena Ignez resumes the strategies of Cinema Marginal while directing nine films from 2003-2018. The number is impressive, and not only because of the short time frame for production or because she began her career as a director at age 62. Helena Ignez develops a cohesive series of films consistent with the Cinema Marginal aesthetic. These films condense the experiences that Helena accumulated as one of the protagonists of Brazilian counterculture.

In this context, we can see Helena’s fourth film, Luz nas Trevas: a volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha (Light in Darkness: The Return of the Red Light Bandit) as the most concrete example of the connection between Cinema Marginal and her work as director. Luz nas Trevas is the continuation of the classic film O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (The Red Light Bandit), directed by Rogério Sganzerla. Since its release in 1968, the film has influenced and inspired Brazilian filmmakers and producers and has, more than any other film, established the framework for what would later become Cinema Marginal. Rogério Sganzerla’s creative legacy for Helena Ignez is the structure of the screenplay for Luz nas Trevas: he included notes on how the second part of the work could be carried out, even though the Bandit’s character dies in a series of memorable events at the end of the 1968 film.

Film trailer for O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968). Directed by Rogério Sganzerla. Source: Acervo Mercúrio Produções. Used with permission.
Unfortunately, English subtitles are not available for this trailer.

Film trailer for Luz nas Trevas – A Volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha (2010). Directed by Helena Ignez and Ícaro C. Martins. Source: Acervo Mercúrio Produções. Used with permission.
Unfortunately, English subtitles are not available for this trailer.


There is a range of possible points of comparison between the two films, given that aesthetic continuity – the use of Cinema Marginal’s form – is what most strongly underlies Helena’s work as a director. However, what we will discuss here is more closely related to filmic discourse: both O Bandido da Luz Vermelha and Luz nas Trevas are films that allow us to understand the composition of identities associated with the periphery. Even though both works are far from the classic cause and effect narratives (Luz nas Trevas does engage this approach slightly in the final part of the film, but it is still far from a conventional narrative), it is possible to find moments in which the films delineate the collective social identities of their respective periods. That allows us to observe how Helena and Sganzerla, each within their own historical context, understand these identities.

The 1968 film begins by briefly accompanying the childhood of the Red Light Bandit and then continues into the actions that lead him to become a tragic marginal figure, permanently surrounded by a set of archetypes and conflicts commonly associated with the developing world. We see how Rogério Sganzerla expresses political criticism through the way in which his Bandit’s conforms, in a very debauched way, to an identity considered typical in the “third world” at the end of the 1960s.

The Bandit’s death scene from the 1968 film. From O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968). Directed by Rogério Sganzerla. Source: Acervo Mercúrio Produções. Used with permission.

Then, in the 2010 continuation of the earlier film, we discover that the Bandit did not actually die. The new film follows his life in prison as well as his return to society – the theme of which, we will find, is the Bandit’s deep indignation about the distortion of his public image. In the context of contemporary capitalism, Helena Ignez constructs her critique of the society of the spectacle through a new Bandit, whose identity reflects the kind of individualism typical of the second decade of the 21st century.

Sganzerla directed his film pre-Cinema Marginal, during a period in which filmmakers used a style that would later be associated with that movement. It was also the peak of the Brazilian military dictatorship, a moment in which freedoms were attacked from all sides. In the words of the director,5 O Bandido da Luz Vermelha is a “revolutionary film, beyond the law, and can explode at any moment.” In this sense, the character of the Bandit brings together characteristics that could be understood as the array of identities typical of the periphery under capitalism: the excluded figure, doomed to marginality, an individual with no future, the product of a society still governed by colonial structures, filled with and motivated by corrupt and inadequate institutions – all in the context of a military dictatorship. The Bandit can be understood as a debauched and bitter social critic of the chaos that is existence in an underdeveloped nation.

The montage of scenes that the Red Light Bandit narrates or stars in reveals a socially isolated character, a man with no apparent family ties who grows up in the middle of a trash dump in the Tatuapé favela. He gets his hands on guns young, which gives him the backing to start attacking people as an adult. We then see the Bandit as a crude man, someone whose character is, quite possibly, the result of constant exclusion from public goods – a key sign of underdevelopment. When he tags a wall with self-referential phrases, we see through his spelling errors that he had little access to education; when he demands that his victims serve him an omelet, we see that he never learned how to use a fork and knife; in his robberies, he is constantly motivated by materialism and a desire to dress well, an indication that he longs to project the image of a different social class. He lacks the speaking ability to curtail conversations with the characters he encounters, but he has an almost caricatured level of talkativeness when presented with luxury and before he commits rape. His attempt to belong to a “crew of gangsters” fails, as does his most social interaction, which is his erotic relationship with Janete Jane. He lives in a room at a pension house, where he drinks water from the bidet. The space is cluttered with objects unrelated to his plans to get rich. He narrates his various attempts to take his own life – the first of which takes place when he is twelve years old, giving us the impression that he was aware that he lacked space in the world since a very young age.

sganzerla peripheral identity resentment o bandido da luz vermelha
Shot from the film O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968). Directed by Rogério Sganzerla. Used with permission.

The relationship we are drawing here – that of marginal identity as a symbol of underdeveloped society in a 1960s context – is not didactic in the film. We are not working with classic cinematographic language in which the chain of actions is made easy for the viewer to understand, nor is our goal to be deterministic, to prove that “the bandit is violent because he is the product of an unjust society.” Rather, we aim to demonstrate how Rogério Sganzerla uses the character of the Red Light Bandit to describe social phenomena in Brazil at that moment in history, and that the director’s resources (music, caricature, debauchery, violence, influences from popular American cinema) are mobilized to compose his critique in an impactful and performative way, coherent with the cinematographic practice he subscribes to – that of Cinema Marginal.

Sganzerla’s approach makes sense when we recall that 1968 is the year in which the military regime in Brazil institutionalized repression and violence. It was a context that lacked debate and social programs and that closed in on freedom of expression. In the face of this inability to act, you demoralize yourself, Rogério Sganzerla says in his manifesto Cinema Fora da Lei.6 In the violence in the periphery under capitalism, there is no room for information, but there is room for superstars: throughout Sganzerla’s film, media outlets serve to heighten the Red Light Bandit’s mythic aura (“a genius or a beast?”, “is he the Zorro7 of the poor?”) and to make each crime a serial thriller. Here, we can draw an analogy to the role of Brazilian media in the same period, which, for the most part, celebrated Brazil and its supposed full-throttled economic development.

And how do we conceptualize the construction of identities of the periphery in Luz nas Trevas? To begin with, the 2010 film was created in a historical context very different than that of the 1968 film, even though the sensationalizing of violence and severe economic marginalization of a significant portion of the population remain prevalent. Moreover, it is generally recognized that the stylistic approach of the 1968 film is no longer relevant in the 2010 context: the style of debauchery, montage, and the sex-drugs-rock’n’roll triad typical of teen angst had already been incorporated into the consumerism of popular cinema.

In terms of political content, we already noted that, in 1968, Cinema Marginal called out the inability to act in an oppressive context; in 2010, we observe widespread skepticism regarding social transformation and, more specifically, the notion that “in demonstrations of violence (like those performed by the rural bandit or the urban criminal) are signs of rebellion grounded in some notion of justice.”8 Within that context – and in contrast to the 1968 film – the Bandit who reappears in Luz nas Trevas does not manifest isolation and violence as indicators of underdevelopment. Instead, in 2010, we find a character obsessed with the consequences of the world forgetting his image – he is the typical 21st century individual seeking to sensationalize his own existence. Unlike in 1968, the construction of this era’s array of identities is not grounded in debauchery or mockery. Instead, it takes the shape of resentment.

The identification of resentment as characteristic in contemporary Brazilian cinema takes place for the first time in 2001 through observations made by Ismail Xavier, a critic and professor at the University of São Paulo. Resentment is a concept rooted in Nietzsche and then re-elaborated by the German philosopher Max Scheler (1874 – 1928), who defines the terms as the “personal poisoning of the soul, with clear cause and effect.” For Scheler, the starting point of resentment is the revenge impulse, which in turn finds its antecedents in a reprimand or insult – and both are physical manifestations of impotence.

From Scheler’s elaboration of the concept, we can compose a list of evidence showing how the 2010 manifestation of the Red Light Bandit is a resentful figure typical of the 21st century periphery. His indignation is no longer grounded in a lack of access to wealth or to a social class, but instead in his self-image, which, in this case, is found in the way the media represents the Bandit. The fact that he does not receive his deserved recognition – that he “doesn’t have a voice on TV” – leads him to try to escape from prison in an attempt to recover his status. The plan does go well, as we will soon see.

We can also identify the constituent elements of these identities of the periphery by noting the way in which 21st century individuals see themselves as the center of the world and above the law. That contemporary spirit is fully apparent in the 2010 Bandit. At various moments in Luz nas Trevas, the Bandit declares that he has been subjected to injustice, condemned for crimes he did not commit – a feeling that even transfers to his son, who declares him self “the most wronged man in this country” despite all of the evidence against him. In contemporary society, the commonly held notion of justice upholds the interest of the individual over that of the collective – a consequence of the principles behind global neoliberal policies that inherently exclude and individualize. As a prisoner, the Bandit does not participate in the debate over questions of incarceration or criminal justice; his trajectory is individualistic and vain. Drawing on the theme of revenge from the most ancient of intrigues, this search for what we understand as self-interest feeds and forms around the Bandit’s resentment, scene after scene in the 2010 film.

red light bandit luz nas trevas helena ignez resentment
The Red Light Bandit in jail with the 1968 film poster on his wall. Image from Luz nas Trevas – A Volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha (2010). Directed by Helena Ignez and Ícaro C. Martins. Source: Acervo Mercúrio Produções. Used with permission.

An obsession over the ideal of youth is another element that shapes this resentful identity. We can see intense ambition in the 2010 character, one motivated by competition and what could be interpreted as a kind of emulation of typical corporate behavior manifested on an individual scale. The media’s focus on the actions of the Bandit’s son (the criminal “Tudo ou Nada” – “All or Nothing”) inspires these competitive urges in the Red Light Bandit. Before his son becomes famous, and before a comparison is drawn between father and son on national TV, the Bandit behaved himself with a degree of resignation – more than once, he even agrees to confess to crimes he did not commit in exchange for mundane privileges. Ismail Xavier identifies the recurrent transformation of the marginal figure into the resentful figure in contemporary Brazilian cinema: “now out of place […] the bandit stops taking part in a movement towards a larger struggle as a sort of proto-revolutionary and becomes someone seen as contaminated by bourgeois values, surrounded by perfume and imported whisky.”9 The Bandit’s ambition to maintain control over his image and control his own representation does not come from unending imprisonment. Instead, it derives from the birth of a competitive image, that of his own son.

In the final ten minutes of Luz nas Trevas, we see the events following the Red Light Bandit’s escape from prison – a plot fundamentally motivated by the desire to restore his own media image, as we just described. However, All or Nothing is arrested at the same time as the escape, which results in the media spectacle of a comparison between father and son. The Bandit’s resentment dissipates when his cause for revenge no longer exists, and the Bandit seals his victory by declaring himself immortal. But the Bandit quickly notices how the world of 1968 is not the same as that of the 2000s, which in a sense weakens his ego. His entrance into the new world exposes a schizophrenic relationship to the 21st century, one that brings him to assume a new persona: Jorge Prado, champion of peace. He declares: “The Red Light Bandit is a thing of the past, now I am the Divine Light […]. Life is a series of farewells. Farewell to ourselves, and farewell to our own farewells.” Helena Ignez understands that the 21st century individual in global peripheries is a figure without revolutionary intent, someone who seeks an image of themselves driven by the media and coherent with the society of the spectacle that they belong to. She displays this thesis through the path of this new Bandit, for whom freedom is less important than his own image. And finally, when he becomes a missionary for peace, this character does not strive for his conversion, for forgiveness, or for repentance: he simply creates new opportunities for media coverage and for making a spectacle from his own existence.

By putting into conversation our analyses of these two constructions of identity in peripheral contexts – that of Rogério Sganzerla in 1968 and of Helena Ignez in 2010 – we can affirm that, even though there is a clear intention to build aesthetic continuity with Cinema Marginal in Luz nas Trevas, it is through the resentment of the Bandit character that Helena Ignez constructs social critique, while for Rogério Sganzerla it is the filmic form that acts as the basis for political commentary.

The 1968 film presents character almost in sketch form: there is little dialogue, a frenetic montage of images, voices, and sounds, all cast in the tone of debauchery (remember: “when you can’t do anything, demoralize yourself,” Sganzerla says). Sganzerla’s Bandit synthesizes, in this way, a set of peripheral identities forged in the context of underdevelopment during the military dictatorship of the 1960s and 1970s, replete with extreme limitations to freedom of expression. Consequently, the film’s form denotes the subject’s inability to act in the face of chaos and alienation. Helena Ignez constructs a set of 21st century peripheral identities by displaying situations that, together, wound the Bandit’s ego and ultimately make him conform to a resentful identity: neither revolutionary nor anarchist, but instead loud and very conscious of his own existence. The film brings us to the realization that, for Helena Ignez, exacerbated individualism is the post-modern identity. In a peripheral context, both the state of inaction imposed by an underdeveloped nation and acts of resistance condemn the individual to a resentful existence.

In sum, contexts of exclusion, underdevelopment, and marginality exist in both films, and both Rogério Sganzerla and Helena Ignez highlight these conditions as problematic. However, their methods differ in that Sganzerla’s revolutionary cinematic form has been incorporated into mainstream cinema and is no longer impactful enough to form a critique. Helena maintains an agile, ludic, and pop form, but she incorporates complexity into the Bandit’s existence. In 1968, the character is terse, reactive, and marginal, while in 2010 he becomes loquacious, rife with the vanity and existential doubts typical in the contemporary moment. In 1968, Rogério Sganzerla uses mockery and the form of his film in order to denounce the inability to act when placed in an underdeveloped context. The identity that forms in this context is one of an individual removed from social support, out of place, impotent, and violent. In 2010, Helena Ignez recognizes that violence and a lack of access to public services persist in post-modern society, but that in the peripheral identity of the 21st century, these qualities are trumped by the sensationalism of existence and a value of the self. The result is an individual who never manages to fully attain the status of the spectacle and who, ultimately, becomes a resentful being.


RAMOS, Fernão. Cinema Marginal (1968/1973): a representação em seu limite. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1987.

________________. Nova história do cinema brasileiro – Volume II. São Paulo: Edições Sesc SP, 2018.

SCHELER, Max. L’homme du ressentiment. Paris: Gallimard, 1970.

________________. Da reviravolta de valores. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Vozes, 2012.

SGANZERLA, Rogério. O Bandido da Luz Vermelha – Roteiro. São Paulo: Imprensa Oficial, 2008.

XAVIER, Ismail. Alegorias do subdesenvolvimento: cinema novo, tropicália, cinema marginal. São Paulo, CosacNaif, 2012.

________________. “Figuras do ressentimento no cinema brasileiro dos
anos 90”
. In Fernão Pessoa Ramos, Maria Dora Mourão, Afrânio Catani & José Gatti. Estudos de Cinema – Socine, 2001. Porto Alegre, Editora Sulina/FAMECOS. pp.79-98.

  1. Some examples of periods in Brazilian film include: Regional Periods – Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, and Paulista (1922-1931); the attempt to industrialize Brazilian cinema (1947-1959); Cinema Novo (1963 – 1970); and the Retomada (1992-2003).
  2. Helena Ignez, born 1941 in the city of Salvador (Bahia, Brazil), began her cinematographic career in 1958 as an actor and producer for director Glabuer Rocha’s first short film, O Pátio (1959, 12 min, BRA). After that first screen appearance, she went on to work as an actor in important Brazilian films including O Padre e a Moça (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1966, 93 min, BRA), for which she received an honorable mention at the Berlin Film Festival, and O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (Rogério Sganzerla, 1968, 92 min, BRA). In 1970, Ignez founded the Belair production companies alongside the Brazilian filmmakers Rogério Sganzerla and Júlio Bressane. Working at an exhilarating pace, they produced six films in record time, all of which were barely shown in the commercial circuit. From 1973-1985, Ignez took a step back from her career to raise her children; in 2004, after the death of Rogério Sganzerla, with whom Ignez had been married for 35 years, she started down her very fruitful path as a director. To this day, Helena Ignez is considered one of the emblems of Brazilian counterculture in 1960s and 70s cinema.
  3. Even though those involved in Cinema Marginal did not recognize themselves as part of a movement, many studies and archival documents allow historiographers of Brazilian cinema to classify the group in this way. For more information, see: Cinema Marginal 1968-1973: a representação em seu limite (RAMOS, Fernão. Editora Brasiliense, 1987).
  4. In 1968, Brazil was suffering one of a wave of authoritarian regimes established under the aegis of the National Security Doctrine, an ideology intensely disseminated by the United States. A series of popular protests against the Brazilian military dictatorship took place that year, placing Brazil in the scene of active political struggles at the end of the 1960s. One protest, the March of the One Hundred Thousand, brought together students, members of the church, artists, as well as other social groups. They walked through the streets of Rio de Janeiro in protest of the military regime that took over the country in 1964. The demonstration caused an intense reaction from the military, culminating in the dictatorship’s most authoritarian decree, the Fifth Institutional Act. Also in 1968, the military police invaded the 30th Annual National Student Union Conference in São Paulo, arresting the country’s most important student leaders. A few months before, a high school protest in Rio de Janeiro had ended in the murder of the student Edson Luís de Lima Souto, also at the hands of the military police. In a tone of nation-wide mourning, nearly 50,000 people took part in his wake and funeral.
  5. While shooting O Bandido da Luz Vermelha, Rogério Sganzerla wrote a manifesto entitled Cinema Fora da Lei (Film Beyond the Law) in which he expresses the foundations of his work. The manifesto is available at the following link:
  6. Also in Cinema Fora da Lei, Sganzerla says: “When a character can’t do anything, he demoralizes himself.” Full text available at:
  7. Zorro is a fictional character that gained popularity in the US and Latin America. The figure acts as a vigilante in order to defend common people against tyrannical rulers. For more, see:
  8. XAVIER, Ismail. Figuras do ressentimento no cinema brasileiro dos anos 90. SOCINE – Estudos de Cinema e Audiovisual,2001.
  9. XAVIER, Ismail. Figuras do ressentimento no cinema brasileiro dos anos 90. SOCINE – Estudos de Cinema e Audiovisual,2001.

A história do cinema brasileiro é uma narrativa fragmentada, suscitada por crises políticas e sociais que, não raro, decretam o estrangulamento do audiovisual mascarando-o como ato necessário de austeridade econômica. No entanto, ainda que em meio a tal irregularidade de produção, é possível localizarmos conjuntos de filmes entre os quais há compartilhamentos – estéticos ou ideológicos – que nos permitem compreendê-los como pertencentes a um ciclo ou movimento1 comum. Da mesma forma, existem filmes que, ao contrário dessa leitura de coletividade, são registrados historicamente como expressões autorais bastante particulares]

Dessas possibilidades derivam cineastas que, avançados no tempo histórico, assumem como missão referendar movimentos ou autores dos quais se sentem devedores, recuperadores ou, até mesmo, uma espécie de continuidade. É sob esta perspectiva da continuidade que compreendemos o trabalho de Helena Ignez,2 cuja produção como diretora (iniciada nos anos 2000) pode ser considerada herança estética do Cinema Marginal3 – nome dado a um conjunto de filmes produzidos no Brasil entre 1969 e 1973 e que, embora não tenham se reconhecido como movimento coeso e intencionado, compartilham fortes similaridades estéticas, como veremos a seguir.

Produzidos sob a conjuntura de 1968,[note]Em 1968, o Brasil compunha o conjunto de regimes autoritários implantados sob a égide da Doutrina de Segurança Nacional, profundamente disseminada pelos Estados Unidos. Uma série de ações populares contrárias à ditadura militar brasileira ocorreram naquele ano, colocando o país no horizonte ativo das lutas políticas daquele final de década. Uma delas, A Passeata dos Cem Mil, uniu estudantes, religiosos, artistas, entre outros setores da sociedade, que caminharam pelas ruas do Rio de Janeiro contra o regime militar instaurado no país em 1964; a manifestação causou uma forte reação dos militares, culminando com o decreto do Ato Institucional nº 5, o mais arbitrário dos decretos dos militares. Também em 1968 a Polícia Militar invadiu o 30º Congresso Anual da União Nacional dos Estudantes, em São Paulo, prendendo as principais lideranças estudantis do país. Alguns meses antes, um protesto de secundaristas no Rio de Janeiro terminava com o assassinato, também pela Polícia Militar, do estudante Edson Luís de Lima Souto, cujo velório e enterro foram acompanhados, em tom de comoção nacional, por quase 50 mil pessoas.[/note]os filmes do Cinema Marginal expressavam uma constatação da condição de marginalidade do país, um esforço em assumir a identidade brasileira como uma identidade periférica. Podemos dizer que essa crença aparece, nos filmes marginais, especialmente em três aspectos: no protagonismo das personalidades transgressoras, fracassadas, ambíguas ou fetichizadas (o bandido, a prostituta, o cafetão, a adúltera, o corrupto, a alpinista social); na forma fílmica, adepta à tríade sexo-drogas-rock’n’roll e aos gêneros narrativos hollywoodianos (ainda que sob uma ótica irreverente); no discurso fílmico, que escancara, de forma anárquica, a incapacidade de uma ação política face a uma realidade bruta e violenta.

bandido da luz vermelha
Fonte do cartaz:
Luz nas Trevas – A volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha ignez peripheral identity
Fonte do cartaz: Divulgação Mercúrio Produções.

Helena Ignez retoma este inventário do Cinema Marginal e, entre 2003 e 2018, dirige nove filmes, número que impressiona não apenas pelo curto intervalo de produção ou pelo início de seu trabalho como diretora aos 62 anos, mas por compor um conjunto sólido da continuidade estética do Cinema Marginal, condensando as experiências que Helena acumulou como uma das protagonistas centrais da contracultura brasileira.

Nesse sentido, podemos dizer que o 4º filme de Helena, Luz nas Trevas: a volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha, é o momento máximo da concretização desta conexão entre o Cinema Marginal e seu trabalho de diretora. Luz nas Trevas é continuação do clássico O Bandido da Luz Vermelha, dirigido por Rogério Sganzerla em 1968 e que desde seu lançamento impacta na formação e inspiração de cineastas e produtores brasileiros e, mais do que qualquer outro filme, lança as bases do que viria a ser o Cinema Marginal. As bases do roteiro de Luz nas Trevas foram deixadas por Rogério Sganzerla como herança criativa à companheira Helena Ignez, com indicações sobre como poderia ser realizada a segunda parte da obra – ainda que a personagem do Bandido tenha morrido, em sequência antológica do cinema brasileiro, no final do filme de 1968.

Trailer para O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968). Direção Rogério Sganzerla. Source: Acervo Mercúrio Produções.

Trailer para Luz nas Trevas – A Volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha (2010). Direção Helena Ignez e Ícaro C. Martins. Source: Acervo Mercúrio Produções.

Há uma diversidade de conjugações possíveis entre as duas obras, posto que a continuidade estética, ou seja, a continuidade da forma do Cinema Marginal, é o item mais latente do trabalho de Helena como diretora. No entanto, aqui optamos por debater uma conexão mais próxima ao discurso fílmico: tanto O Bandido da Luz Vermelha quanto Luz nas Trevas são filmes que nos permitem acompanhar a composição de identidades típicas periféricas. Mesmo que sejam duas obras afastadas da narrativa clássica da causa-consequência (Luz nas Trevas se aproxima um pouco desta estratégia em sua parte final, mas ainda assim não é uma narrativa convencional), é possível encontrarmos nos filmes situações que delineiam identidades sociais coletivas de suas épocas, e que nos permitem observar como Helena e Sganzerla, cada qual sob o seu respectivo prisma histórico, compreendem estas identidades.

O filme de 1968 começa acompanhando, rapidamente, parte da infância do Bandido da Luz Vermelha, seguindo pelas ações que o levam a se tornar um marginal de final trágico, sempre cercado de uma constelação de arquétipos e conflitos comuns ao subdesenvolvimento. Veremos como Rogério Sganzerla expõe sua crítica política por meio da conformação, bastante debochada, do Bandido como uma identidade típica do que era considerado como “terceiro mundo” do final dos anos de 1960.

Cena de morte do Bandido. O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968). Direção Rogério Sganzerla. Fonte: Acervo Mercúrio Produções. Utilizado com permissão.

Já na continuação de 2010, recebemos a notícia de que o Bandido não está morto, e passamos a acompanhar sua vida na penitenciária, assim como seu retorno à sociedade – cujo mote, veremos, é uma profunda indignação com a distorção de sua imagem midiática. No contexto do capitalismo recente, Helena Ignez constrói sua crítica à sociedade do espetáculo por meio de um novo Bandido, cuja identidade reflete o individualismo típico da segunda década do século XXI.

O filme de Sganzerla é realizado no contexto do pré-Cinema Marginal, um período de conformação do que viria a ser tal estilo, e no ápice da ditadura militar brasileira, na qual o cerceamento das liberdades foi imposto em todos os âmbitos – nas palavras do diretor,4 O Bandido da Luz Vermelha é um “filme revolucionário, fora da lei e que poderia explodir a qualquer momento”. Nesse sentido, o personagem do Bandido reúne características que podem ser entendidas como um painel das identidades típicas da periferia capitalista: a do excluído jogado à marginalidade, um indivíduo sem projeto para si, fruto de uma sociedade de moldes ainda colonialistas, cercado e motivado por camadas corruptas e desajustadas da sociedade, tudo isso em um contexto de ditadura militar instaurada. O personagem do Bandido pode ser compreendido como uma debochada e amarga crítica social ao caos que é existir em um estado de subdesenvolvimento.

A colagem de situações narradas ou protagonizadas pelo Bandido da Luz Vermelha nos apresenta um personagem isolado socialmente, sem laços familiares claros, de infância gestada em meio ao lixão da favela do Tatuapé, e cujo precoce acesso às armas lhe dá segurança para praticar assaltos durante a vida adulta. Em seguida, vemos o Bandido como um homem bronco, uma pessoa que é, muito possivelmente, fruto da contínua negação ao acesso aos bens sociais, marca maior do subdesenvolvimento. Quando pixa um muro com frases auto-referenciadas percebemos, pelos erros de grafia, que não teve longa passagem pela escola; quando exige a uma das vítimas que lhe sirva um omelete, vemos que não tem habilidade com talheres; em seus roubos, é constantemente movido pelo desejo de consumir e de bem vestir, indicando que almeja a aparência de outra classe social. Não tem articulação para travar diálogos com as personagens que cruzam seu caminho, mas é caricaturalmente falante nos momentos de luxúria e verborrágico antes de praticar estupros. Sua tentativa de pertencer a um “bando de gangsters” se mostra frustrada, assim como sua única interação social mais engajada, que é o relacionamento erótico com Janete Jane. Mora em um quarto de pensão, no qual bebe água do bidê e onde percebemos um acúmulo de objetos que não se conectam a um projeto de riqueza material. Sua narração nos conta das diversas tentativas de suicídio – e a primeira, aos doze anos, nos dá uma noção de que vem de muito cedo sua consciência de deslocamento no mundo.

sganzerla peripheral identity resentment o bandido da luz vermelha
Imagem do filme O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968). Direção Rogério Sganzerla.

A associação que aqui fazemos – a da identidade marginal como símbolo de uma sociedade subdesenvolvida no contexto dos anos de 1960 – não é apresentada com didatismo ao longo do filme, pois não estamos trabalhando com uma obra da linguagem cinematográfica clássica, em que o encadeamento das ações é construído para o fácil entendimento de quem assiste. Também não temos o objetivo de sermos deterministas, ou seja, provar que o bandido é violento porque é fruto de uma sociedade injusta. De forma sintética, tentamos demonstrar como Rogério Sganzerla utiliza a personagem do Bandido da Luz Vermelha para descrever os acontecimentos sociais do Brasil naquele momento histórico, e que os recursos que mobiliza (a música, a caricatura, o deboche, a violência, as influências do cinema popular americano) são para compor a sua crítica de modo impactante e performático, em coerência à prática cinematográfica em que acredita – a do cinema marginal.

Compreendemos que há sentido nesta abordagem de Sganzerla quando lembramos que 1968 é o ano da institucionalização da repressão e da violência do regime militar brasileiro, um cenário de ausência de debates, de políticas públicas sociais e de cerceamento às liberdades de expressão. Na impossibilidade de fazer algo, avacalha-se, diz Rogério Sganzerla em seu manifesto Cinema Fora da Lei[.note]

Na violência do capitalismo periférico, não há espaço para informação, mas há para superstars: durante todo o filme de Sganzerla, o papel dos meios de comunicação é alimentar a aura mítica do Bandido da Luz Vermelha (“um gênio ou uma besta?”,”é o Zorro dos pobres?”), e fazer de cada crime uma história de suspense a ser acompanhada em capítulos. Especialmente neste caso, podemos fazer uma analogia com o papel da mídia brasileira na mesma época, que, com algumas exceções, exaltava Brasil que, em tese, estava em franco desenvolvimento econômico.

E como identificamos a proposta de construção das identidades periféricas em Luz nas Trevas? A começar, o filme de 2010 é realizado em contexto histórico bastante diferente de 1968, mesmo que ainda prevaleça um cenário de espetacularização da violência e severa marginalização econômica de grande parte da população. Tem-se, também, uma compreensão de que os recursos estilísticos do filme de 1968 já não soam revolucionários, uma vez que a estética do deboche, da colagem, da tríade sexo-drogas-rock’n’roll e da típica agressividade juvenil já foi incorporada como formato vendável pelo cinema de massa.

Do ponto de vista da ação política, já citamos que em 1968 havia, por parte do cinema marginal, uma constatação da impossibilidade de agir frente ao cenário opressor; já em 2010, observa-se uma descrença generalizada nos projetos de transformação e, em especial, “nas manifestações de violência (como a do bandido rural e o marginal urbano) enquanto sinais de uma rebeldia pautada por alguma noção de justiça.”5

Por esta compreensão, o Bandido que reaparece em Luz das Trevas, ao contrário do filme de 1968, não traz consigo a pecha do isolamento e da violência como índices do subdesenvolvimento: temos em 2010 a construção de uma personagem preocupada com as consequências do esquecimento da sua imagem, um típico indivíduo do século XXI em busca da espetacularização da própria existência. Observamos, ao contrário do filme de 1968, que a construção deste painel identitário de uma época não se dá por meio do recurso do deboche ou da esculhambação, mas pela conformação do ressentimento.

A constatação do ressentimento como característica comum entre as personagens do cinema brasileiro contemporâneo aparece pela primeira vez em 2001, observada pelo crítico e professor da USP Ismail Xavier. O ressentimento é um conceito de raízes nietzschianas, posteriormente reelaborado pelo filósofo alemão Max Scheler (1874-1928), que o define como “envenenamento pessoal da alma, com causas e consequências bem determinadas”. Para Scheler, o ponto de origem do ressentimento é o impulso da vingança, que por sua vez é antecedido de uma repreensão ou de uma ofensa – ambas vivências materiais da impotência.

Diante da exposição de Scheler, podemos construir um quadro de indícios que ilustra o personagem Bandido da Luz Vermelha, na sua versão 2010, como uma figura ressentida típica periférica do século XXI, cuja indignação se fundamenta não mais pela falta de acesso às riquezas ou ao não pertencimento a determinada classe social, mas sim à auto-imagem – neste caso, à abordagem que a mídia faz sobre sua figura. O fato de não ser devidamente reconhecido, de “não ter voz na TV” , o move para a fuga da prisão e para a tentativa de reconquista do status – o que, veremos, não acontecerá.

Outro ponto em que é possível identificarmos elementos comuns na composição das identidades periféricas é a visão que o indivíduo do século XXI tem de si mesmo: centro do mundo e acima das leis, um espírito contemporâneo que é perfeitamente localizável na figura do Bandido de 2010. Em diversas passagens de Luz das Trevas, o Bandido se declara injustiçado, condenado pelo que não cometeu – sentimento inclusive que transfere ao filho, que declara ser “filho do homem mais injustiçado deste país”, ignorando toda a comprovação da autoria de seus crimes. Há, na sociedade contemporânea, a disseminação de um conceito de justiça no qual o interesse do indivíduo tende a prevalecer sobre o coletivo, reflexo de uma instauração global dos preceitos das políticas neoliberais, conceitualmente excludentes e individualizantes. O Bandido como presidiário não incorpora o debate pelas questões do encarceramento ou justiça criminal, mas a trajetória de um indivíduo e sua vaidade. Mote claro de vingança desde as mais antigas intrigas históricas, essa busca pelo que se compreende como preservação do interesse individual alimenta e conforma, cena após cena, o ressentimento do Bandido do filme de 2010.

red light bandit luz nas trevas helena ignez resentment
O Bandido na cadeia, com um cartaz do filme de 1968. Imagem do filme Luz nas Trevas – A Volta do Bandido da Luz Vermelha (2010). Direção de Helena Ignez e Ícaro C. Martins. Acervo Mercúrio Produções. Utilizado com permissão.

A obsessão pelo ideal da juventude é outro elemento da conformação dessa identidade subdesenvolvida, amplamente ancorado no espírito capitalista atualizado, cuja negação ao ideal de beleza fere ao ego e estimula o impulso de vingança – e, por sua vez, o nascimento do ressentimento. Nas sequências em que o Bandido de 2010 assiste à sua história contada nos telejornais da TV, ou em que lê jornais antigos com sua imagem, o personagem mostra-se bastante inconformado com a “perda” da imagem que o fez célebre – e até grita para a câmera: “Perdi minha juventude na cadeia”.

Na mesma chave da conformação de uma identidade ressentida, percebemos, no personagem de 2010, uma forte ambição movida pela concorrência, e que pode ser lida como uma espécie de emulação do comportamento corporativo típico e que é reproduzido nas escalas individuais neste século. A midiatização dos feitos de seu filho (o criminoso Tudo ou Nada) leva o Bandido da Luz Vermelha a ter despertado o sentimento de concorrência. Antes do filho ganhar fama e ser comparado ao pai em rede nacional, o Bandido comportava-se com um certo grau de resignação – até aceita, por mais de uma vez, confessar crimes que não cometeu, em troca de regalias mundanas. Ismail Xavier identifica como recorrente a transformação da figura marginal em figura ressentida no cinema brasileiro contemporâneo: “agora deslocado (…) o bandido deixa de fazer parte de um movimento rumo à revolta mais consequente, como um proto-revolucionário, e passa a ser visto como alguém contaminado por valores burgueses, cercado de perfume e whisky importado.”6 Logo, tal ambição por manter a ordem da sua imagem e por restaurar a própria história não deriva das centenas de anos de condenação, mas do nascimento de uma imagem concorrente, ainda que tal imagem seja a de seu próprio filho.

Nos dez minutos finais de Luz nas Trevas, assistimos aos acontecimentos subsequentes à fuga do Bandido da Luz Vermelha da penitenciária – motivada fundamentalmente, como já descrevemos, pelo desejo de restaurar a própria imagem midiática. No entanto, concomitante a sua fuga, ocorre a prisão do filho Tudo ou Nada e, portanto, há o término midiático da comparação entre os dois. Não há mais ressentimento quando o objeto causador da vingança já não existe mais, e o Bandido dá por concluído seu acerto, se auto-declarando imortal. Não tarda, porém, para que o Bandido perceba que o mundo de 1968 não é o mesmo que o dos anos 2000, o que de certa forma o fragiliza egoicamente. O retorno ao novo mundo expõe sua relação esquizofrênica com o contexto social do século XXI, o que o leva a assumir uma nova persona: Jorge Prado, combatente da paz. Declara: “O Bandido da Luz Vermelha é coisa do passado, hoje eu sou Luz Divina (…). A vida é uma sucessão de adeuses. Adeus a nós próprios, e adeus aos nossos adeuses”. Helena Ignez compreende que o indivíduo do século XXI, no contexto das sociedades periféricas, é um indivíduo sem perspectivas revolucionárias, desejoso de uma auto-imagem midiática coerente com a sociedade espetacularizada a qual pertence, e expõe sua tese por meio da trajetória deste novo Bandido, para quem a liberdade pesa menos que a própria imagem. Logo, quando se transforma em um missionário da paz, a personagem não almeja a conversão, perdão ou o arrependimento: ela apenas atualiza seus potenciais de midiatização social e espetacularização da própria existência.

Colocadas nossas análises sobre as duas propostas de constituição das identidades nos contextos periféricos – a de Rogério Sganzerla em 1968 e a de Helena Ignez em 2010 – é possível afirmar que, embora haja clara intenção de continuidade da estética do Cinema Marginal em Luz das Trevas, Helena Ignez imputa sua crítica social e política na conformação do ressentimento do personagem do Bandido, enquanto Rogério Sganzerla o faz pela forma fílmica.

O filme de 1968 traz um personagem apresentado quase que por meio de esquetes: poucas falas, uma frenética montagem de imagens, vozes e sons, tudo envolto em um tom de deboche (lembremos: “quando não se pode fazer nada, se avacalha”, diz Sganzerla). O Bandido de Sganzerla pode sintetizar, então, um painel da identidade periférica forjada no contexto do subdesenvolvimento e da ditadura militar dos anos de 1960-1970, com limitações extremas à liberdade de expressão: a forma fílmica denota, por consequência, a impossibilidade do sujeito agir diante do caos e da alienação. Já o painel da identidade periférica do século XXI é construído por Helena Ignez por meio da exposição de situações que, acumuladas, ferem ao ego do Bandido e, em seu máximo, o conforma como uma identidade ressentida – nada revolucionária ou anárquica, mas verborrágica e consciente da própria existência. O filme nos traz a constatação de que o individualismo exacerbado, a busca pela midiatização e espetacularização da vida caracterizam, para Helena Ignez, a identidade pós-moderna; em um contexto periférico, as resistências e impossibilidades impostas pelo estado de subdesenvolvimento condenam tal identidade, portanto, a uma existência ressentida.

De forma sintética, podemos afirmar que os contextos de exclusão, subdesenvolvimento e marginalidade existem em ambos os filmes, e são apontados como problemáticos tanto por Rogério Sganzerla quanto por Helena Ignez. Porém, os métodos de ambos diferem na medida em que a forma fílmica revolucionária de Sganzerla é incorporada à forma do cinema mainstream, não mais impactando suficientemente para se configurar como crítica – Helena mantém a forma fílmica ágil, lúdica e pop, mas incorpora complexidade à existência do Bandido. Em 1968, o personagem era quase lacônico, reativo e deslocado, mas em 2010 torna-se verborrágico, com questões existenciais e vaidades típicas da contemporaneidade. Em 1968, Rogério Sganzerla denunciava, por meio da esculhambação e da revolução da forma fílmica, a incapacidade de agir em meio ao subdesenvolvimento – e a identidade que se forma, neste contexto, é de um indivíduo aleijado dos bens sociais, deslocado, impotente e violento. Em 2010, Helena Ignez aponta que, embora a ausência de acesso aos bens sociais e a violência persistam na sociedade pós-moderna, na composição da identidade periférica do século XXI elas são superadas pela midiatização da existência e pela valorização dos projetos egóicos, gerando um indivíduo que, por nunca conseguir atingir plenamente tal condição de espetacularização, torna-se um ser ressentido.


RAMOS, Fernão. Cinema Marginal (1968/1973): a representação em seu limite. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1987.

________________. Nova história do cinema brasileiro – Volume II. São Paulo: Edições Sesc SP, 2018.

SCHELER, Max. L’homme du ressentiment. Paris: Gallimard, 1970.

________________. Da reviravolta de valores. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Vozes, 2012.

SGANZERLA, Rogério. O Bandido da Luz Vermelha – Roteiro. São Paulo: Imprensa Oficial, 2008.

XAVIER, Ismail. Alegorias do subdesenvolvimento: cinema novo, tropicália, cinema marginal. São Paulo, CosacNaif, 2012.

________________. “Figuras do ressentimento no cinema brasileiro dos
anos 90”
. In Fernão Pessoa Ramos, Maria Dora Mourão, Afrânio Catani & José Gatti. Estudos de Cinema – Socine, 2001. Porto Alegre, Editora Sulina/FAMECOS. pp.79-98.

  1. Alguns exemplos de outros ciclos do cinema brasileiro: Ciclos Regionais – Mineiro, Gaúcho e Paulista (1922 a 1931); a tentativa de Industrialização do Cinema Brasileiro (1947-1959), Cinema Novo (1963-1970) e a Retomada (1992-2003).
  2. Helena Ignez, nascida em 1941 na cidade de Salvador (Bahia, Brasil), iniciou sua carreira cinematográfica em 1958, como atriz e produtora do primeiro curta-metragem do diretor Glauber Rocha, O Pátio (1959,12 min,BRA). A partir desta data, passa a trabalhar como atriz em importantes filmes brasileiros, entre os quais O Padre e a Moça (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1966, 93 min, BRA), trabalho pelo qual ganha menção honrosa no Festival de Cinema de Berlim, e O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (Rogério Sganzerla, 1968, 92 min, BRA). Em 1970, Helena funda a produtora de cinema Belair, ao lado dos cineastas brasileiros Rogério Sganzerla e Júlio Bressane. Em ritmo alucinante, produzem seis filmes em tempo recorde, todos pouco exibidos no circuito comercial. Entre 1973 e 1985, Helena afasta-se da carreira para cuidar das filhas; em 2004, após a morte de Rogério Sganzerla, com quem foi casada durante 35 anos, inicia sua profícua trajetória como diretora de cinema. Helena Ignez até hoje é considerada um dos símbolos da contracultura do cinema brasileiro dos anos 60 e 70.
  3. Embora os realizadores do Cinema Marginal não tenham se reconhecido como movimento, há vasta literatura e documentação organizada que permite à historiografia do cinema classificá-los dessa forma. Para saber mais, indicamos Cinema Marginal 1968-1973: a representação em seu limite (RAMOS, Fernão. Editora Brasiliense, 1987).
  4. Rogério Sganzerla escreveu, durante as filmagens do Bandido da Luz Vermelha, um manifesto chamado Cinema Fora da Lei, em que expressa as bases do seu trabalho. Disponível em
  5. XAVIER, Ismail. Figuras do ressentimento no cinema brasileiro dos anos 90. SOCINE – Estudos de Cinema e Audiovisual,2001.
  6. XAVIER, Ismail. Figuras do ressentimento no cinema brasileiro dos anos 90. SOCINE – Estudos de Cinema e Audiovisual,2001.

The Feminist Movement in Posters, 1975-1979

O levante feminista em cartaz durante os anos 1975-1979

Poster art production during the Brazilian military dictatorship

A produção de cartazes contra a ditadura brasileira

By Guilherme Godoy

De Guilherme Godoy


/ /

Posters are the visual language of political protest. In order to understand what resistance means, researcher Guilherme Godoy proposes that we look at the ways in which struggle has been communicated. In a wide-ranging archival investigation, Godoy studies the production of posters during the Brazilian military dictatorship and finds that many of the most important artists who created these posters were women – and, moreover, that the issues depicted on even anonymous posters engage are quite often feminist topics. When official history places male voices as the protagonists of resistance between 1964-1985, society ignores how women spoke out as often as men. And, fortunately, we have the visual records of the period to prove it.

During the military dictatorship (1964 – 1985), Brazil saw a significant influx in the production of posters, which can be understood as an important instrument for resistance against the ruling regime. These posters were created and printed by politically active artists, the majority of whom did not sign their pieces and worked in hiding. Their anonymity and precarious work conditions reinforce the idea that these posters served as instruments of resistance against the oppressive regime. The posters’ subject matter covered union battles, women’s right to their own bodies, the fight for wage equality, and the struggle for human rights.

It is in this context that posters become fundamental to building an alternative historical narrative: one that recognizes women as active protagonists in both the struggle for human rights and in artistic production that denounced the Brazilian military dictatorship. Feminists in the United States were pioneers in their use of posters in protests, largely as a result of how North American Protestantism (as opposed to Catholicism) incentivized literacy for women. It was these literate, middle class women who would form the nucleus of first-wave feminism in the US.

The majority of Brazilian posters from the dictatorship period, however, are kept in university archives. These posters are often difficult to access for visual and historical research, which makes it challenging to construct alternative, less male-dominated narratives of the past.

It is with the goal of building a more inclusive narrative that we analyze posters from women’s movements produced in Brazil between 1975-1979, the middle of the dictatorial regime. Moreover, the historical context in which these posters appeared proves to be extremely relevant, not only in the realm of art history, but also for efforts to recover the freedom of expression and of the press that was suppressed during this period – censorship that doubly affected the feminist movement.

However, before we begin to develop this analysis, it is important to understand the characteristics that determine what a poster is and how a poster functions. These qualities are what imbue this tool with its inherent capacity to sustain and support social movements. According to Moles, the poster “condenses, in its very materiality, text and image, with the aim of promoting the sale of goods, products, services, or ideas.”1 It is important to remember that the poster acts upon the urban fabric of large city centers, vying for space in an environment hostile to new advertising efforts. Created with the aim of inserting itself in a socio-cultural context that already over-values sight, the poster still manages to consolidate itself as a fundamentally urban means of communication.

The poster, physically fragile in the urban landscape of major cities, has a form of production structured to ensure its existence in this environment that, at first glance, would lead us to doubt its survival as a means of communication – let alone as a historical object. Moreover, its materiality and the structure of its development are responsible for the success of the poster as a tool for political resistance: a platform with an expiration date, committed to structuring text and image in a synthetic manner, the poster becomes an interesting form of publicity.

We can argue that political and ideological propaganda have existed since antiquity because of the simple fact that political disputes require rallying people around a common interest or idea. According to Moles, “posters carry with them the unique specificities of their countries; the history of a nation translates to its posters; there is always political history, quotidian history, economic history in posters.”2

For this essay, we visit four Brazilian archives that have posters from the dictatorship period. From these, we were able to identify two types of posters: 1) those produced by female visual artists (their authorship identified through a signature or visual clues) and 2) those that adopt and communicate feminist discourse. In the latter case, it was not possible to determine if women created the posters due to a lack of indications of authorship (for example, specific visual features or repetition in a series), and because we did not have access to information about how these works were produced.

In order to analyze these posters, it is useful to first analyze the feminist thought that influenced the adoption of feminist activism in Brazil. Specifically, we look towards the suffragist movements of England and the United States, which already had a robust production of posters designed by women as a form of visual support for the discourse that these activists defended.

Women suffragists contributed to a feminist movement of a specifically international character. They created posters for the masses with illustrations that declared the movement’s priorities.

From this starting point, we see that the Brazilian poster production studied here constantly alludes to strength, freedom, and equal rights in its discourse, just as the earlier suffragist posters do. It is very likely that the artists producing feminist posters in Brazil between 1960 and 1970, a period that produced the second major wave of feminism, had access to poster art from the suffragist period, given that the suffragist movement was widely documented (through photographs, political cartoons, posters).

A strong voice in feminist activism, Virgínia Artigas3 was responsible for producing feminist work before the movement of the 1960s and International Women’s Year. As a visual artist, illustrator, and poster artist, she played a central role in building a visual repertoire that would influence Brazilian feminism. Virgínia and her artistic production were responsible for making woodblock prints popular long before posters were created for International Women’s Year in 1975.

Virgínia Artigas’s participation as an activist in social movements, as well as her artistic production in the years leading up to International Women’s Year, provide signals that her imagery was influential in building a visual repertoire that would influence feminism in Brazil. Virgínia worked extensively on book, magazine, and newspaper illustrations. Highlights include her works in the magazine Fundamentos. She also participated in feminist activism both in Brazil and internationally. From 1941 – 1945 Virgínia’s work was shown in fifteen different exhibitions, the majority of which were in the United Kingdom.4

virginia artigas woodblock print
Woodblock print by Virgínia Artigas. Date and title unknown. Source: Used with permission.
virginia artigas poster down with famine
Abaixo a carestia (Down with Famine), 1953. Illustration by Virgínia Artigas. Source: Used with permission.
virginia artigas poster feminism a ilha illustration
Illustration by Virgínia Artigas for the book A Ilha by Rolando Roque da Silva, 1957. Source: Used with permission.

As we can see, Virgínia Artigas’s illustrations and visual interventions represent activism from a feminist perspective, usually by placing a woman as the protagonist of the visual material.

Thematic elements like motherhood, women’s struggles against high prices, and the female body as symbol for the core of society shed light not only on Virgínia’s activism, but also on her role as a woman. We can hypothesize that perhaps this is why Virgínia Artigas would later be invited to produce a series of posters for International Women’s Year5 – though we have found no evidence that directly corroborates this idea.

Today, access to Virgínia Artigas’s artistic production is still limited to the family’s historical archive, which is managed by Virgínia’s daughter, Rosa Artigas. Rosa is working to develop a website with Virgínia’s personal and visual history, organized both chronologically and ichnographically. More in-depth research on Virgínia Artigas is necessary to understand modernist art in São Paulo as well as to make the research on artists that opposed the Brazilian dictatorial regime more diverse.

Given the level of exposure Virgínia received from the poster series she produced for International Women’s Year, we can understand how the visibility of Virgínia’s works influenced the language of other artists from the same period. The internationalization of the feminist movements led posters produced in Brazil – included those that Virgínia Artigas developed – to circulate throughout the world.6

poster virginia artigas 1975
Poster for International Women’s Year, 1975. Virgínia Artigas. Source: Os cartazes dessa história, p.134. Source: Centro de Documentação e Memória da UNESP-CEDEM. Used with permission.
virgina artigas poster international women's year
Poster for International Women’s Year, 1975. Virgínia Artigas. Source: Os cartazes dessa história, p.134. Source: Centro de Documentação e Memória da UNESP-CEDEM. Used with permission.

The UN declaration that defined 1975 as International Women’s Year was a key factor in the rise of feminist discourse in Brazil and, most likely, played a significant role in the increased representation of female figures and support for women artists and designers. During this period, posters were marked by their opposition to the dictatorial regime as well as demands for equal wages and the right to unionize.

Also in 1975, works by graphic artists other than Virgínia Artigas gained space, both in terms of publishing and exhibitions. Also motivated by International Women’s Year, the Brazilian postal service commissioned visual artist Martha Poppe7 to produce a stamp to commemorate the date.

martha poppe poster stamp international women's year 1975
Stamp commemorating International Women’s Year, 1975. Martha Poppe. Source: Used with permission.

In 1979, for example, the São Paulo metalworkers’ union called for São Paulo’s first Women’s Metalworker Conference with a poster that highlighted the importance of working women and their union participation. In addition to producing that poster, the Metalworker’s Women’s Committee developed an illustrated booklet that showed the importance of unionizing women and, more importantly, engaged issues directly related to the labor of women, including work conditions in São Paulo factories.8

Another event that took place in 1979, the Meeting to Diagnose the Paulista Woman, was also publicized and promoted through poster art. The poster calls for women to come together at the plenarinho, the nickname for the children’s area in the São Paulo City Hall. Even though research groups had been studying feminist issues for some time, the event required authorization from the Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS)9 in order to be carried out – according to that agency, such an event questioned standards for the family and femininity, conflicting with the regime’s ideology.

In both cases, discussing gender goes hand in hand with a sense of group belonging. Both are determining factors in the graphic composition of the works.

Motivated by the international network of groups tied to feminist struggles, the Center for the Brazilian Woman promoted the first meeting of the National Women’s Congress, which took place on March 8 – 11, 1979.

The Center for the Brazilian Woman sought to interact with a larger community of women in an effort to promote gender consciousness across socio-economic classes:

The Center for the Brazilian Woman was founded on September 8, 1975, during the state of exception that was the military dictatorship. It was one of many movements born in this authoritarian context, but its goal was unique: to reflect on the condition of women in society. In this way, and not without controversy, the Marxist and Maoist theories that permeated debates were combined with feminist issues.10

Participation of women in movements that challenged the state of exception occurred in a period without freedom – one that, consequently, lacked public debates about equality for women. Even though the birth control pill grew popular in the 1960s, which was a concrete achievement in feminist struggles, the movement continued to demand the full right to the body. This is one of the recurrent themes in the archival posters studied here.

The construction of mechanisms for resistance in the form of visual, artistic representation (that is, through poster art) was a fundamental aspect of the struggle for women’s freedom, particularly within groups opposed to the dictatorial regime. Investigating this graphic material produced by female artists helps us understand the active participation of women in narratives of resistance. This research can produce a historical counter-narrative to the version of events established from a white, elite, male perspective.

This research, then, helps us affirm that the participation of feminists in the posters of dictatorship resistance also added issues to the debates that circulated during the state of exception: not only did the posters produced by women fight for the end of the dictatorship, but they also argued with equal fervor for the right to the body, the right to equal pay, not to mention the call for human rights centers made up of and organized by women. Researching this material challenges the historical frame that always places women as supporting actors. The contribution of women was equal if not greater than that of men in resisting the dictatorship and its oppression.

The production of posters rallied opposition to the dictatorship in Brazil, and the feminist front – the same one that used graphic tools in their struggle – continued to organize after the end of the dictatorial regime. Today, for example, feminist groups have positioned themselves against the ascension of the far right in Brazil. Once again, women are leaders in a massive outcry against the current president of Brazil, Jair Messias Bolsonaro. The paradigmatic example of this movement’s huge scale was the #elenão protest, which, according to the researcher Célia Regina Jardim Pinto, constituted the biggest feminist march in Brazil’s history.11

posters #elenão
Posters from the contemporary #elenão movement.

An incredible number of posters continues to be produced, especially after the 2016 parliamentary coup. The participation of women in the struggle for human rights grows and increasingly incorporates the demands of black, indigenous, and transgender women to the stuggles historically included in feminist debates, such as wage disparities and right to the body. And, once again, visual artists take a stand through artistic expression to defend their ideology and to denounce oppression.


ALVES, Branca Moreira; PITANGUY, Jaqueline. O que é feminismo. São Paulo: Ed. Brasiliense, 1991.

LE GOFF, Jacques. História e Memória. Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP, 1990.

GARCIA, Carla. Breve história do feminismo. São Paulo: Ed. Claridade,2015.

MOLES, Abraham A. O Cartaz. São Paulo: Editora Perspectiva, 2004.

SACCHETTA, V. (org.). Os cartazes desta história: memória gráfica da resistência à ditadura e da redemocratização. São Paulo: Instituto Vladimir Herzog e Escrituras Editora, 2012.

  1. (1987, p. 175)
  2. (1987, p. 36)
  3. “Virgínia Camargo Artigas (São Carlos, SP, 1915 – São Paulo, SP 1990). Painter, printmaker, sculptor, illustrator, and poster-maker. Artigas studied drawing under Antonio Rocco in 1937 and 1938. In that same year, she frequented free classes at the São Paulo School of Fine Arts, where she met Bonadei, Alredo Volpi, Clóvis Graciano, Mário Zanini, Francisco Rebolo, and the architect Vilanova Artigas, whom she then married. In the 1940s, she frequented the Santa Helena Group ateliês and participated in exhibitions organized by the Visual Artists’ Union. The following year, she studied sculpture in Bruno Giorgi’s ateliê and, three years later, carried out her first solo show at the Brasiliense Library […] Her exhibition about torture was exhibited throughout Europe, but it was never shown in Brazil” (From Itaú Cultural Encyclopedia:
  5. Sacchetta (2012, p. 134) cites Virgínia Artigas’s direct participation in the production of posters for International Women’s Year.
  6. Even though it is not possible to discuss socialist realist art in Brazil, it is possible to recall artists and works that clearly embraced socialist ideals in both form and content. For example, we can note some works by Carlos Scliar (1920 – 2001), Mário Gruber (1927-2011), Abelardo da Hora (1924-2014), Candido Portinari (1903-1962), Renina Katz (1925) e Virgínia Artigas (1915-1990)”. (From Itau Cultural Encyclopedia:
  7. Martha Cavalcanti Poppe was born in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Her biography indicates that her family, originally from the state of Pernambuco, moved to Rio de Janeiro in search of economic opportunity. Art was always a part of Martha’s life: she was trained in classical ballet and, at eight years old, began to learn to paint under the guidance of expressionist Georgina Albuquerque. Drawing was her passion through age 17 and, after completing her secondary education, she chose to study painting at the School of Fine Arts. She began working for the postal service in 1962 as an artist for the engineering sector and, after the stamp-collecting department was created ten years later, she began to work as a visual artist with a diverse artistic production. Martha Poppe developed murals, stamps, and other works important to the history of the Postal and Telegraphic Services Company (ECT).
  9. The Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS) was an agency of the Brazilian government during the military dictatorship established in 1964. Its purpose was to silence and repress political and social movements that opposed the regime.
  10. (Marques and Zattoni 2014, p.61)
  11. For more information, see:

Durante a vigência da ditadura militar no Brasil (1964 a 1985), houve uma intensa produção de cartazes que pode ser considerada um importante instrumento de resistência ao regime vigente. Tais cartazes eram criados e impressos por artistas militantes, na maioria anônimos, que trabalhavam em condições precárias e clandestinas, reforçando o discurso do uso do cartaz como instrumento de resistência ao regime opressor. Dentre os temas recorrentes nesses cartazes estavam as lutas sindicais, a luta das mulheres pela liberdade do próprio corpo, a busca pela equidade salarial e luta pelos direitos humanos.

É sob esta perspectiva que os cartazes tornaram-se peças fundamentais na construção de uma outra narrativa histórica: aquela que reconhece as mulheres como protagonistas ativas tanto no campo da luta pelos direitos humanos quanto na produção artística contrária à ditadura brasileira. As feministas nos Estados Unidos da América foram as pioneiras no uso de cartazes em manifestações, muito em função do fato do protestantismo norte-americano, ao contrário do catolicismo, incentivar a alfabetização das mulheres, desenvolvendo uma classe média de mulheres alfabetizadas que viriam a formar o primeiro núcleo do feminismo no EUA.

No entanto, grande parte dos cartazes brasileiros do período da ditadura estão em centros de documentação pertencentes a universidades e, não raro, em condições que dificultam o acesso e o desenvolvimento de pesquisas históricas e visuais – dificultando, portanto, a construção destas outras narrativas menos androcêntricas.

É no sentido de contribuir com uma narrativa mais inclusiva que analisamos os cartazes dos movimentos femininos produzidos no Brasil no período de 1975 a 1979, o auge do regime militar. Além disso, o contexto histórico no qual os cartazes investigados estão inseridos ilustra um período de alta relevância, não somente pela produção artística, mas por uma necessidade de reconhecermos, historicamente, as tentativas de recuperar a então coibida liberdade de expressão e de imprensa – que atingia duplamente o movimento feminino.

Porém, antes de começarmos a expor esta análise, é importante entendermos como as características que definem o que é um cartaz e qual é a sua função atribuem a este instrumento uma capacidade natural de sustentar e apoiar movimentos sociais. Segundo Moles, o cartaz “condensa, em sua base material, texto e imagem, com a finalidade de promover a venda de um bem, produto, serviço ou ideia”.1 Torna-se importante lembrar que o cartaz é um agente da paisagem urbana dos grandes centros, disputando lugar em um ambiente hostil às novas investidas publicitárias. Por ter nascido já destinado a um meio sociocultural que supervaloriza o que se vê, o cartaz ainda consegue se consolidar como um meio de comunicação fundamentalmente urbano.

O cartaz, com sua materialidade frágil perante a paisagem urbana dos grandes centros, fez com que sua forma de construção fosse estruturada para sobreviver ao ambiente que, em um primeiro olhar, nos faz acreditar na sua não sobrevivência como veículo de comunicação – e muito menos como uma peça histórica. Esta materialidade e estrutura de desenvolvimento também são as responsáveis pelo sucesso do cartaz como instrumento de luta política: como uma plataforma com prazo de validade comprometida a estruturar texto e imagem de maneira sintética, o cartaz se transforma em uma interessante forma de publicidade.

Pode-se afirmar, então, que a propaganda política e ideológica existe desde a antiguidade, simplesmente pelo motivo de que disputas políticas carregam consigo a necessidade de agregar pessoas em torno de um interesse ou ideia em comum. Segundo Moles, “os cartazes carregam particularidades específicas de seus países; a história de um país se traduz em seus cartazes; sempre há história política, história cotidiana, história econômica nos cartazes”.2

Para compor esta pesquisa, acessamos quatro centros de documentação brasileiros que possuíam cartazes do período da ditadura em seus acervos. A partir disso, pudemos dividir os cartazes em dois tipos: 1) os produzidos por artistas visuais mulheres (quando identificados por assinatura ou traço autoral) e 2) os que adotam e dão publicidade ao discurso feminista – neste segundo tipo, não foi possível identificar a criação como sendo de artistas mulheres, tanto pela ausência de qualquer indício comprobatório de autoria (traço ou repetição em série, por exemplo) quanto por não termos acesso às informações sobre a produção.

Para analisar os cartazes, tornou-se necessária a compreensão dos pensamentos feministas que influenciaram a ação feminista adotada no Brasil, em especial o movimento sufragista dos Estados Unidos e da Inglaterra, que já contava com uma forte produção de cartazes desenvolvida por mulheres como forma de apoio à visualização do discurso defendido pelas manifestantes.

As mulheres do movimento sufragista contribuíram para construção de um movimento feminista internacionalista e foram responsáveis pela popularização dos cartazes com ilustração e declaração das prioridades do movimento.

A partir desse histórico, percebe-se que a produção nacional dos cartazes do período aqui estudado faz alusão contínua a esse discurso de força, liberdade e igualdade de direitos, assim como os cartazes sufragistas. É muito possível que esse histórico tenha sido acessado pelas autoras e autores que produziram os cartazes feministas nacionais entre os anos de 1960 e 1970, uma vez que, além de ser reconhecido historicamente como a segunda grande onda do movimento feminista, o movimento sufragista tem grande quantidade de registros visuais (fotos, charges, cartazes) organizados.

Forte expoente dentro da militância feminista – e responsável, inclusive, por produções feministas anteriores ao movimento feminista dos anos 60 e ao Ano Internacional da Mulher – Virgínia Artigas,3 artista visual, ilustradora e cartazista, foi personagem fundamental para a construção de um repertório visual para o universo feminista brasileiro. Virgínia e sua produção foram responsáveis por popularizar diversas ilustrações em xilografia, muito antes da produção do cartaz para o Ano Internacional da Mulher, em 1975.

A participação como militante de movimentos sociais e a produção visual de Virgínia Artigas trazem indícios que a sua linguagem visual, especificamente nos anos anteriores ao Ano Internacional da Mulher, pode ter sido fundamental para a construção de um repertório visual influenciador do universo feminino nacional. Virgínia trabalhou intensamente em ilustrações para livros, jornais e revistas, com destaque para revista Fundamentos, além de participar de movimentos feministas no Brasil e no exterior. Entre os anos de 1941 e 1945 Virgínia teve suas obras expostas em 15 diferentes exposições, a maior parte delas, no Reino Unido.4

virginia artigas woodblock print
Xilogravura de Virgínia Artigas. Sem data localizada e sem título localizado.
Fonte: Utilizado com permissão.
virginia artigas poster down with famine
Ilustração Abaixo a carestia, de Virgínia Artigas, 1953.
Fonte: Utilizado com permissão.
virginia artigas poster feminism a ilha illustration
Ilustração de Virgínia Artigas para o Livro A Ilha, de Rolando Roque da Silva,1957.
Fonte: Utilizado com permissão.

Como pode-se observar, as ilustrações e intervenções visuais de Virgínia Artigas apresentam a militância pela ótica do feminismo, principalmente por colocarem a figura da mulher como personagem central em suas produções.

Elementos temáticos como a maternidade, luta das mulheres contra a alta dos preços e a personificação do corpo feminino como engrenagem fundamental e central da sociedade traziam luz não somente à militância política de Virgínia, mas também a sua condição de mulher. No campo das hipóteses, talvez tenham sido estes os motivos que fizeram Virgínia Artigas ser convidada para produzir uma série de cartazes do Ano Internacional da Mulher5porém, não localizamos informações que possam afirmar isso.

Ainda nos dias de hoje, o acesso à produção artística de Virgínia Artigas resume-se ao acervo histórico da família em poder de sua filha Rosa Artigas, que vem tentando organizar cronologicamente e iconograficamente a história visual e pessoal de Virgínia por meio de um website. Uma pesquisa mais avançada sobre Virgínia Artigas seria fundamental para o entendimento da produção modernista paulista, assim como para a pluralidade investigativa de artistas contrários ao regime ditatorial brasileiro.

Sendo assim, é possível acreditar que a visibilidade do trabalho Virgínia tenha influenciado a linguagem das artistas visuais deste período, em função do nível de exposição alcançados por essa série de cartazes do Ano Internacional da Mulher. A internacionalização do movimento feminista levaram os cartazes produzidos no Brasil, incluindo os de Virgínia Artigas, a circularem por todo mundo.6

poster virginia artigas 1975
Cartaz do Ano Internacional da Mulher, de Virgínia Artigas.1975.
Fonte: Os cartazes dessa história, p.134.; Centro de Documentração e Memória da UNESP-CEDEM. Utilizado com permissão.
virgina artigas poster international women's year
Cartaz do Ano Internacional da Mulher, de Virgínia Artigas.1975.
Fonte: Os cartazes dessa história, p.134; Centro de Documentração e Memória da UNESP-CEDEM. Utilizado com permissão.

O decreto da ONU que definiu o ano de 1975 como o Ano Internacional da Mulher foi fator responsável pela ascensão do discurso feminista no Brasil e, provavelmente, responsável pela ampliação da representação da figura feminina, assim como para a promoção de artistas e designers mulheres. Neste período, as reivindicações que estamparam os cartazes feministas faziam oposição ao regime ditatorial e pregavam o direito à igualdade de salários e o direito à organização sindical.

Ainda no ano de 1975, além de Virgínia Artigas, outras obras de artistas gráficas ganharam espaço em termos de publicação e exposição de materiais produzidos. Também impulsionado pelo Ano Internacional da Mulher, os Correios encomendaram à artista visual Martha Poppe7 a produção de um selo nacional comemorativo da data.

martha poppe poster stamp international women's year 1975
Selo comemorativo ao Ano Internacional da Mulher, de Martha Poppe.1975.
Fonte: Utilizado com permissão.

No ano de 1979, por exemplo, o sindicato dos metalúrgicos de São Paulo convocou o primeiro Congresso da Mulher Metalúrgica de São Paulo, com um cartaz que ilustrava a importância da participação sindical das mulheres trabalhadoras. Além da produção do cartaz, o Comitê Feminino do Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos desenvolveu uma cartilha ilustrada, cujo conteúdo abordava a importância da sindicalização das trabalhadoras, bem como questões que envolviam diretamente a mão de obra feminina, o bem estar e a qualidade de trabalho dentro das fábricas em São Paulo.8

Ainda no ano de 1979, acontece o Encontro para o Diagnóstico da Mulher Paulista, ação que também ganhou sua publicação e promoção em cartaz. A chamada do cartaz convoca as mulheres para o “plenarinho”, nome dado para área destinada às crianças dentro da Câmara Municipal de São Paulo. Esse evento, ainda que já existissem grupos de reflexão e estudos sobre a situação da mulher há algum tempo, precisou da autorização do DOPS9 para ser realizado – segundo o Departamento, o evento questionava os padrões de família e de feminilidade, colidindo com a ideologia disseminada pelo regime.

Em ambos os casos, a menção ao universo individual feminino concomitante ao destaque ao sentimento de pertencimento de grupo são fatores que determinaram a composição gráfica das peças.

Em 1979, impulsionadas pela rede internacional construída pelos grupos solidários à luta feminista, o Centro da Mulher Brasileira promoveu o primeiro Encontro Nacional de Mulheres, com data de 8,9,10 e 11 de março do ano de 1979. O Centro da Mulher Brasileira buscava interagir com a comunidade feminina na tentativa de promover a tomada de consciência das mulheres de todas as classes. Sobre o Centro da Mulher Brasileira:

O Centro da Mulher Brasileira foi fundado em 8 de setembro de 1975, em pleno regime de exceção militar. Foi mais um movimento que nasceu no ambiente de autoritarismo, mas que tinha um objetivo definido: refletir sobre a condição da mulher na sociedade. Assim, as teorias marxistas ou maoístas presentes que permeavam as discussões eram mescladas, não sem polêmicas, a questões de cunho feminista.10

A participação feminina nos movimentos questionadores do período de exceção foi construída em um contexto de ausência de liberdade, e consequentemente, de ausência de debates sobre as questões de igualdade jurídica das mulheres. Mesmo com a popularização da pílula anticoncepcional a partir dos anos de 1960, um avanço concreto da luta feminista, o movimento ainda reivindicava direito total ao próprio corpo, por isso esse é um dos temas recorrentes que aparecem nos cartazes localizados nos acervos aqui acessados.

A construção de mecanismos de luta no formato de representação visual artística (ou seja, por meio de cartazes) foi parte fundamental da luta pela liberdade feminina, especialmente nos grupos contrários ao regime ditatorial. Investigar este material gráfico produzido por artistas visuais mulheres ajuda a compreender a participação efetiva das mulheres nas narrativas de resistência, especialmente como novas formas de investigação que podem contrariar o discurso histórico administrado pela visão masculina, elitista e branca.

Sendo assim, isso ajuda a afirmar também que a participação das feministas na construção de cartazes contra a ditadura adicionaram pautas ao debate neste período de exceção: os cartazes produzidos por mulheres lutavam pelo fim do regime, mas também mantiveram em igual intensidade pautas como o direito ao próprio corpo, a luta por equidade de salários e também a articulação de núcleos a favor dos direitos humanos compostos por mulheres e articulados por mulheres. Investigar estes materiais ajuda a contrapor também a versão histórica que sempre atribui o papel coadjuvante à mulher: a contribuição das mulheres foi de igual intensidade, e por vezes até maior, na luta contra a ditadura e as opressões.

A produção destes cartazes contribuiu para a propaganda agitadora contrária à ditadura no Brasil, e a frente feminista, aquela mesma que usou de artifícios gráficos para a luta por suas pautas, continuou articulando-se após o fim do regime ditatorial. Nos dias atuais, por exemplo, as frentes feministas se posicionam contrárias à ascensão da extrema direita brasileira, e novamente as mulheres lideraram um levante viral contrárias ao atual presidente da República, Jair Messias Bolsonaro. O expoente máximo dessa manifestação foi o movimento #elenão, que segundo pesquisadora Céli Regina Jardim Pinto foi a maior manifestação feminista já realizada no Brasil.11

posters #elenão
Cartazes do movimento #elenão.

Uma infinidade de cartazes continuam a ser produzidos, em especial desde o momento do golpe institucional de 2016, enaltecendo a participação das mulheres na luta pelos direitos humanos, cada vez mais incluindo as pautas do feminismo negro, indígena e transgênero, além das pautas já tradicionais contra a desigualdade salarial entre os gêneros e ao direito ao próprio corpo. E mais uma vez o/a artista visual sai do centro da manifestação artística em prol da defesa de uma concepção ideológica e anti-opressão.


ALVES, Branca Moreira; PITANGUY, Jaqueline. O que é feminismo. São Paulo: Ed. Brasiliense, 1991.

LE GOFF, Jacques. História e Memória. Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP, 1990.

GARCIA, Carla. Breve história do feminismo. São Paulo: Ed. Claridade,2015.

MOLES, Abraham A. O Cartaz. São Paulo: Editora Perspectiva, 2004.

SACCHETTA, V. (org.). Os cartazes desta história: memória gráfica da resistência à ditadura e da redemocratização. São Paulo: Instituto Vladimir Herzog e Escrituras Editora, 2012.

  1. (1987, p.175)
  2. (1987, p.36)
  3. Virginia Camargo Artigas (São Carlos SP 1915 – São Paulo SP 1990). Pintora, gravadora, escultora, desenhista, ilustradora e cartazista. Estuda desenho sob orientação de Antonio Rocco entre 1937 e 1938. Neste mesmo ano, frequenta o curso livre na Escola de Belas Artes de São Paulo, onde entra em contato com Bonadei, Alfredo Volpi, Clóvis Graciano, Mário Zanini, Francisco Rebolo e o arquiteto Vilanova Artigas, com quem se casa. Em meados de 1940, frequenta os ateliês do Grupo Santa Helena, e participa das exposições organizadas pelo Sindicato dos Artistas Plásticos. No ano seguinte, estuda escultura no ateliê de Bruno Giorgi e três anos depois, realiza sua primeira mostra individual na Livraria Brasiliense (…). Sua exposição sobre tortura percorre toda a Europa, mas nunca é exposta no Brasil. (Fonte: Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural).
  4. Cf: Acesso em 03/06/2017 às 13h45min.
  5. Sacchetta (2012, p. 134)cita participação direta de Virgínia Artigas na produção dos cartazes do ano internacional da mulher.
  6. “No Brasil, ainda que não se possa falar numa arte realista socialista, é possível lembrar artistas e obras que mais claramente abraçaram os ideais socialistas, na forma e conteúdo. Por exemplo, alguns trabalhos de Carlos Scliar (1920-2001), Mário Gruber (1927-2011), Abelardo da Hora (1924-2014), Candido Portinari (1903-1962), Renina Katz (1925) e Virgínia Artigas (1915-1990)“. (Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural de Arte e Cultura Brasileiras. Cf. Acesso em 03/06/17 às 14h58min.
  7. Martha Cavalcanti Poppe nasceu no Rio de Janeiro, capital. Em sua história, relata que sua família, originária de Pernambuco, mudou-se para o Rio de Janeiro para tentar uma nova vida. As artes sempre fizeram parte da existência de Martha: dançou balé clássico por muitos anos e, aos oito anos de idade, começou a aprender a pintar com a pintora expressionista Georgina Albuquerque. O desenho sempre foi sua grande paixão e aos 17 anos, após concluir seus estudos, resolveu estudar pintura na escola Belas Artes. Entrou nos Correios em 1962 como desenhista do setor de engenharia e 10 anos depois, com a criação do departamento de filatelia, Martha passa a trabalhar como artista plástica realizando os mais diversos trabalhos. Entre murais, painéis, selos e muitos outros trabalhos a história da ECT (Empresa de Correios e Telégrafos) é permeada pela beleza da arte de Martha Poppe. Cf. Acessado em 20/05/17, às 14h03min.

  8. Cf. Acesso em 21/05/2017 às 16h41min.
  9. O Departamento de Ordem Política e Social (DOPS) foi o órgão do governo brasileiro, utilizado durante a Ditadura Militar de 1964, cujo objetivo era censurar e reprimir movimentos políticos e sociais contrários ao regime.
  10. (Marques and Zattoni 2014, p.61)

Trans R-Existence in Brazil

R-Existência Trans no Brasil

By Academia TransLiterária

De Academia TransLiterária


/ /

What did it mean to identify as LGBTQ+, Trans or Travesti during the military dictatorship in Brazil? What does it mean to embrace these identities now, years later, when the legacy of the dictatorship is, arguably, stronger than ever? In this gender-diverse collection of prose, poetry, song and script, Academia TransLiterária shows us that “dictatorship” is very much a living term for Brazil’s LGBTQ+ community, a historical marker that doesn’t stay confined to a single period. This burgeoning collective of artists, open to the T population and its allies, has found a way to “make everyday / Resistance / [their] Existence,” calling attention to the inadequacy of binary aesthetics and the need to empower bodies to tell rather than be told. Their stories become increasingly complex in translation, where different languages (Portuguese and English, in this case) are limited by their own inherent gender structures. Here, writing itself becomes an act of resistance.  

–Daneil Persia and Lara Norgaard, translators.


Trans and Travesti during the Military Dictatorship (2017). By Luci Universo. Digital Collage.

In Conversation with Sônia Sissy Kelly: A Travesti During the Military Dictatorship

By Marta Neves

In April 2019, Sônia will turn 63, far older than the typical lifespan for travestis in Brazil, which is 35 years old. She is an LGBTQ activist with a specific focus on issues of life expectancy and populations living in a state of homelessness. Sissy Kelly currently lives in the Carolina Maria de Jesus Occupation in Belo Horizonte and is a reference for Academia TransLiterária. Marta Neves, a member of the literary collective, carried out the interview.

We were persecuted by the police, who should have protected us…”

Marta: How did the military dictatorship affect your life?

Sônia: It affected me by taking away my right to be the person I wanted to be. Under the military dictatorship, we didn’t have the right to express our sexuality or gender. The police persecuted us. They should have protected us, and yet they were the ones who committed the most violence against us and who most violated our rights. The military dictatorship is a huge factor in mental illness for LGBT people. It also is a reason why the LGBT population doesn’t stay in school…It deeply affected the community.

“…we are living in a sort of dictatorship…”

Marta: What do you think the life would be like for travestis if Brazil had continued as a democracy rather than going through twenty years of dictatorship? And, during the period of redemocratization, what changed and how did things improve?

Sônia: If we hadn’t had the dictatorship, I think we would have been freer. I believe that families would have supported their LGBT children more often and I also think that religion would have been more accepting, and schools, too, would have been more accepting…But it wouldn’t have been enough to simply not have suffered a dictatorship. It would have been necessary to fight against all of the existing prejudices. I believe that racism also contributed a lot to discrimination against LGBT people… I believe that, by the end of the military dictatorship, we’d actually achieved a lot of things. Sometimes, we focus on what was bad… but we gained strength, we gained our lugar de fala,1 we gained voice, we created social movements, we got organized. Today, we have visibility. There are political parties that support us… When people, especially teens, talk about gender and sexuality today, they already enter that conversation with an understanding of their own gender and sexuality – which didn’t happen during the military dictatorship. And so this is where we are now: we still have a lot to achieve, but I think we are on the right track. And now there’s this regression, we are living in a sort of dictatorship, and that’s already caused harm, we’ve lost so many affirmative action protections. Now, in this moment of struggle against this fascist government, what we need to do is join together, to be united in our struggle so that we do not regress more than we already have. I believe in health, in education, and in the criminalization of hate speech against the LGBT community. We had so much hope, you know? That we were moving forward, and then it stopped. . . we don’t know what happened or why. I’m a bit disillusioned. I was so happy, and now I’m disillusioned.

trans sonia sissy kelly
Sônia Sissy Kelly, travesti activist.

“…during the military dictatorship, social movements got stronger…”

Marta: Do you think that the sudden swing to the right in current politics shares any similarities with the military dictatorship?

Sônia: There are a lot of similarities… during the military dictatorship, social movements grew stronger. Every time you have a setback, every time there’s a loss, social movements lift themselves up, struggle, and leave stronger. And right now we are living a moment that is considerably similar to that of the military dictatorship. We have regressed so much, in every way, but we also have social movements with women, LGBT people, black people, elderly people, everybody is fighting and no one will silence us, see? So I believe that yes, everything happens for a reason, and we will leave this very challenging moment stronger than we did after the dictatorship. We will make it through because we believe in our struggle, in the Brazilian people… I think we will have four years of this, because I don’t want what happened to Dilma to happen to our president now. He won the election, so he will govern for his four years but he does not have any chance of being elected again by the Brazilian people. We are not stupid enough to elect a candidate like him twice. So, yes, I think we are using this difficult moment to strengthen ourselves.

Marta: So you don’t think that an impeachment would be a good thing?

Sônia: If an impeachment happens, I think it would be good as long as it doesn’t happen the way it did with Dilma. There needs to be a just, true reason. There’s certainly plenty of those, right? Plenty of just cause to impeach this president. . .

Marta: The problem is that a general would then assume the presidency…

Sônia: Exactly! If there is to be an impeachment, we need to see what would be good and what could be even worse. What has the president done for Brazilians other than spew nonsense? We live in a very hypocritical country…

 “I got sick.”

Marta: At the end of last year, especially after the second round of the presidential elections, I felt a kind of despair. There was a heavy psychological weight in the LGBT world, a kind of horror, a kind of sickness…

Sônia: I got sick.

Marta: You did?

Sônia: Yes. And now I am healing myself.

Marta: How do you feel now? Are you afraid? How is your mental state? I know that you have faith in social movements, and I think that’s what sustains us, but I’d like you to speak more about those feelings.

Sônia: The fear has passed. Looking back, it’s the same fear that I felt during the military dictatorship, the fear I’ve never stopped feeling. Our rights were limited during the military dictatorship and, today, we are being limited in the way we express ourselves. But some victories, like being able to wear female clothing, to express our political bodies wherever we go, are things that the government will not take away from us now, in this moment. So the worst of it has already passed. As hard as it is, what we need to do today is celebrate our lives, because nothing will stop us. Not even a fascist government will defeat us because today we are conscious about what we need and we have people who listen to us. So I’m no longer afraid. I was afraid until the precise moment that he was elected present. From that moment on, I didn’t have any more time to be afraid of death. I had to roll up my sleeves and face this administration. And I’m not the only one. We’re all part of this struggle.


Poetess of Acceptance

by Pitty Negreiros 

My sixth sense never fails me
When I hated wanting to be normal
the Cistem that created me
If it’s a disease you haven’t cured me
How can you cure what’s not even ill?
The struggle, it’s to be happy again
What’s right is to be part of my show
Regardless, love is shelter
the strongest drug I ever used
just respect my bathroom!
Change the world for good, accept my gender, love—this is the burden of the heart!

Demythologizing the Being

by Rodrigo Carizu

A scrape. I am scraped.
Scrape of a line that’s not at all torta, but entirely torta.
Torta2 like pie, lemon pie. Sour like me. Sweet when I’m happy.
Scribbled like line-shaped clouds formed by airplanes in the sky. Indefinite color of a crayon.
In the scrape of my body, in the wax of my body, in the crayon of my arm, in the color of my eyes, in the taste of my mouth, in the bittersweet of sex, of my naked lips. In the scrape of my body I discovered the sky. That airplane line scrawling the sky is my body scribbling on paper. It’s my body scribbling clothes, haircuts, schools, mouths, classes, bars, jobs, art, music, dance, it’s my body scribbling gazes at me, the perverse and the good, it’s my body scribbling gazes. It’s my body scribbling new ways of seeing.
When I was a little girl, they said I was “torta,” it was true, I was “entirely torta,” not one bit even, I couldn’t be. They called my lemon pie apple pie. Not even close, I wasn’t that sweet. Today I’m half apple half lemon half crayon of a nameless color. I said: “I’m not torta, I’m torto!”3 Everything was resolved!
I am the uneven scrape of a beautiful pie!
I am a crayon.
I am the scrape of life. I am the Being.

The Invisibility Cloak

by Brisa Alkimin

I became a completely invisible being. An invisible object. An invisible thing.
Something invisible.
Before, the Invisibility cloak tried to cover me completely, but I would twist and turn and sneak out the edges, you know? I would keep my arms open, stretched out, taut, so that the cloak didn’t leave me completely invisible. But that doesn’t work anymore.
Before, it was hard to get a date, for example. I was always left out. But if I stretched my arms one way or another, if I persisted a little here or there, I could make it work.
I always spoke of solitude. But now that the cloak covers me completely, the taste is even bitterer, more and more bitter. Bitter. Bitter, bitter even; I began to wonder if that was just my taste. If I was a fruit with a sweet start but a bitter finish, rotten, bad, almost unbearable. If before I was the last fruit to leave the bowl, today I rot in the bowl. And yet, I wait. Who knows if I’ll be good for juice, a vitamin, a salad.
An effort. I exert. Before the cloak covered me completely, I knew that pale fruits, fruits with beautiful curled or smooth spikes, were preferred. I kept my arms stretched out and in the end or in something after the end someone showed up. We did it. I left.
Now the dryness punishes me, but it comes disguised in various little adjectives ranging from bestie to boss to the diva who slays—but never lover, girlfriend, partner. The cloak has already covered me completely. It’s over.
Before, I used to read about the loneliness of the black body. Now I need to understand the loneliness of the black trans body. Is it when the cloak covers you completely? Maybe it’s when the blacks disappear and the whites, well, they just stay where they are.
Today, I find myself asking: is anything even capable of tearing off this cloak?


by Titi Rivotril

Em Pow De Ra Da
I Found Power Born From The Ashes
I Rose I Recovered
Until Finally I Found Myself
Empowered You Have To Respect On
The Street In The Fight Always In Search
Of The Path Only I Can Tread
Only I Can Tread
I’m In The Street I Can’t Stop
I’m A Whore In The Street And Without Blah Blah Blah
I Will Not Give In
I Will Not Give In
You Won’t Bring Me Down
Your Prejudice I Will Not Accept
Are You Going To Help?
Are You Going To Help?
Then Get Out
I Don’t Want A Sermon
I’m Not Here To Judge
I’m Not In Your Hands
I Don’t Want And Don’t Accept Your Opinion
In The Streets Of Life I Raised Myself
Lost In The Night I Learned My Way
If You Want To Compare Then Try
To Trace What I Traced
What I Traced
Your Resentful Eyes Won’t Bring Me Down
I’m Tired Of People Who Just Want To Judge
Just Go Away
If You Don’t Like Me You Don’t Need To Stay
Better To Not Stick Around
You Want To Challenge?
I’m Not Going To Fight
I’ll Follow My Path And Leave You Right There
Make No Mistake I’ll Leave You Behind
In My Heart Only Love Will Prevail
Only Love Will Prevail

Tipo Banda Mascucetas

Made up of four transgender and transmasculine individuals living in Belo Horizonte, MASCUCETAS identifies as an artistic and political encounter of resistance. The group, which uses debauchery as their guide to survival, embraces a polyphony of body discourses and a diversity of languages in their performances. In 2018, MASCUCETAS performed 22 times in various cities throughout Minas Gerais, and they received the Cellos MG Award for Human Rights and LGBTQI+ Citizenship Initiative in July of the same year. In 2019, they began the year performing at Belo Horizonte’s first ever festival produced exclusively by members of the trans/travesti community. MASCUCETAS is equipped with theatre, literature, music and performance.

Twenty Million

by Tipo Banda Mascucetas

I’m just walkin’ in the street
when I pass right by your side
and you wonder what you’d say, would it be lesbian or gay?
It’s just that for you, the Universe is sad
But where I came from let me tell you
There are more than twenty million
Twenty million of me

Two Acts, in Writing

By Idylla Silmarovi

(I recommend listening to La guerrillera by Soledad Bravo while reading this text)

Act 1 – The Exercise of Pain

To write about pain, one must listen closely and one must live. Pain is a lived thing, it has color, and its palette is, in its vast majority, black, indigenous, Arab, Latina, Asian. Pain has a non-white aesthetic. Pain comes together with the concept of the Aryan race and it speaks English, French, Spanish, German, it speaks patriarchy, its voice silences and destroys without any intention of building anew. The voice of pain splits the bodies that suffer on the battlefield, in concentration camps, in peripheries, in forests, in factories, on the streets. The pain of the exploited, of the oppressed, of those who feed the mechanized world for a game in which you don’t have the access you deserve to a discourse of such complexity that it doesn’t even come close to reaching us, a discourse that appropriates our identity and turns it into commodity. In Kurdistan they cry “life, women, and liberty,” in Latin America “not one [woman] less”, in Pakistan “we are all Malala”, and these many voices echo the same multilingual, multi-aesthetic, multi-political song. And then territories become maps designed by I don’t know who, but probably by some straight man who didn’t speak to anyone unlike himself. Territory de-territorializes and, in all of its diversity, we, the south, reverberate: multiple, diverse, rich. Raw material. This is the echo of the voices of the Public Enemies of the world! Let it reverberate from the heights of the Andes, from the middle of the desert… 1500, 1964, 2019. From the past that paints the future-present, from the present that translates into something of rebellion. And if I wear black, cover my face, raise up the red and black they will shout at me: “Vandal!” V-A-N-D-A-L. The subject subjected to fragmentation, dejection, the subject grounded in transformation, protagonist without protagonism. Public enemy number 1, 2, 3, 6 and a half billion people on a planet that believes itself sovereign on the basis of the macho-speak of cis-thought that jokes about the blithe murder of (in)human male beings, oh Holy Father, black, brown, Brazilian, Arab, Kurd, Congolese, Indian, indigenous, trans, Latin American streams of blood. Return to territory, to mapping that calls me south after first calling itself north. I go south. It’s in our roots, the south of work and of existence. I bring together the voices of the dead, lacerated, battered, disappeared, raped, tortured, bombed, murdered, enslaved. I flip my world map over and upside down. What’s so dangerous about that? It’s that now we have as much importance as we want and we act how it suits us. That is something truly threatening, so pay attention, it is a threat.

Act 2 – Threat

I threaten artistic structures and aesthetic systems and, most of all, theater and its methodology built on white Eurocentric cis heterosexual and frequently sexist thought. I evoke the possibility that Guerilla Art and Guerilla Theater, created in our South American continent during the Years of Lead, can re-emerge from an intersectional, Latin American, anti-fascist feminist point of view, with its ethics and aesthetics grounded in the methodology of presence. Guerilla Theater and Guerilla Art for those who died in Latin American military dictatorships, for those who still carry this open wound from our history, along with that of colonization, and for those who are dying today. I evoke this original Latin American form of the carnivalesque, this form of thinking about art and politics.


I threaten Operation Condor, which continues to act in our Pindorama4 country known today as Brazil, an operation ordered on the false idea of a democracy built on bodies buried from 1500 through the present day, built on decimated cultures and the destruction of art. I threaten using my body in extinction. Using the death of my ancestors and my ancestral culture that today makes me a mongrel without a defined race, without identity, searching for fragments to construct something I lost, with the blood of murder and rape running through my mestizo veins.


I threaten the binary aesthetic constructions that turn theater into bourgeois entertainment, normalizing the act of watching theater and, as a result, separating the public from the artist through the idea that there is one who does and another who watches. One who sits and another who stands. I threaten the binary theatrical construction that constantly invents “male” or “female” characters, emphasizing their cis-gendered social roles in a misogynistic, racist, and capitalist society. I threaten the aesthetic constructions by experimenting with fluid theory and stream of consciousness, clandestine and armed to the gunnels with poetry, hailing from a country in which dealing arms has been incentivized. I threaten the structure of the United States acting as ally to Brazil, rallying once more against the other, aiming to kill:


Finally, this text is a meditation on political, artistic, and academic memory, which envisages the recent past as the present. It is investigatory poetry that seeks to excavate bodies’ ways of acting. A reflection on art and life and the ways in which they join with the practices of creation. Weapon of the clandestine intellectualism of a mixed race woman blocked from taking ownership over her own choices. Practical-philosophical reflection replete with questions that places the us as subject on the territory that we occupy. Latin America, global south. It is a de-colonial treatise in legitimate defense.



Is it a boy or a girl?


The boy asked the girl where the ze was. The girl, still in the process of finding herself, replied that she didn’t know exactly where she was, that but the mess they’d made more was more than just messy, it was also dirty.

Then the boy suggested that she clean it up and she said that only after all that dust was gone could she possibly call herself ze.

He made it even more dirty by ashing his cigarette on the floor and, once again, suggested that she begin cleaning.

Transitions and Early Mornings

By Jô Arllen

My words refuse to let themselves be called a text. They are a set of memories and rants, ones grabbed while still in my throat and released in silence, amassing like a school of fish fleeing from something bigger and hungrier, poised to disappear into the waters, into the bloodied white page. I’m tired of belonging without taking part. We belong even though they erase us. We become da Silva, de Almeida, de Oliveira, de Alves… Belonging to all of the plantation owners and not to ourselves. Grandma doesn’t even know where she came from, in her stories there is pain and a huge empty hole of loss, and today I can’t belong, not even to a University. Fuck all of you!

Amidst all of the non-belonging and non-spaces the city came.

I can tell that you’re looking at me! I know the city registers my body, looks me up and down. Documenting, interfering, during my simple act of going to the bakery, saying hello, existing. I am afraid of putting my body on the streets, it has been difficult, it has been unbelievable. Early mornings have always belonged to me, even before I belonged to them. My body belongs to the dawn, slipping between alleyways, sleeping around in alleyways, waiting for the bus. Boy, get your hands out of your pockets, hide your cock. I don’t want your dick, I don’t want to suck you off here, I don’t want you to come on me, I don’t want to get beat up. One more not belonging. My body pays a price on the basis of skin color and the gender constructed upon it. Gender is diffuse and ephemeral and, you see, that is why I belong to early mornings, to darkness, to secrets, to the void, to the whisper, to the rustling of trees, to the subtle touch that takes life out of bodies like mine day after day. This body: always an attempt to be something, never something in and of itself.

And don’t get me wrong, when you fuck me within four walls there are no secrets, when I fuck you within four walls there are no secrets. Everything is clear and conscious.

Why didn’t they teach me to love my body? Why didn’t they teach me to be affectionate? Why didn’t they teach me to say good afternoon? Or were these lessons also lost? Just like the stories of my grandma, which are no longer lost because, now, I have learned to listen. I have already listened to so many things from so many people. I’ve even already heard that we come from mud: “from dust you are and unto dust you shall return.”

Boy, the dust is now. Dust is the bodies that roam with no home, the mud is all of us. The mudslide already has us, taking with it our bodies and houses.

Did I already tell you about Black Grandma? Yes, one of those stories about your past that almost got lost between the non-memories and non-histories that your mom would tell. Black Grandma’s name is Carmélia. Name of a flower, name of great grandma, name of a song by Caetano, name of liberation, it means Divine Garden, just like grandma, who is a Garden of poetry.

I am also poetry. Travesti poetry.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Travestis, Our Lady

This performance was carried out with the intention of opening a conversation about personal autonomy, self-affirmation, and respect for diversity. These are moments for integrating trans, cis, heterosexual, and homosexual people, people in a state of homelessness, visual artists, and liberal teachers; it is open to people of all ethnicities, races, genders, sexualities, socio-economic classes, and ages. It consists of a powerfully political integration-action in the area of joyful (“a alegria é a prova dos nove!”6), artistic, human, and TRANSformative creation.

Our Lady of Travestis, Our Lady

By: Academia TransLiterária

Our Lady of Travestis, cover us with your sacred oxó7! Let us lacre8 against any atraque9 that comes from whatever marvã10. Give me the strength to confront those who fazem a uó11 Aquenda12 my dreams in your arms so that my close13 may be right. Let no mapoa14 or oco15 give me threatening looks on the streets. Give me the wisdom of fechação16, that I, with open beasi17aquende myself in your holy lap. Disa18 with any curriola19 and care for me, since I know, as your child, that I was born from you. VRÁAAAA20.

Note on the (lack of) translation: Because the words in italics are part of a dialect of resistance, called Pajubá (or Bajubá), developed with the safety of its speakers in mind, we are not translating these terms into English.

Pajubá, or Bajubá: A linguistic form of knowledge with indigenous origins organized in an African framework and developed by the travesti population and by trans people as a tool for self-protection, preservation, and marginal resistance in Brazil. The following list is not a dictionary of concepts, but rather a collection of synonyms within the same dialect that has been developed by and for members of LGBTQIA+ communities in Brazil.

TransRuba: a Literary Orgy 

A sensual movement that stimulates literary production as a strategy for the production of knowledge and the documentation of memories. All of the people involved in Academia TransLiterária practice writing and have developed this skill. More than fifty texts written by members of this collective, spanning the genres of prose, poetry, and manifesto, have already been catalogued. These works have not yet been published in print form.

trans transruba academia transliterária

A Quebra da Maldição Desde o Seu Nascinmento (Breaking the Curse Since Birth)

A Quebra da Maldição Desde o Seu Nascimento (Breaking the Curse Since Birth) was inspired by the work of artist Iolanda Domínguez (“Registro”, 2014). This performance, developed through a workshop, is open only to trans people and residents of the Vila Dias community in Belo Horizonte and was facilitated by Nickary Aycker and Marta Neves, members of the Academia TransLiterária,

During the performance, members of the collective present and open a free registry on the street and/or in spaces that allow the general public to circulate. Then, to every interested person, they distribute a certificate that recognizes that person’s possession of their own body, fingers, feet, arms, head, baldness, prostheses, contact lenses, weaves, extensions, gel fingernails, appendices, ears, piercings, skin, color, fillings, false eyelashes, veins, tattoos, neurons, hormones, color, bones, industrial silicon, bajubá, and all the rest of their organic material… The certificates are signed and stamped by Academia TransLiterária at the moment of their issuance. At the same time, all of those who received documents receive a blessing and are registered in photographic lacre.


academia trans literaria


We are poetry of
subversive body
and fighting force
We dare to make everyday
our Existence
and our face
is every part


TransLiterária Workshop

The collective’s creative and research residency program has taken place weekly for the past two years in a partnership with the Undió Institute developed by visual artist Thereza Porthes.

trans literária



Instagram: @academiatransliteraria
Contact: +55 31 9 9795 5647 (João Maria Kaisen – Produtor Geral)



  1. Lugar de fala can be translated to “standpoint of speech” in English. The philosopher Djamila Ribeiro goes into depth on the meaning and connotations of the term in her book O que é lugar de fala? (What is the Standpoint of Speech?). To simplify, “the standpoint of speech” refers to the oppressed position of certain groups within the societal power structures and social environment.
  2. torta: (1) adj. uneven, as in a line that’s not straight, crooked; (2) n., pie.
  3. The adjective can be used in the feminine (torta) or masculine (torto) form, depending on what it describes. Hence the speaker’s replacement of the term torta with torto, in reference to his own body.
  4. Pindorama: the Tupi term for Brazil, which translates to Land of the Palms.
  5. “Vale kills people kills rivers kills fish”: The phrase used to protest Vale, a multinational metal and mining corporation responsible for the catastrophic dam failure in Brumadinho in 2019, in addition to other humanitarian and environmental abuses. The dam failure in Brumadinho caused a mudslide that killed over 200 people.
  6. A alegria é a prova dos nove!” refers to a concept of joy developed by Oswald de Andrade in his complete works.
  7. Oxó – roupa
  8. Lacre – arrasar
  9. Atraque – confusão
  10. Marvã – marginal uó
  11. Fazer a Uó – viajar em mim
  12. Aquendar – do verbo aquendar
  13. Close – tombamento
  14. Mapoa – patrícia
  15. Ocó – bofe
  16. Fechação – sinônimo de lacre
  17. Beasi – peito
  18. Disá – corre
  19. Curriola – b.o.
  20. Vráaaaa -vrá


Trans e Travestis na Ditadura Militar (2017). Por Luci Universo. Colagem digital.

Conversa com Sônia Sissy Kelly, Uma Travesti na Ditadura Militar

Autoria: Marta Neves

Sônia completa, em abril de 2019, 63 anos, na contramão da expectativa de vida para as travestis no Brasil, que é de 35 anos. É militante LGBT, especialmente ligada ao envelhecimento dessa comunidade, bem como à sua população de rua. Sissy Kelly mora atualmente na Ocupação Carolina Maria de Jesus, em Belo Horizonte/MG, e é uma referência para a Academia TransLiterária que a entrevistou através de Marta Neves, uma de suas integrantes.

“ Nós éramos perseguidas pela polícia, que deveria nos proteger… ”

Marta: De que maneira a ditadura militar afetou sua vida?

Sônia: Afetou por ter tirado todos os meus direitos de ser a pessoa que eu queria ser. Na ditadura militar nós não tínhamos o direito de exercer nossa sexualidade e gênero. Nós éramos perseguidas pela polícia, que deveria nos proteger e era aquela que mais nos violentava, a que mais violava nossos direitos. A ditadura militar contribuiu muito para o adoecimento mental da população LGBT. Ela contribuiu muito também para que a população LGBT não permanecesse na sala de aula… ela afetou muitíssimo essa população.

“ …a gente está vivendo uma semelhante ditadura… “

Marta: Como você imagina que seria a vida de uma travesti caso a gente tivesse tido um processo democrático no lugar desses vinte anos de ditadura? … e depois que a gente teve a redemocratização, melhorou em quê, melhorou em que sentido?

Sônia: Eu acho que se não tivesse tido a ditadura, nós teríamos sido mais livres; eu acredito que as famílias teriam amparado mais os seus filhos LGBT e eu acredito que a religião também teria acolhido, mesmo a escola também teria acolhido mais… Mas não basta apenas não termos vivido numa ditadura, tinha que ter combatido todos esses preconceitos existentes. Eu acredito que o racismo também contribui muito para o preconceito contra as pessoas LGBT… Eu acredito que, no final da ditadura militar, a gente tenha conquistado muita coisa sim. A gente às vezes está tão focada nas coisas ruins… mas a gente ganhou força, ganhou espaço de fala, a gente teve voz, a gente criou movimentos sociais, a gente se organizou. Hoje nós temos visibilidade, alguns partidos políticos já nos apoiaram… Se comenta muito de sexualidade e gênero, as pessoas já chegam hoje, adolescentes, entendendo de sua sexualidade e gênero – o que não acontecia na ditadura militar. Então nós estamos assim: nós temos muito ainda pra avançar mas acredito que nós estamos no caminho certo. E agora com esse retrocesso, que a gente está vivendo uma semelhante ditadura, isso tem nos trazido prejuízo porque a gente já perdeu também muitas políticas afirmativas garantidas. Nesse momento agora, de luta, com esse governo fascista, é que a gente precisa estar muito junto, muito unido na luta pra que a gente não tenha tanto retrocesso, mais do que a gente já teve. Eu acredito na saúde, na educação e na criminalização da lgbtfobia. A gente esperou tanto aí, né? que fosse avançar e pararam… a gente não sabe a que pé e por que isso aconteceu, estou um pouco decepcionada. Eu me alegrei tanto e agora estou decepcionada.

trans sonia sissy kelly
Sônia Sissy Kelly, ativista travesti.

“ … na ditadura militar os movimentos sociais se fortaleceram… “

Marta: Você acha que a gente tem, nessa guinada à direita no processo político atual, pontos em comum com a ditadura militar?

Sônia: Há bastante semelhança… porque na ditadura militar os movimentos sociais se fortaleceram. Então sempre que tem um retrocesso, uma perda, os movimentos sociais se erguem, lutam e saem dali fortalecidos. E agora a gente está vivendo uma semelhança, bastante considerável, com a ditadura militar, estamos tendo muito retrocesso em tudo mas também os movimentos sociais, as mulheres, LGBT’s, negros, idosos, está todo mundo aí lutando, ninguém vai nos calar, tá entendendo? Então acredito que sim, nada acontece por acaso e a gente vai sair desse processo aí, bastante complicado, muito mais fortes do que na ditadura. A gente vai sair aí porque a gente tem que acreditar na nossa militância, na nossa população brasileira… E eu acredito que vamos ter quatro anos, porque eu não quero que aconteça com o nosso presidente o que aconteceu com a Dilma, né? Já que ele ganhou, que ele governe os quatro anos dele mas ele não vai ter mais condição de ser eleito pelo povo. Porque o povo não é bobo mais pra eleger um candidato como esse. Então acredito que estamos, sim, aproveitando esse momento difícil para nos fortalecer.

Marta: Mas você acha que um impeachment não seria uma boa coisa?

Sônia: Se o impeachment saísse, seria uma boa coisa se não fosse como com a Dilma, se tivesse uma justa causa mesmo, verdadeira. Acho que isso não falta, né? Justa causa para haver o impeachment desse presidente…

Marta: O problema é que assume um general…

Sônia: Pois é! A gente tem que ver o que vai ser bom e o que vai ser pior ainda se tiver o impeachment. Mas e o que ele fez até hoje para os brasileiros, a não ser falar abobrinha? Então a gente está vivendo num país muito hipócrita…

“ Eu adoeci. ”

Marta: Eu senti, no final do ano passado, especialmente a coisa se acirrou no segundo turno das eleições presidenciais, um desespero, uma coisa psiquicamente muito pesada dentro do universo LGBT, um horror, um adoecimento…

Sônia: Eu adoeci.

Marta: Você também?

Sônia: Sim. Tô me curando.

Marta: Como você se sente neste momento, você tem medo, como está a sua cabeça? Sei que você está com uma fé nesses movimentos sociais, acho que é isso que nos segura, mas eu queria que você falasse mais sobre essas sensações.

Sônia: O medo passou. Olhando bem, é o medo que eu tive na ditadura militar e eu não deixei de viver. A gente era limitada na ditadura militar e estamos sendo limitados hoje na nossa expressão mas algumas conquistas, como usar nossas roupas femininas, expressar nossos corpos políticos por onde passarmos, isso esse governo não vai tirar de nós agora, neste momento. Então o pior já passou. Hoje, por mais difícil que seja, a gente tem é que celebrar a vida mesmo, porque nada vai nos deter. Nem mesmo um governo fascista vai conseguir nos derrotar porque hoje nós temos consciência do que precisamos e temos pessoas que nos ouvem também. Então não tenho mais medo. Eu tive medo até o exato momento em que ele foi declarado presidente. Daquele momento pra frente eu não tinha mais tempo de temer a morte, eu teria que arregaçar as mangas e enfrentar esse governo e não só eu, mas todos nós estamos aí na luta.


Poetisa da aceitação

Autoria: Pitty Negreiros

Meu sexto sentido não falha,
Quando detestava querer ser normal,
O Cistema que me criou,
Se é doença você não me curou,
Conheces a cura, do que não é um mal,
A luta, é ser feliz de novo,
O correto é fazer parte do meu show,
Independentemente, amor é teto
A droga mais forte que usei certo,
Respeite meu banheiro só!
Mude o mundo de verdade, aceite o gênero amade, isso é fardo do coração!

Desmitificando o Ser

Autoria: Rodrigo Carizu

O risco. Sou riscado.
O risco de uma linha que nada de torta tem, mas tudo de torta tem.
Torta de limão. Azedo igual eu. Docinho quando estou feliz.
Rabiscado como uma linha de avião no céu. De uma cor indefinida de giz de cera.
No risco do meu corpo, na cera do corpo, no giz do braço, na cor dos olhos, no sabor da boca, no doce e amargo do sexo, dos lábios desnudos. No risco do meu corpo eu descobri o céu. Essa tal linha do avião rabiscando o céu, é o meu corpo rabiscando o papel. É o meu corpo rabiscando roupas, cortes de cabelos, escolas, bocas, cursos, bares, trabalhos, arte, músicas, danças, é o meu corpo rabiscando olhares sobre mim, os perversos e os bons, é o meu corpo rabiscando olhares. É o meu corpo rabiscando novas formas de ver.
Quando criança me disseram “torta”, era verdade, estava ‘toda torta’, nada de alinhado tinha, porque não era pra ter. Na minha torta de limão chamaram de torta de maçã. Nada a ver, eu nem era tão doce assim. Hoje sou meio maçã meio limão meio o giz de cera de cor sem nome. Eu disse: “não sou torta, eu sou torto!”. Tudo se resolveu!
Sou o risco torto de uma torta linda!
Sou um giz de cera.
Sou o risco da vida. Sou o Ser.

A capa da Invisibilidade

Autoria: Brisa Alkimin

Me tornei um ser completamente invisível. Uma coisa invisível. Um troço invisível.
Algo invisível.
Antes a capa da Invisibilidade tentava me cobrir por completo, mas eu me esforçava aqui e ali e conseguia sair um pouquinho pelas bordas sabe? Eu ficava com os braços ora abertos, ora esticados, pra que a tal capa não me deixasse invisível por completo. Mas agora isso não funciona mais.
Antes era difícil conseguir ter um encontro, por exemplo. Fui muito preterida. Mas se eu esticava os braços aqui e ali, se persistia um pouco lá e cá, costumava funcionar.
Sempre falei de solidão. Mas hoje que a capa me cobriu por inteira, eu sinto ainda e cada vez mais amargo esse gosto. Amargo. Amargo, amargo inclusive; comecei a questionar se esse era realmente o meu gosto. Se eu era uma fruta de começo doce, mas de poupa amarga, podre, ruim, quase insuportável. Se antes eu era a fruta que seria a última a sair da cesta, hoje eu apodreço na fruteira. E ainda assim espero. Quem sabe pra um suco serve, uma vitamina, uma salada serve.
Um esforço. Eu me esforço. Antes da capa me cobrir por completo eu sabia que frutas claras e com belas espigas lisas ou cacheadas tinham mais preferência. Eu continuava com os braços esticados e no fim ou no algo depois do fim alguém aparecia. Fazia. E ia.
Agora a secura me castiga, mas ela vem disfarçada de vários adjetivinhos que vão de melhor amiguinha a diva lacradora – mas nunca de parceira, de ficante, de namorada. A capa já me cobriu por completo. Já era.
Antes eu lia sobre solidão do corpo negro. Hoje eu preciso entender sobre solidão do corpo negro e trans. É quando a capa te envolve por completo? Talvez seja quando os pretos somem e os brancos, bom, eles continuam nos seus mesmos lugares.
Hoje, eu me pergunto: será se alguma coisa é capaz de rasgar essa capa?


by Titi Rivotril

Em Pow De Ra Da
Me Empoderei Nascida Das Cinza
Voltei Me Recuperei
Até Que Enfim Me Encontrei
Empoderada Tem Que Respeitar Na
Rua Na Luta Estou Sempre A Buscar
O Meu Caminho Só Eu Posso Trilhar
Só Eu Posso Trilhar
Eu To Na Rua Não Posso Para
Sou Puta De Rua E Sem Blah Blah
Não Vou Me Entregar
Não Vou Me Entregar
Não Deixo Você Me Deter
Os Seus Preconceitos Não Vou Aceitar
Você Vai Me Ajudar ?
Você Vai Me Ajudar ?
Então Vai Pra Lá
Não Quero Sermão
Nem Julgo Irmão
Não Estou Em Suas Mãos
Não Quero E Não Aceito Sua Opinião
Nas Ruas Da Vida Eu Me Criei
Perdida Na Noite Eu Me Formei
Quer Se Comparar Então Tente
Traçar O Que Eu Traçei
O Que Eu Traçei
Seus Olhos De Inveja Não Vão Me Acertar
Estou Cheia De Gente Que Quer Me Julgar
E Só Afastar
Não Precisa Ficar Se Não Gosta De Mim
Melhor Nem Colar
Quer Desafiar?
Não Vou Combater
Sigo Meu Caminho E Deixo Você
Não Tem Confusão Eu Te Largo De Mão
No Meu Coração Só O Amor Vai Vencer
Só O Amor Vai Vencer

Tipo Banda Mascucetas

Formada por quatro homens transgêneros e transmasculinos, MASCUCETAS se afirma como um encontro artístico, político e de resistência, através da polifonia dos discursos destes corpos, das multilinguagens utilizadas em suas performances e do deboche como guia de sobrevivência. Residentes em Belo Horizonte, os artistas fizeram, em 2018, 22 apresentações em algumas cidades de Minas Gerais, e receberam o Prêmio Cellos MG de Iniciativa de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania LGBTQI + em julho do mesmo ano. Em 2019, iniciaram suas apresentações no 1º festival produzido exclusivamente por pessoas trans/travestis em Belo Horizonte. A facção MASCUCETAS está munida de teatro, literatura, música e performance.

Vinte Milhões

Autoria: Tipo Banda Mascucetas

Tô de boa na rua
E passo ao seu lado
Você sem entender se eu sou sapa ou viado
É que pra você o Universo é triste
Mas de onde eu vim vou te dizer
Tem mais de vinte milhões
Vinte milhões de mim

Dois Atos Escritos

Autoria: Idylla Silmarovi

(indico leitura desse texto escutando Soledad Bravo – La guerrillera)

Ato escrito 1 – exercício de dor

Para escrever sobre uma dor é preciso ouvir muito e viver. A dor que se vive tem cor, a paleta é vasta e maioria, negra, indígena, árabe, latina, asiática, a dor tem uma estética não-branca. A dor vem junto da idéia ariana e a fala inglês, francês, espanhol, alemão, fala patriarcal, voz que silencia e destrói sem intenção de construção do novo. A voz de dor que parte de corpos que sofrem nos campos de guerra, de concentração, nas periferias, nas matas, nas fábricas, nas ruas. A dor dos explorados, dor dos oprimidos, de quem alimenta a máquina-mundo num jogo que não se tem acesso devido a tamanha complexidade de uma fala que não nos aproxima e apropria da nossa identidade e a transforma em comércio. Em Curdistão gritam “Vida, mulher e Liberdade”, na América Latina “ni una menos”, no Paquistão “todas somos Malala”, são várias vozes ecoando um mesmo canto multilinguístico, multiestético, multipolítico. Daí os territórios se transformam em mapas desenhados por alguém que desconheço, mas que provavelmente macho não perguntou a ninguém que não seus pares. O território se desterritorializa e em todas as suas diversidades ecoamos o sul, múltiplo, diverso, rico. Matéria-prima. É o eco da voz das Inimigas Públicas do mundo! Que ecoa do alto dos Andes, do meio do deserto… 1500, 1964, 2019. Do passado que desenha o futuro-presente, do presente que se traduz em algo de rebelião. E se eu visto de negro, cubro o meu rosto, levanto a bandeira vermelha e negra já me gritam “Vândala!”. V-Â-N-D-A-L-A. Sujeito sujeito à fragmentação, ao dejeto, sujeito na base de mudanças, protagonista sem protagonismo. Inimiga pública número 1, 2, 3, 6 bilhões e meio de habitantes de um planeta que se crê soberano na base do falo-macho de um cis pensamento que faz a piada que mata debochada de seres (in)humanos varão, oh Santo Padre, sangue das cordeias negras, morenas, brasileiras, árabes, curdas, congolesas, indianas, indígenas, trans, latino americanas… Voltamos ao território, mapeamento que me chama de sul por primeiro autodenominar-se norte. Sulizo. Encontro na raiz, o sul do trabalho e existência. Junto das vozes de corpos mortos, dilacerados, machucados, desaparecidos, estuprados, torturados, bombardeados, assassinados, escravizados. Viro o meu mapa mundi de lado do outro de ponta cabeça ao revés. O que há de perigoso nisso? É que agora nós temos a importância que quisermos e agimos como nos convém. Isso se torna algo ameaçador e de fato, fiquem atentos, é uma ameaça.

Ato escrito 2 – Ameaça

Ameaço as estruturas artísticas e os esquemas estéticos e principalmente teatrais construídos e metodologizados a partir do pensamento eurocentrado branco cis heterossexual e de maioria machista. Evoco possibilidade da Arte de Guerrilha e do Teatro de Guerrilha criados em nosso continente sul americano nos anos de chumbo ressurgir através do ponto de vista feminista interseccional latino-americano antiditatorial com sua ética e estética calcadas na metodologia da presença. Teatro e Arte de Guerrilha por todos os que morreram nas ditaduras militares na América Latina e que, além da colonização, mantém essa ferida aberta em nossa história e por todes que morrem hoje. Evoco esse modo original latino americano de carnavandalizar e pensar a arte e a política.


Ameaço a Operação Condor que ainda atua em nosso país Pindorama hoje chamado de Brasil, operação mandante da falsa ideia democrática de corpos insepultos de 1500 até os dias de hoje, de culturas assassinadas e modos artísticos destruídos. Ameaço com meu corpo em extinção. Com a morte dos meus antepassados e da minha cultura ancestral que faz de mim hoje uma vira-lata sem raça definida, sem identidade, catando fragmentos para a construção de algo que se perdeu, com o sangue de assassinatos e estupros correndo em minhas veias mestiças.


Ameaço os esquemas binários estéticos que levam o teatro para o prazer burguês, normatizando o fazer e assistir teatro, separando assim público e artistas na norma de um que faz e um que assiste. Um sentado e outro em pé. Ameaço o esquema binário teatral que traz a todo tempo personagens “homens” ou “mulheres” enfatizando seus papéis sociais cisgêneros em uma sociedade misógina racista e capitalista. Ameaço os esquemas estéticos em uma experimentação de escrita teoria fluida e poética rasgada, clandestinidade armada até os dentes de poesia, vindo do país em que o porte de armas tem sido incentivado. Ameaço o esquema norte americano aliado ao Brasil que novamente contra o outro deseja extingui-lo:


Por fim, esta escrita é um pensamento sobre a memória política, artística e acadêmica, que tenciona o passado recente com o presente. É uma poesia investigadora que busca escavações nos modos de fazer dos corpos. Uma reflexão sobre arte e vida e do modo como essas questões vêm alinhadas às práticas de criação. Arma da clandestinidade intelectual de uma mulher mestiça impedida de ser dona de suas escolhas. Reflexão prático-filosófica repleta de questionamentos que coloca o nós como sujeito sobre o território no qual estamos. América Latina, sul global. É um tratado decolonial em legítima defesa.



É menino ou menina?

Autoria: JoMaKA

O menino perguntou pra menina onde é que estava menine. Menina ainda no processo de se encontrar respondeu que nem sabia exatamente onde ela estava pois a bagunça que fizeram além de bagunça também era sujeira.

Então menino sugeriu que ela fizesse uma faxina e ela disse que só quando não houvesse mais essa poeira é que talvez pudesse dizer de menine.

Ele sujou ainda mais quando bateu as cinzas do cigarro no chão e novamente propôs a limpeza.

Transições e madrugadas

Autoria: Jô Arllen

Minhas palavras se recusam a ser chamadas de texto, elas são um conjunto de memórias e desabafos, agarradas na garganta e que saem silenciosas, se amontoam como um cardume que foge do peixe maior e voraz, prestes a ser devorada, prestes a desaparecer pelas águas, pela folha em branco suja de sangue. Cansei de pertencer e não fazer parte. Pertencemos tanto que nos apagaram. Viramos da Silva, de Almeida, de Oliveira, de Alves… De todos os Senhores de Engenho, menos de nós mesmas. Vó nem sabe de onde veio, entre suas histórias existe dor e um grande buraco vazio que se perdeu e hoje, eu não consigo pertencer nem a Universidade. Meu cu para todos vocês!

Entre tantos não pertencimentos e não lugares a cidade veio.

Eu sei que você me olha! Eu sei que meu corpo é registrado pela cidade, olhares me fintam. Registros e intervenções, no ato de ir a padaria, de dar bom dia, de existir. Eu sinto medo ao colocar meu corpo pelas ruas, tem sido difícil, tem sido incrível. A madrugada sempre me pertenceu, antes mesmo que eu a pertencesse, meu corpo a ela pertence, transitando entre becos, transando entre becos, esperando meu ônibus. Moço, tire as mãos das calças, guarde sua pica. Eu não quero seu pau, eu não quero te chupar aqui, eu não quero que você goza em mim, eu não quero ser rasgada. Mais um não pertencimento.

Existe uma cobrança de corpo, sobre a cor da minha pele e o gênero que é construído sobre ele. Gênero difuso e transitório, vai ver por isso pertenço a madrugada, a escuridão, ao segredo, ao vazio, ao sussurro, ao assobio debaixo da árvore, ao toque sutil que dia após dia tira vida de corpos como o meu. Esse corpo, que sempre é a tentativa de ser algo, nunca a coisa em si.

E não me venha com essa de desentendida, enquanto você me come entre quatro paredes não existe segredo, enquanto eu como você entre quatro paredes não existe segredos. é tudo bem entendido e consciente.

Pq não ensinaram a amar meu corpo? pq não ensinaram a me dar afeto? Pq não ensinaram a me dar boa tarde? Ou será que esses ensinamentos também foram perdidos? Assim como as histórias de vó, que só não se perdem mais pois eu, hoje, aprendi a ouvir. Já ouvi tanta coisa de tanta gente, já ouvi até que viemos do barro, “do pó viemos e ao pó voltaremos”.

Moço, o pó é o agora, o pó são os corpos que vagam sem teto, o barro somos todos nós. A lama já nos levou, já tomou conta de corpos e casas. Já contei de vó Preta? Sim, aquela das histórias sobre seu passado quase perdido entre as não recordações e não histórias contadas pela sua mãe. O nome de Vó Preta é Carmélia.

Nome de flô, nome da bisa, nome de música do Caetano, nome de libertação, significa Jardim Divino, assim como vó, que é Jardim de poesia.

Eu também sou poesia, poesia Travesti.

Coroação da Nossa Senhora das Travestis, Nossa Senhora

Esta performance foi apresentada numa perspectiva de abertura à discussão sobre autonomia pessoal, auto afirmação e respeito à diversidade. São momentos de integração entre pessoas trans, cis, hetero, homossexuais, população em situação de rua, artistas plásticos, profissionais liberais; sem restrição de cor, raça gênero, sexualidade, classe ou idade. Consiste em uma integração/ação política potente e alegre (“a alegria é a prova dos nove!”) campo de realização artística, humana e TRANSformadora.

Nossa Senhora das Travestis, Nossa Senhora

Autoria: Academia TransLiterária

Nossa Senhora das Travestis, cubra-nos com seu oxó1 sagrado! Passe o lacre2 contra todo atraque3 que possa vir de qualquer marvã4. Que eu tenha força pra grudar naqueles que fazem a uó5 Aquenda6 em seus braços meus sonhos para que meu close7. Que nenhuma mapoa8 ou ocó9 me olhe torto nas ruas. Daí-me a sabedoria da fechação10, que eu, com as beasi11 abertas, aquende em seu santo colo. Disa12 com qualquer curriola13 e cuida de mim, pois, como filha, sei que nasci daí. VRÁAAAA14.

TransRuba – uma Suruba Literária

Movimento sensual que estimula a produção literária, como uma estratégia para produção de conhecimento, bem como de registro das memórias. Todas as pessoas da Academia TransLiterária praticam a escrita e têm desenvolvido essa habilidade. Mais de 50 textos escritos por pessoas membro do coletivo já foram catalogados, em prosa, poesia e manifesto. Ainda não há uma publicação impressa do coletivo.

trans transruba academia transliterária

A Quebra da Maldição Desde o Seu Nascimento

“A quebra da maldição desde seu nascimento” foi inspirada no trabalho da artista Iolanda Domínguez (“Registro”, 2014) e desenvolvida como desdobramento de oficina (exclusiva para a população trans e moradores da comunidade Vila Dias, de Belo Horizonte, ministrada por duas integrantes da Academia TransLiterária: Nickary Aycker e Marta Neves.

Durante a performance integrantes do coletivo apresentam e inauguram o cartório, gratuito, na rua e/ou em espaços abertos à circulação do grande público. Distribuem então a cada pessoa interessada sua certidão de posse do próprio corpo, dedos, pés, braços, cabeça, careca, próteses, lentes de contato, apliques, megahair, unhas de gel, entranhas, apêndice, orelhas, piercings, pele, cor, obturações, cílios postiços, veias, tatuagens, neurônios, hormônios, cor, ossos, silicone industrial, bajubá e tudo o que lhe for perecível… As certidões são assinadas e carimbadas pela Academia TransLiterária no momento de sua emissão performática, quando também são abençoades todes aqueles documentades, bem como há seu registro em “lacre fotográfico.


academia trans literaria

Autoria: JoMaKA

Somos a poesia
De corpo subversivo
e força de luta
que ousa fazer do dia dia
nossa Existência
E a nossa face
é toda parte


Ateliê TransLiterária

A residência de pesquisa e criação coletiva acontece há dois anos, semanalmente, em parceria com o Instituto Undió, da artista plástica Thereza Porthes.

trans literária



Instagram: @academiatransliteraria
Contato: +55 31 9 9795 5647 (João Maria Kaisen – Produtor Geral)



  1. oxó – roupa
  2. lacre – arrasar
  3. atraque – confusão
  4. marvã – marginal uó
  5. Fazer a Uó – viajar em mim
  6. Aquendar – do verbo aquendar
  7. Close – tombamento
  8. Mapoa – patrícia
  9. Ocó – bofe
  10. Fechação – sinônimo de lacre
  11. Beasi – peito
  12. Disa – corre
  13. Curriola – b.o.
  14. Vráaaaa -vrá

Neusa Maria Pereira

The journalist who played a key role in founding the Unified Black Movement, Brazil’s first national movement for racial justice


In 1978, a coalition of different black cultural and community groups in Brazil protested racial discrimination on the steps of the Municipal Theater in São Paulo. The event was historic, both because it marked the first unified effort to debunk the myth that Brazil is a “racial democracy” and because it did so in the midst of a military dictatorship. Neusa Maria Pereira is a black journalist and activist who was part of the core group that established the protest, which resulted in Brazil’s Unified Black Movement. Through both words and actions, Pereira worked at the intersection of the fight for racial justice and resistance to Brazil’s military dictatorship. Here, she sits down with Artememoria to explain how she pioneered a political and cultural outcry against racism in a society that feigns color blindness.

Artememoria: Tell me about how you first became interested in writing in general, and in journalism more specifically.

Neusa Maria Pereira: I’m old school, and I had a literary education. I’m machadiano.1 I read Lima Barreto, da Cruz e Souza. I read almost all of James Baldwin, who was a key author in my literary, political, and emotional education. I’m from that school of thought, you see? I identify with those authors.

I also inherited the practice of writing from my father. My dad always wrote. He was the neighborhood block association representative. He was the one who wrote up meeting minutes and neighborhood demands, who wrote prayers. I inherited writing from him.

Journalism taught me to meet people and to listen. More than just listening, it taught me to put the stories I heard on paper. And journalism taught me to do that in such a way that anyone from a domestic worker to a higher-up in the literary academy would understand what I had written. I’m not a researcher. I observe our society and I am a victim of our society, and my actions are part of the historic liberation movement tied to issues of race in this country.

Neusa maria pereira cadernos negros black justice brazil mnu
Neusa Maria Pereira brought her copy of the second volume of Cadernos Negros (Black Notebooks), published in 1979, to the interview. Cadernos Negros is a groundbreaking annual anthology that showcases fiction and nonfiction written by black Brazilian authors.

Artememoria: Was there a specific moment in your youth that you began to get involved in political and social activism?

 Pereira: My childhood was very rich because my grandmother raised me. My mother died when I was three years old, and my grandmother was a feminist, even though she worked in the home. My black feminism comes from her. She was a matriarch who raised my brother and me. She didn’t know how to read and yet, when we were just toddlers, she told us: “you two are going to go to school.”

I didn’t want to go to school. That world was a total nightmare for me. I was in public school and the teacher made the girls who talked during class sit under the desks. The girls who had to go under their desks were always the poorest black girls, you know? I came from a lower middle class background in financial terms, but my dad received a standard salary as a government employee, my grandmother received a pension, and my uncle also worked. I wasn’t someone who went hungry. I would go to school nicely dressed with a bow in my hair, which meant that I didn’t get discriminated against. But seeing those little black girls going under their desks – the ones who came from poorer backgrounds, which you could see in the way they dressed and acted and all of that – it terrified me. I remember that I stayed completely silent. I got 100 on behavior and bad grades in every other subject. That affected me psychologically, and I had to repeat first grade.

My dad was a visionary, taking me out of that school. He enrolled me in a Catholic school and that’s when I began to shine. I sat in the first row and the teacher loved me. It’s so important to be loved, to understand that others like you, to discover that people see you as an important, beautiful, and vivacious child, someone who can learn and go somewhere in life. I remember that the desks in that school weren’t in rows. We had big tables, and a few different girls could sit at each one. That was such an important phase of my life. During those years, I became best friends with other black girls. I remember how they made me feel comfortable in that context. In that school, I was around people who were like me.

I grew up in an environment in which my dad, poor thing, denied racism. He saw racism as something destructive to black people in every way. He thought black people had to adapt in order to join society in order to not suffer, in order to be accepted. I was educated along those lines: you have to be a good girl, you have to be a good student, you can’t have an afro. But the thing is, my grandmother also raised me, and she was old school. She never told me to straighten out my hair. She always kept my hair in braids. And when afros were in fashion, I had one, and it was huge! That’s because my grandmother took good care of my hair, respecting it for the way it is. She would never, ever comb my hair and say, “such coarse hair, such difficult hair.” I never heard my grandmother say that. She did it up nice. She identified completely with the person who she was, and that’s what she passed on to me. “You are black, you have these characteristics, and you should never disrespect them. You have this kind of hair, here’s the way to care for it, and it’s not a bad kind of hair.” I even wrote a story about this, called Pixaim, on the site Blogueiras Negras.

I started to become conscious of racial issues when I turned 16, but even then it wasn’t fully clear to me. My dad got me a scholarship for me to study at Mackenzie, an American school. Only the most elite students attended that school. The other girls who studied there had been studying at Mackenzie practically since they were born. A lot of them spoke English at home because they were foreign. I was one of two black students, and the other was a boy who studied engineering. The school is in the Higienópolis neighborhood, which was another shock for me. I had to go from the periphery in the North Zone to study there in Mackenzie. And just getting to Mackenzie high school would take two hours. Two hours to get there, two hours to get back home. I barely had any time to study.

I started to feel racial discrimination when I studied at Mackenzie. The teachers didn’t discriminate against me, and a lot of people at Mackenzie liked me, but it was because of the way men acted. One of the boys was part of a group called the Incríveis, which was a rock band at the time, and once, when I was going down for recess, I heard him shout: “mon-key, oo–oo—aah–aah, mon-key, oo—oo—aah–aah.” I was 16 years old and, as you can see, I still remember that to this day. Men are manipulated to reproduce all of the values of the dominant class. And one value of the dominant class is that women are inferior, and black women more inferior still, so they have to be even more disrespected. Once, when I was 16, I went to the movies. I was wearing a blue shirt and sat with a friend. I heard a boy say, “Those two are cute. The one wearing blue is pretty, but one thing’s wrong with her.” What was wrong with me? The color of my skin. Boys were always the most discriminatory, the ones who were the most explicit in their racism. It’s still like that. They continue to reproduce the values of the dominant class, which is the way they were raised. Imagine taking a black girl home back then, more than 40 years ago. Even friendships were questioned. Imagine a black girlfriend. It was impossible in the world we were brought up in, in which standards of intelligence and beauty were defined by whiteness.

I didn’t have time to rationalize these racial issues back then. I felt different than other people, but I didn’t necessarily feel inferior. I was afraid to speak up in certain situations. I felt like I had to stay quiet, that I had to study more, but all of that was a product of my background. My dad would say, ‘black people have to study, they can’t mess up. If you want to achieve something, if you want to have a decent job and survive, you need to study.’ He didn’t speak in terms of, ‘look at how racism –’ No. And he never said, “you have to present yourself as white as possible,” but today I understand that that’s what he meant.

I think that’s why I write. I write more than I speak. Black people didn’t speak, they listened. That was a huge barrier. Sometimes, you wouldn’t understand something and you didn’t have the courage to ask a question because there was this notion that black people were intellectually inferior. You had that idea in your head without reading anything about it, simply because white people were the ones who raised their hands, the ones who were confident in their argumentative power, the ones who could say whatever nonsense they wanted in class and no one would pay any attention to it. But if a black person raised their hand, the entire class would turn to see what they were going to say, to see if they were going to say something stupid. That was intimidating.

Artememoria: It sounds like a long process of growing conscious about racism. 

Pereira: Very. A process of becoming conscious about what racism is and how it relates to those who want to maintain ideologies of white supremacy. Racism became apparent to me from that boy at recess, from what that other one said to me at the movies, from a friend of mine who was just as tall as me and who said, “eesh, you are just so tall.” She was just as tall as me, but she wanted to make me feel inferior because of my height, just because everything that is black had to be ugly. I knew all about self-acceptance because of my grandmother, so this was never hugely traumatic for me. I lived with her until I was 27 years old. But when I went to that other world, I did start to feel that kind of discourse.

But then the era of the student movement began. In the midst of dictatorship there were marches demanding that the regime be toppled, that the oppression of all different social sectors had to end. A branch of the University of São Paulo was right in front of Mackenzie. I was studying next door during one of the most intense crackdowns of a dictatorship that lasted for two decades. There were bombs, the police were always there. And I came from the periphery, witnessing those historic events as I entered Mackenzie high school.

Artememoria: Did you participate in the movement against the dictatorship at that time?

Pereira: I did. Alone, too, because I was the only one who studied in Mackenzie from my neighborhood in the periphery. I would go to the marches out of curiosity, not because of ideology. I was also a student and I wanted to know what was going on with those other students and workers holding signs. All of that started waking me up to the fact that society was not equal, and that’s why groups were protesting.

I also started to see what was going on with the civil rights movement in the United States. That really woke me up. You’re American, your country is an imperial power. It’s the developed world, the country that dictates the behavioral norms for the black diaspora in a lot of other countries. Our media gave airtime to the civil rights liberation movement because it was American. And I started paying attention to these movements in the United States, since I already identified with what was Americanized. What music did I listen to? American music. Which artists did I know about? American artists. Who was the king of my generation? Elvis Presley. Of course, no one said that everything Elvis learned came from Harlem, that he went to Harlem and found rock music, but that he was accepted because he was white.

When I started researching more about these US liberation movements, I identified with the Panthers. My world started to open up. They’re black just like me, they are part of the diaspora just like I am, and they’re doing this, they’re feeling this, imagine what we’re dealing with! We were the lowest of the low in Brazil because that idea of racial democracy reigned supreme. “Brazil isn’t like that. There’s no racism here. We’re all equal.” Why wasn’t there racism? Because black people were never at any negotiating table, because black people were unemployed, because they were drunk on the street, because they faced barriers at every turn – that’s why there wasn’t racism. That’s what a racial democracy is: black people in their place, which is no place at all.

Now, the way the TV portrayed what was going on in the US – everything except for Martin Luther King – made black people seem like troublemakers. That’s also interesting in light of Brazil. Television and media only represent a specific sector of society, that of the dominant class. They won’t open peoples’ eyes to the fact that black people are fighting because they want to be treated as equals, because they also want to have power, because they want everything that white people have. Angela Davis is practically a banned name in mainstream circles in the United States, and that’s because she openly identifies as a communist.

Artememoria: That last comment is an interesting point of intersection between racial struggle and class struggle. How did you see the dynamic between movements for racial justice and socialist movements in Brazil during the dictatorship? 

Pereira: We were a leftist black movement, and our demands didn’t clash with those of the left. But we were seen as entirely communist. The dictatorship lumped those of us involved in the black rights’ movement in with the socialists because we were seen as people who wanted to disturb public order, because we were seen as bringing up a problem that didn’t exist.

I thought Martin Luther King was so wholesome. He was a person with really excellent principles who believed in humanity, so much so that he was assassinated. Malcom X, who later would become one of my idols, was also assassinated. But he provoked society, he attacked society. He even argued for separation, a black United States and a white one, because there was never going to be equality and there was never even going to be dialogue. I thought that Malcom’s ideas were very relevant here in Brazil. Here, nothing came close to dialogue because the dictatorship implanted racial democracy as public policy, and various thinkers corroborated that philosophy. So what did we have? We didn’t have any thinkers to unmask that idea, we didn’t have anywhere to publish our ideas, we didn’t have space on TV to speak out, we didn’t have a radio station that would air us. We had a few newspapers, some pamphlets called Árvores das Palavras, and we would go out onto the streets distributing them to try to help black people see that what they were suffering wasn’t because they were incompetent, it wasn’t because they were less intelligent, it was because they had been inserted into this post-racist, post-slavery social structure.

Artememoria: In 1977 you published a manifesto about the discrimination against black women in the newspaper Versus entitled “Em defesa da dignidade das mulheres negras em uma sociedade racista” (“In Defense of the Dignity of Black Women in a Racist Society”). Was it this national and international context that led you to write that piece? 

Pereira: What led me to write that article is the fact that I really started to feel racism. It was very hard for me to get a job as a journalist, and I needed to work. I had been part of the counter-culture. When I discovered the hippie movement, I really identified with it because it was a movement about all kinds of freedom for young people. They had those beautiful clothes, amazing musicians, Woodstock. I started to go camping with friends on far off beaches and wore long colored skirts. We would date around because we were in favor of free love. But then I said no, I can’t keep following this movement because I have to work.

In Brazil, journalism is a white person’s profession. A profession for upper-middle-class white people. I would spend time with excellent journalists, but that wasn’t enough because I needed to make money. I got a job at the newspaper Diário Popular. I was thoroughly mistreated and was assigned the worst stories and the worst hours. Journalism in Brazil was, as it is today, an entirely unstable profession. When there were cuts, who was at the top of the list? I was. I moved from newspaper to newspaper, and it wasn’t possible to make a living. I went to local papers and worked in revision. I had a few extremely intelligent black friends who worked as editors, but because they were black, they weren’t able to work as reporters. All they could do was stay there, editing other journalists’ writing.

Once, the editor-in-chief and director of Diário Popular treated me extremely badly. I heard him say, “working at a newspaper isn’t for black people.” I told my dad about it, and he scheduled a meeting with the director. He said, “my daughter is an employee here, and in addition to working very hard, she does everything that the editors ask of her. She does not like that she is treated differently. She heard the editor-in-chief say that journalism isn’t for black people, and it’s not the first time she’s heard that.” And guess what happened. The boss said, “come on, that doesn’t exist! There’s no racism here. Look, let’s ask someone who knows us best. We really like her, she’s like family,” and he called over the black girl who cleaned and served coffee in the building, someone who I had barely spoken to before. ‘Isn’t that right? Girl, do you feel any sort of racism here?’ She said no. I don’t think she was even aware of what racism meant, you know? She was working for a boss who maybe treated her well, who paid her salary on time. My dad and I just looked at each other. That confirmed it.

They saw black women as domestic workers, prostitutes, or people who would serve you. So they would ask themselves, how could I, as a white person, me, as the owner of this newspaper, send this person out to cover a business meeting? How could I send her out to interview a doctor? I had a friend who was a photographer, one of the best, and he worked at Jornal da Tarde, the most revolutionary newspaper in the Brazilian press in the 70s. His name was Laércio and he kept his hair natural and wore sandals. He had to work on a piece about Erasmos Dias, who was a terror during the dictatorship. He was the man who invaded the Pontifical Catholic University. Laércio went with the team to report on the article. Erasmos Dias looked at the photographer and called the newspaper to say, how dare you send me this unkempt black person in sandals? Send him back.

It was in this context that I identified with the counter-culture aspect of the Black Panthers. I shared their socialist views, because I wanted to change society and was not in favor of capitalism, but I also saw the new aesthetic they had, the way they did their hair, wore leather jackets, celebrated the idea of black is beautiful, you know? It valued our culture. All of this went into my head when I was 18, 19, 20 years old. And all of it was new: I was discovering counterculture, the hippie movement, civil rights, resistance to the dictatorship here in Brazil, a movement that permeated all social classes. It involved action from the church, from the student movement, from the workers’ movement in São Bernardo. All of these sectors were struggling against the status quo, which was a state of exception that was arresting, killing, cornering everyone, that was censoring all of the art and writing. There were a range of independent leftist newspapers that were pushing against that and that worked to denounce the dictatorship’s arbitrary acts of violence. I thought, this is the kind of paper I need to work at. These are the people who I need to align myself with if I’m going to have a voice because I am a woman who is the target of a racist society.

Artememoria: What brought you to Versus specifically, and what the environment of that publication like? And, once in Versus, you came to develop your own insert for the newspaper called Afro Latino América. How did you organize that initiative?

Pereira: I started to take a look at the independent press, which had communist, socialist, Trotskyist, or anarchist editorial lines. They were the publications I identified with most. I went around to various leftist newspapers. I remember going to Opinião, to Movimento, and when I showed them my manifesto they wouldn’t take it. They said they didn’t want to raise a new issue that would divide the greater struggle, which was the class struggle and not the racial struggle. You’re bringing up two things that will divide the movement, they said, you’re bringing up race and gender. There are people on the left who think like that to this day.

I read Jornal da Tarde, which was a very liberal paper with excellent writers who had almost a literary approach to journalistic writing, and the editors of Versus were from Jornal da Tarde. Versus was a Trotskyist newspaper, but it was open to any journalism that had freedom of expression as its goal. It was an open-minded publication. So I brought my manifesto there, and I remember that Omar de Barros Filho, one of the editors who was most present in the newsroom because Marcão [Marcos Faerman] was always traveling, told me to leave it there and that they would read it. At least they kept the thing instead of sending me away with an apology. After three or four days they told me that they thought it was a great piece and that they were going to publish it. And they did publish it: an article written by a woman, discussing discrimination.

I want to be clear that I didn’t have a clear feminist vision when I was at Versus. I wrote the manifesto about discrimination against black women, something that I, as an individual, felt. I thought that other women would think, “I’m in the same position, I have a diploma and still I go through that, imagine what women who aren’t in that position must feel like? They must suffer more than I do.” I also wrote it because I was outraged. It was a way for me to vent about the way I felt treated in the world and why I refused to accept it. The interesting thing is that I went to a feminist newspaper and they didn’t accept the manifesto. The people who ended up accepting it were men. White, bourgeois, intellectual men from Rio Grande do Sul.

My feminism doesn’t come from Simone de Beauvoir, it comes from Angela Davis. She is almost my contemporary and, like me, she was thinking about racism. I broke through glass ceilings because I had to. I had to work, which meant working with others. I didn’t go to Versus to champion an ideological debate about gender. I didn’t have the time or the intellectual grounding to start that kind of discourse. I wanted them to give me space because black people needed to speak out. We needed to join the resistance movement that was growing in every sector of Brazilian society.

There was a writer at Versus, Oswaldo de Camargo, who worked in the newsroom along with Marcos Faerman. He said that he felt it was the moment for black people to speak out because, at that moment, every social group was unified in one common goal: to take down the dictatorship, the state of exception. Black people made up the only identity group that hadn’t organized. He talked about this in the newsroom, and thank the orishas, I walked in with my manifesto, my article. After that, I was always in the newsroom because I liked the environment. There was an influx of visual artists, writers, journalists, and musicians that came from all over Brazil. I stayed there, observing that space, and then the editors came to me and said: we want to give you space to work here with us. Do you know any black journalists? We want to give you guys stories. They didn’t know a single black journalist! I was the first black journalist that they had seen.

Versus was an intellectual, Trotskyist paper, so I had to find black writers in line with the publication’s philosophy. I remember going to Hamilton Bernardes Cardoso, a poet who made a living reciting his poetry in bars. I found him at the University of São Paulo and said, “Hamilton, let’s go do this, they’re going to give us space.” And he said, “Ah, Neusa, I’m not going there. With white people, when you get there, you actually can’t do anything.” I managed to convince him: “let’s at least try, these guys are giving us an opportunity. They’re going to give us four pages of the paper, the last four pages for us to talk about our concerns as black people.”

So I called up these friends and they agreed, and that’s how the Afro Latino América supplement was born. We made sure the name would incorporate Africa, Latin America, and North America. We would look at revolutionary movements in Brazil, Latin America, the United States, and Africa from a black perspective. The newspaper approached Latin America as a whole. Eduardo Galeano would frequent the newsroom and all Latin American writers had a voice in the paper. We were Trotskyists and what is Trotsky’s central philosophy? Permanent revolution. Trotsky said that socialism will never succeed unless it spreads globally.

Versus was key to my intellectual and political education. I had access to so many books there. I read Dostoyevsky, The Insulted and Humiliated, which changed the way I thought about the world. I discovered Frantz Fanon, who was maybe the first black psychiatrist who discussed the psychological consequences of racism, not only for black people, but also for white people. It was because of the Black Panthers that I was able to reach the conclusion of my blackness, and my blackness was made up of black literature. I became an urban woman. I had this desire within me to explore the world, to discover the transformative power of human thought, one that sought to change the society in which I found it so hard to circulate, to act in a profession for which I had all of the requirements. When I went to the independent press, my goal wasn’t to start a fight. It was to take a stance, to speak out about what the official press wouldn’t publish. When you want to fight a system, you need to have another one to put in its place, and what did we want to put in its place? Something that we thought was more just, that would give more opportunities to people, that was less racist, that was more tolerant, that understood difference, that would create a new Brazil, that would expand our knowledge on an international scale, that would create an exchange of knowledge. If that’s what socialism means, then I’m a socialist.

Artememoria: You were arguing for all of these changes in the context of a military dictatorship. How did you manage to communicate openly about these issues while the dictatorial regime was in power? 

Pereira: Our goal was to end the dictatorship. We managed to do it, and we were persecuted, but we resisted. What I always say is that if you, in your internal ideology, manage to see and reject the inequality that exists in the world, then you have to act. It can’t just be discourse.

When I started at Versus I almost joined the Liga Operária.2 I was a member of the convergência socialista,3 I was in a cell of the convergência, which is why there was a file on me at the Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS). Beyond working at a leftist newspaper, they followed me because I was part of a cell associated with the socialist party. We were already being watched, but they really started to persecute us after we organized the public demonstration against racial discrimination. The regime said, ‘they’re bringing up an issue that doesn’t exist, they’re trying to disrupt public order.’ We denounced things that had never been openly discussed before.

Artememoria: Let’s turn to that public demonstration against racial discrimination in 1978. Can you describe how all of these ideas came together in that moment, leading to the formation of the Unified Black Movement in Brazil?

Pereira: The Unified Black Movement started within Versus. Afro Latino América woke young black people up to the fact that they didn’t have a voice, people who wanted the same things that we, young black journalists, wanted at the time. The white people from the paper had never seen so many black people inside the newsroom. It was a constant flux of young black people in and out of the building. There, we had an opening, a space to discuss everything.

Then a policeman killed a black worker, Robson Silveira da Luz. And there were four black athletes who were discriminated against in Clube Tietê. They weren’t allowed to enter the athletic club because of an idea that black people couldn’t go in the pool because their skin would infect the water. Versus was our bunker, and we on the left decided it was time to do something. It wasn’t enough to just write about it, because the paper had a limited circulation. It was sold in newsstands, the audience was white and intellectual. Our black audience was also intellectual. It wasn’t a newspaper of the masses in urban peripheries.

neusa maria pereira municipal theater sp movimento negro 1978
Neusa Maria Pereira speaks on the steps of the Municipal Theater in São Paulo during the public demonstration against racial discrimination in 1978. Photo by Rosa Gauditano. Used with Permission.

I think it was the first public demonstration against racial discrimination in Brazil that had an international response. Why? We were with white people. We were part of a multiracial organization. We were black journalists and white journalists, and the white journalists were from a major paper, Jornal da Tarde, and had international contacts. They told those contacts about the event. More than two thousand people were present at a demonstration on a weekday afternoon. Milton Barbosa, an activist who worked with black communities, Jamu Minka, and I went out onto the streets. In addition to guiding the demonstration intellectually, we had to write the articles that would be published on that day. We were able to get black organizations to support the demonstration, even though they were afraid. Speaking in any way made us a target during the dictatorship. Imagine going out onto the streets in the middle of São Paulo, with the DOPS right there next to Luz Station, where they were arresting people, killing people, and beating everyone up. Even though the black organizations were not leftist organizations, we managed to convince them to support our movement because it would be very important for black people. We printed pamphlets and distributed them at bus stations. We chose a location for the march where black people were used to meeting, in front of the Municipal Theater. There, every Friday, black people would come together there, everyone, the kids who were starting to get information about black music. For them, that place was already known.

It was bombastic. It was historic. The theater was hosting a big opera that day, and perfumed white people were leaving in their fancy cars, stepping on our signs, but it was wonderful because participants in the demonstration came from all over the state. People from the black movement from the entire state of São Paulo found ways to get there that day. Lélia Gonzalez was there, Abdias do Nascimento, Hamilton Bernardes Cardoso, all of the Versus team, international journalists, students, workers, and we spoke for hours, talking about all of the issues that were impeding our social, economic, and psychological process.

Artememoria: If you had to summarize, what was the Unified Black Movement’s goal in that first, incipient moment?

Pereira: To rediscover our true history. To demystify what official history said about us, for us to see ourselves as producers of knowledge, as beings capable of social transformation, and, above all, to expose the fact that Brazil was not a racial democracy. Much to the contrary, it was one of the most racist countries in the world, if not the most racist.

That is why we went out onto the streets. We went to expose the dictatorship, whatever the consequence. We went to question official history. Our liberator is not Princess Isabel because we’ve been fighting for our freedom since the moment we were put onto the first slave ship. We do not compromise. Our liberator is Zumbi, Zumbi dos Palmares! He established Brazil’s first socialist republic where black, white, and indigenous people lived together with common goals. Like us, he rejected the status quo of his moment. We also wanted to reject the status quo of our moment, refuting all that we had been taught in school about how black people are lazy, how black people aren’t smart. What had we done in our pages in Versus? We started to highlight black artists, we started to rediscover and rewrite society, thinking of a new society with participation from black people. We started to value Afro-Brazilian religions, we started to frame Zumbi as our hero, we started to talk about diversity quotas, we started to write about black workers who fought for labor rights. I wrote a story about that, called “Tião Tião.” The working class had so many black people that official history does not show.

Racism is a psychological and educational issue. Changing a political system will not end racism. But, at the time, we needed change to an open government in which you could say that racism exists, in which the state will revisit education. You have to show people that the black person is someone who thinks, who contributes to the social development of humanity. You need an education that revises the way in which history is told, that revises our values.

Artememoria: How do you see recent political events in Brazil in light of the history that you just laid out?

Pereira: In the 1970s, we went onto the streets because one black person was killed. How many are killed today? So many, because it is a way to end the black male population, to kill black men or put them in jail. Mass incarceration mostly affects black and mixed race people in Brazil, and society will not accept you if you are an ex-con. If people with PhDs can’t find jobs in Brazil, imagine someone who just got out of jail, with all of the stigma tied to that condition.

The shift to the far right in Brazil happened just when we started to see changes. Where did those changes come from? From social movements that began to make demands. They wanted a more equal society with more opportunities for education and work, with quality universal health care. They started to recognize the importance of environmental preservation in a still non-industrial, developing world context in which we still depend on the environment so heavily.

Artememoria: What does your activism look like in this new context? Do you have any advice to pass along to someone who is in social movements in the current moment, struggling against the immense challenges that Brazil faces?

Pereira: Something I always say is that the revolution starts within you. What I demand is education. I demand schools that are open the entire day, where materials, food, and extra curricular programming are provided. I demand that businesses provide language study to their employees and leave a few spots open for those who are not in their company. I demand universal health care.

Right now, I organize a publication called Escrita Feminina. We’ve only published one issue of this paper for women who are in Class C and nearly Class B4 and who live in the periphery. We talk about the needs of these women. I also give lectures and work with neighborhoods to make demands. For example, in the neighborhood where I live, we need more doctors to work in the clinics. We need our bus stations to be covered for the rain, because when you live in that part of the periphery, they put a covered bus station on one side of the street and not the other. I’ve worked on education at the CASA Foundation,5 where I taught classes that value our culture and show students the racism that they didn’t even realize was happening, because it happened inside of them.

escrita feminina neusa maria pereira
Neusa Maria Pereira holds a copy of the initiative Escrita Feminina, a publication for and about black women published by Abayomi Communications.

Under the dictatorship, we came to the conclusion that we needed to be out on the streets. Writing isn’t enough. As a friend of mine once said, everyone writes. I want you up in arms, I want you organizing a protest, I want to see you occupying space. We came together and, in addition to our intellectualized motives, we made sure to have a concrete reason to do so. For us, that reason was the death of the black worker and discrimination against the athletes. So we came together with core demands because things like killing young boys will only change if society changes. These were our concrete reasons for going to the streets.

When I was brought up, black people were made out to be victims, but they were also made to feel guilty for being black. We showed our pride. We do not have any shame in saying that we have suffered from racism and that we are discriminated against. And today, our struggle continues.

Neusa Maria Pereira is a Brazilian journalist and educator. After graduating from the Cásper Líbero University in São Paulo, she worked as a journalist for major media outlets as well as for the newspaper Versus, an important publication in the alternative press under Brazil’s military dictatorship. She was part of the circle that founded the country’s Unified Black Movement and has also mobilized black women through various other groups. Currently, Neusa Maria Pereira directs the publisher Abayomi Communications, which she founded, and continues to fight for the rights of black Brazilians through educational initiatives.

  1. Machadiano: a scholar of the works of famed black Brazilian author Machado de Assis. See:
  2. Liga Operária: a socialist and Trotskyist worker’s organization that existed in Brazil from 1972-1978.
  3. Convergência socialista: a Trotsykist organization that existed in Brazil from 1978 to 1992.
  4. Class C and B are categories in Brazil’s socioeconomic class system defined by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. In terms of access to education, members of Class C have generally finished high school and even some technical training; members of Class B have attended university. For more, see:
  5. CASA Foundation: refers to the Centro de Atendimento Socioeducativo ao Adolescente. For more, see:

Ivone Benedetti

A writer who lived through Brazil’s military dictatorship discusses her process writing a novel that represents the period decades later


What does it mean to live through a period of state violence – and then write about it from a distance? Ivone Benedetti’s 2016 novel Cabo de Guerra (Tug of War) represents what happened during Brazil’s military dictatorship through a male narrator who, in 2009, deliriously looks back on his experiences as a double agent for the leftist resistance and the repressive State during the dictatorial period. Here, Benedetti speaks with Artememoria about her experience writing that book as someone who experienced the dictatorship firsthand. The resulting conversation about issues ranging from political memory to religion to gender in first-person narration is key to understand representing histories of violence through fiction.

Artememoria: One impressive quality of your novel Cabo de Guerra (Tug of War) is the way in which the book approaches time. The narrative includes the beginning of the dictatorial regime and stretches all the way through the period of amnesty, and then it also takes on the memories of that era in the 21st century. How did you get the idea to write about the military dictatorship with such a vast scope?

Ivone Benedetti: The book actually deals with two moments in time. There is time in the present, which takes place over three days, and then there is the character’s memory, which stretches from 1969-1984 and contains the majority of the action. In a sense, this was a way for me to express something that existed inside of me as memory. I lived through the period of military rule; the 1964 coup happened when I was seventeen years old and I started college at the height of it all. And then all of those years passed until 2009, which is when the narrator remembers the dictatorship.

Writing about that period was something that I always wanted to do. I wanted to and was afraid to at the same time. Even though the book has a lot of my memories and experiences, I also separated myself, as an author, from what takes place. I use the intermediary of a first-person male narrator who remembers what he experienced, and that’s what distances me from the plot. Maybe this indirect way of discussing the period represents the ambiguous relationship I have to that moment in time, a relationship of both attraction and avoidance.

I think that what we are experiencing now is a more frenetic continuation of the military dictatorship that lasted from 1964-1985. If I had written the novel now, it might be very different.

Artememoria: The fragmentation between the two moments in time, 2009 and the dictatorship, is an important aspect of the text. Often, memory triggers, like images, sounds, and smells, are what inspire the transitions between the text’s two temporalities. Did you source these physical traces of the dictatorship period in the text vestiges of your own memories?

Benedetti: Cities live in our memories. We have a geography of memory that differs from physical geography. You feel that when you visit a place that you know really well. You get there and see that some buildings have been demolished and others have been built in their place, but inside your mind the city is how it was before. You ask yourself that old, poetic, philosophical question: where did it all go?

When I was writing this book, the sounds, the smells, the environment of the city from that time arose within me. If you look closely at the text, the events in São Paulo all take place in a small section of the city, which is more or less central, and runs roughly from Vila Buarque to Maria Antônia Street. I have so many memories from that part of the city. The part about the popcorn man is true, for example. He really existed. The tram tracks that went to Liberdade Avenue were really getting torn up. It was a moment when the city tram system was being phased out as part of the modernization project that the military was trying to do at the time. The huge influx of cars into the city, of gasoline, that was all part of pulling out all of the city trams. It was almost a vision of the apocalypse. Wherever you went, all of the streets were ripped up, cobblestone streets pitted, metal tracks resting against walls after having been pulled from the ground. These were the sorts of fragments that I began putting together in the book.

Artememoria: How did you go about structuring the various fragments, both in terms of memories and the fictional components? What were some of your major decisions as an author?

Benedetti: I often say that the most difficult thing for me is to find the tone of a book. It’s like how a musician who composes music has to choose the key in which he will write the song. This is the same thing. The book started out in third person. I knew that there would be a man who would witness an event by accident, and that he would use that to blackmail someone. From that start the events that happened in Santos started arising, the fact that a soldier was involved. After writing for a while in third person, I realized that it wouldn’t work because I wanted to enter the intimate thoughts of the narrator. I needed to use first person.

When I started writing in first person. I began to worry if I would know how to write in first person from a male perspective. I began to situate the character, thinking, this is a guy who isn’t from São Paulo, and then the great idea of using my husband’s experiences came to me. The region where the character is from is where my husband is from. For years, my husband would wake up and say, “I dreamed about Nazaré.” He would tell me, “Nazaré is a magical city, Nazaré had haunted factories, in Nazaré there was a train that went up a hillside, but it couldn’t make it up so it had to come back down and then build up speed in order to go up the slope.” I would ask him why he didn’t write about it, and he said he someday would. He never did, and so I told him that I would. I absorbed all of Nazaré from him.

In Bahia there was a lot of immigration from Spain, so I added a Spanish grandfather and former priest, which began forming the aspect of the novel that deals with religion. That’s a very important part of the book. It is the mystical and metaphysical dimension that underlies the text, which is something people often don’t notice.

Artememoria: That religious dimension also has an interesting parallel to the political themes at hand. In the same way that the narrator has flashbacks to the past, he hallucinates more religious, mystical images.

Benedetti: Exactly. There’s an issue of ambiguity at hand, of how certain things are indecipherable.

Artememoria: It’s an interesting choice to use such an unreliable narrator, in fact. The main character is not the typical protagonist of the military dictatorship, regardless of whether you are leftwing or rightwing in Brazil. He isn’t a hero, he isn’t brave. He is weak and has serious mental health problems. Why did you choose such an ambiguous, untrustworthy narrator?

Benedetti: That ambiguity, that lack of clear-cut decisions, is very specific to Brazil. To be clear, I don’t mean that this character is a typical Brazilian, but rather that the confusion he experiences is our nation’s confusion.

During the dictatorship, I lived in a student bubble with grand revolutionary aspirations. Countless friends of mine joined the guerilla resistance and died. I chose not to join. I knew that I wasn’t made for that, but so many people went, brilliant people who, had they lived in a freer, less tumultuous moment, would have contributed so much to the development of this country. However, we were living an optical illusion. That bubble was much smaller than we thought it was. So much of the country was unaware of what was going on, in part because of censorship, and in part because of support for the regime.

You may have noticed that there is a tendency in Brazil to accept or even wish for strongman regimes. There is a video in which Christian Dunker analyzes this fact. He says that Brazilians desire these strongman systems because they feel that our institutions do not work. They think that democracy makes institutions lax, and so they want someone to set up a tight-fisted regime that will force everything to work. That’s his analysis. I think it goes even deeper. I think that religion, for many sectors of Brazilian society, ends up being a way to delegate responsibility to a higher power. Brazilians are not the agent in their own stories. A higher power resolves all of the problems in their lives, down to the simplest things, like a bus coming on time.

Artememoria: That notion is certainly present in the novel. The main character needs religion in order to chart out a path as his mental health deteriorates.

Benedetti: But he’s also dense. For example, when he leaves the Praça da Sé, he remembers a passage from John in which Jesus argues with a priest, and both accuse the other of being the Devil. The narrator had just had a conversation with a policeman, and it’s at that precise moment that the passage he and his grandfather had talked about comes back to him. But he’s incapable of understanding why, he’s incapable of understanding anything. It’s too complex.

Artememoria: Let’s turn to the choice to use a male perspective. Even though that choice distances you as an author from the plot of the novel, there are a few interesting moments in which the reader can tell that the writer is a woman, specifically in how the female characters in the text are represented as complex and vivid characters who constantly surprise the sexist, male narrator. How was your experience of writing women through the male eye?

Benedetti: I was outside of the female perspective, writing the women through the male point of view. Do you think my construction of the female characters was artificial?

Artememoria: No, it was very much within the male point of view. The narrator, even the women, form a very sexist lens, like when he sexualizes Samira as she expresses her pain. That’s something that a typical, uncritical male character would definitely do. But, at the same time, details arise that most male authors would often fail to note, like the fact that Samira doesn’t orgasm during sex.

Benedetti: I’ve noticed that. A lot of male authors replicate this idea of their own sexual prowess, their ability to make a woman have amazing orgasms. Female characters written by men can be orgasm machines.

Artememoria: So when you wrote the actions of women in the book, were you just thinking about how women would act in that context?

Benedetti: Yes, I was. On the other hand, for the male side of things, I was often unsure. Would a man act like that? But I had my consultant, my husband. We would have long conversations about how the narrator would react in a given moment. One thing I had a lot of fun with was writing the scene when he meets Jandira, who had just gotten promoted. He’s pissed off, because she suddenly has higher status than he does, and so when he goes out with her he makes a point of checking out other women and not sleeping with her. In a way, he’s trying to maintain his power in the relationship, but he ends up regretting it the next day, since he didn’t get any. It was fun to write because I really do know men who act like that.

Artememoria: Did you have any important literary influences that affected the way you constructed these characters or the way you wrote about the military dictatorship more generally?

Benedetti: I wasn’t reading anything at the time. It was very hard to write this book, and I took a deep dive into this unconventional character, psychologically speaking. There was definitely some long-term influence from Russian authors like Dostoevsky, but that was just an echo of my past reading.

Artememoria: At the beginning of this conversation, you mentioned if you were writing this novel now, it might be a very different book. And, in fact, you begin one of the novel’s chapters by discussing the intertwined relationship between past and present: “On this morning in 2009, it reality hits me: this story is forty years old. It’s in the past. Or it should be. Because the past that never happened just won’t go away, it stays on to torment you, demanding to be called the present, occupying closets, chairs, always there, always here.” How is the military dictatorship occupying space in the current political moment?

Benedetti: The past is always affected by the present. It should be the opposite. The present is a continuity of the past, but at the moment that you start dealing with the past, it changes based on the moment that you are currently experiencing. That is essential. When I wrote this in 2009, it seemed as though democracy was consolidating in Brazil. A regressive shift to an authoritarian system wasn’t on the horizon. But after 2009, and specifically during the political shift from 2014-2019, it has been crucial to revisit memories of the past in order to understand what is happening at a national level.

Some small details of the book, like the conversation between the narrator and his handler at the end of the amnesty process, are aspects of the text I would develop further. It’s because of that moment that there are such grave continuities with the dictatorship. There was never a cathartic break in the system. In fact, a lot of the figures from the 1964-1985 military dictatorship are long-term character types in Brazilian history. Since there were never any real ruptures, figures in Brazil pass from one period to the next. In 1964, you had actors who were also active in the 1930s [during the Estado Novo dictatorship]. From 1964 to the 21st century, you also have continuity because there was never a real rupture. The president just ordered the military to celebrate the day of the coup. This resurgence of the past, which has now appeared with force, wasn’t on the horizon in 2009. But I always thought it could return, and today, I still know that it could happen again..

Ivone Benedetti is a novelist, literary translator, and academic from São Paulo. She received her PhD in literature from the University of São Paulo and has translated authors such as Umberto Eco, Mario Vargas Llosa, Leonardo Padura, Michel Foucault, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Her debut novel Immaculada (Immaculate) was a finalist for the São Paulo Prize for Literature in 2010, and, in 2011, she released a book of short stories entitled Tenho um cavalo alfaraz (I Have a Nimble Horse). In addition to her fiction, Benedetti has published a variety of books about the craft of translation.

Adriana Lisboa

The author of Azul Corvo (Crow Blue) discusses writing female characters and dictatorship memory from a transnational perspective


For Adriana Lisboa, feminism and politics are not an intentional part of her literary project. And yet, while exploring affective relationships, journeys, and personal transformation, the contemporary novelist writes narratives driven by independent female characters that explore the political contexts of Brazil and the United States. One of her books, Azul Corvo (Crow Blue), published in 2014, follows a young teenage girl who travels from Brazil to Colorado alone. Displaced from her home, culture, and language, she meets a former member of the armed guerilla resistance during Brazil’s military dictatorship, who provides a new lens on her country of origin. In this interview, Lisboa speaks to Artememoria about the relationship between politics and the personal and how writing gender and dictatorship has changed in recent decades, all in the context of her uniquely transnational perspective.

Artememoria: Can you speak to the experience of writing so many independent female characters in Azul Corvo? Was focusing on female characters one of ideas behind the book, or did that dimension of the work arise as you were writing?

Adriana Lisboa: Ever since I published my first novel twenty years ago, the question of female characters was always central for me. Not necessarily in the sense of me championing a cause, because it was never a political project. I started writing female characters because of my own experiences as a woman. I don’t write auto-fiction and I don’t intend to, but I do think that my experience of motherhood, of the relationship between mother and child, is very interesting to explore in fiction. The question of female autonomy is also very present, perhaps because I grew up at a moment when my family transitioned from women who were not autonomous to women who managed to become autonomous. That stays with me. In a sense, I am always creating a single mother or a daughter who travels alone to another country. There is some sort of cry for independence in almost all of my novels, but effective relationships rather than a specific political goal are what interests me in fiction.

Artememoria: Those relationships are certainly interesting, also in terms of the different historical moments you explore in your novels. Many of your books are contemporary, but Azul Corvo has a plot that spans across generations. Do you think that the characters in that novel reflect a specific moment for feminism?

Lisboa: That’s interesting, because I was born in 1970. I grew up and spent my teen and adult years in a generation that didn’t discuss feminism very much. It’s as though my generation – and I mean that concept of generation in a very narrow sense – saw feminism as something that had already happened, which was incorrect, of course. When I published Sinfonia em Branco (Symphony in White), which in my opinion is my most feminist novel, that dimension of the text was hardly discussed. Beatriz Rezende, a critic who explores feminism in literature, was one of the few people who did comment on it, but other critics did not read the book from that lens.

Feminism and the memory of dictatorship can actually both be explored simultaneously. When I started writing and publishing books, both were seen as issues of the past. There was an idea that we needed to turn the page and begin a new generation. And now, we suddenly saw the world turn upside down as so many countries in the world regressed, perhaps following the path of the United States. I think that Trump’s election opened up a Pandora’s box, and we saw other leaders come to power since. However, the issues of feminism and historical memory have returned to the spotlight after remaining buried and hushed for so many years

It’s interesting to see how so many women writers define themselves as feminists today. If you go on Mídia Ninja and read the columns, almost all of the female writers begin by saying they are feminists. Ten years ago, that wouldn’t have happened. Brazilian women who were intellectuals, writers, and artists didn’t define themselves as feminists, maybe because it would have sounded a bit passé if they had. “What is that woman doing? Does she think she’s in 1960?” it was a different time. Suddenly, this topic becomes prominent in a very affirmative way. That is a change that I’ve seen over my twenty-year career. Feminism has returned and assumed a central role, alongside historical memory, especially in terms of dictatorship memory. It’s as though our context has demanded that shift.

Artememoria: Yes, there is certainly an immediate relevance to the historical memory of the dictatorship in the present moment. Interestingly, though, you wrote Azul Corvo at a moment when its relevance wasn’t immediately apparent, when it wasn’t a popular topic. Why did you choose to make one character a former member of the guerilla resistance when you were writing the book?

Lisboa: Azul Corvo was the first novel I wrote after having moved to the United States. It was my first experience as an immigrant while I was a writer. I had lived outside of Brazil as a teenager, but I of course wasn’t writing professionally at that point. The novel was a milestone in my personal trajectory. It marked the moment in which I arrived in a new country and saw everything through the eyes of someone who understands almost nothing and who, at the same time, looks back in an effort to understand what is no longer their everyday reality. It was a limbo of sorts, and that’s why I made the narrator, Vanja, a teenager. I think of adolescence as a kind of limbo between childhood and adulthood, a gray zone, a bit undefined.

Since Vanja looks back to the country she left behind, I wanted her to have a dialogue with another character who could explain what that country was. She might not have really understood Brazil, just as a lot of people from her generation didn’t. That was the case for me. I went to school in the 1970s and 1980s. So much of my official education happened under the dictatorship. We learned very little in terms of critical thinking. We didn’t have philosophy classes and, because of censorship, the national history that we were taught was very constrained and scripted. Vanja is heir to all of that. When she arrives in a new place and looks back to see what exactly she had left behind, she needs a kind of translator, you could say. That’s Fernando, who is the polar opposite of not knowing. He’s a character who had physically been there, who knows about everything, who even knows more than he’d have wanted to know. He was so involved that he ends up isolating himself, fleeing in the name of self-preservation.

For me, writing about that period was a way of settling the score with myself, with my own education, and with the way I had been raised. I am from a middle class family, one that wasn’t a family of activists against the system, even though it was by no means right-wing. I studied in a Catholic school in Rio de Janeiro. When I started thinking about Azul Corvo and how I would return to that time in history, I realized that the guerilla movement in Araguaia was almost a myth. It was rarely discussed, badly explored, and history books hardly discussed that specific guerilla movement. Because of the lack of references to Araguaia, especially in fiction, I decided to go back to that particular moment in the past, which was something that happened right around the time I was born, in fact.

Artememoria: A few issues you bring up here are actually key to the question of how to build collective memory. You learned about something you did not directly experience, even though you were in the country. It is a memory, but it is a bit distant. That notion is especially present in Vanja’s character. She’s young enough to experience “post-memory” – memory that is passed down from earlier generations. When you wrote this kind of distanced memory, how did you go about researching the topic in order to represent it?

Lisboa: I was lucky enough to meet a journalist named Taís Morais, who wrote a book that was an essential reference for me. She and Eumano Silva wrote Operação Araguaia (Operation Araguaia), which launched right at the moment I began writing Azul Corvo. It’s a historical book, a nonfiction investigation, but it reads like a novel. It has a kind of journalistic rendering of events that is very detailed and very well done. It’s an account of what the guerilla movement was, how it started, and what happened afterwards. Taís Morais had access to all of the files that the military had released up until that point. I sought Taís out, we chatted and sent some messages back and forth, and I ended up basing one of my characters on a real person. He was someone who didn’t leave Brazil, but ran away, deserting the guerillas, and to this day doesn’t want to discuss what happened because of deeply engrained fear. I think these things are always complex, and I tried to make that appear in my construction of Fernando, too, a character who escapes to save his own skin, but who leaves a lot behind in the process. He leaves behind his ideological commitment, his ethics, and love. Taís read Azul Corvo after I had written it to see if I had rendered the period well.

Artememoria: Let’s return to a topic that you mentioned earlier. You said that the book is centered on a kind of limbo, an in-between. Another closely related theme is the question of a search for identity. Almost every character seems to be searching for something, sometimes something that disappeared, and often that search is very specific, personal, and internal. How do these individual searches tied to identity relate to the more political dimensions of the book, such as dictatorship and feminism? 

Lisboa: I think that political life and personal life can only be separated in the abstract. How is it possible to be apolitical? People say that they don’t like to talk politics, but how can you not exist in the world? Everything that happens politically relates to each of us on the most miniscule level of our lives. A decision in Washington affects health care, which affects if people can go to the doctor, buy medicine, and take care of their family. There isn’t that distance that so often seems to exist, as though our personal issues were somehow in opposition to a political collective.

The searches my characters embark on are very personal, as you said. These searches are fundamentally seeking a place, not necessarily a geographical place, but rather an affective place. A home in the sense of affection, not romantic affection but that of family and close friends. The characters are seeking that place, and everything in this world is relevant to their search for identity. It’s as though the macro, or the collective, and the micro, or the individual, are always in exchange, constantly communicating across a porous border.

Artememoria: The search for this abstract, affective place is set in a geographical in-between, in the immigrant experience to a new country. As an author, you also occupy that limbo between Brazil and the United States. Do you look to Brazil or the United States when you write novels that are set between the two countries? What are your literary influences for writing these transnational novels?

Lisboa: That’s a question that has always been difficult for me to answer, since for every project I don’t know whether it is my choice of reading that came first, influencing my literary project, or if it is the project that influences the reading.

But this idea of spatial displacement has been with me for many years and began with my novel Rakushisha (Hut of Fallen Persimmons). The starting point of the novel is a trip that the poet Basho took through Japan 400 years ago. I found Basho’s travel diaries from when he traveled by foot through Japan. The diaries are beautiful and I got very interested in fictionally working the diaries into a book. Rakushisha is about a trip to Japan, and ever since, the theme of displacement has been with me, growing more profound in every novel. The first novel on this theme is simply about a trip to Japan in search of the poet’s memory. Azul Corvo came next, and it’s another trip, but one that involves the theme of migration, the question of what it means to be an immigrant when you are in a comfortable situation versus when you don’t have the legal permission to be where you are. It also involves a journey to the past, that act of looking back towards the historical past of the country that was left behind.

Influences come from the most unexpected sources, you know? Reading a Japanese poet from 400 years ago generated ideas that I have explored for twelve years. Voyages and migration are very important themes for me in increasingly sophisticated ways. In my new novel, I even talk about animal migration: the living body of either human or animal that moves and what that means, what that represents.

Artememoria: How does the current political context in the United States influence your approach to the theme of immigration?

Lisboa: I see migration as a consequence of certain issues that maybe don’t seem so urgent. For example, issues related to ecology are being ignored, as well as actively dismantled, by the current administration. Once again, we know that there are huge repercussions throughout the world. Climate change and the effects of climate change will likely result in groups of people who have to leave their home countries because of natural disasters. Once again, we see how certain political decisions have personal consequences at an individual scale. And this is a global problem, not something limited to the US or Brazil.

Another issue tied to living in the United States is seeing the US ordering or carrying out wars under completely pro forma justifications and then watching as refugees that these wars have generated try to reach Europe, simply in order to live. They want to get to a place where they can have the basic minimum of existence. All of this used to be very circumstantial, but the events are becoming epidemic rather than endemic. They’re no longer issues that relate to a specific society, to a country. Now, they relate to the entire world. I have been reflecting on the question of migration in that sense, and exploring how our presence and decisions as humans on the planet don’t only affect us, but other species: there are a variety of animal species that will also suffer the consequences of our decisions.

Artememoria: Your work traverses borders – between countries, languages, species. However, not everyone looks across borders in the same way. While many people in Brazil look towards the United States as a result of global, imperialistic power structures, few people in the United States look towards Brazil. When they do, it is often because of a very specific situation, like the Rio 2016 Olympics. In this context, when you write books that move between Brazil and the US, how do North American readers receive the content about Brazil?

Lisboa: It’s usually a big surprise for readers. Generally speaking, people in the US don’t read very much translated literature. Brazil is very distant. It might conjure up some associations, maybe people think a bit about nature or about the violence that gets on the news. The elections last year were very peripheral in terms of news coverage here. There are some news outlets that covered it, like Democracy Now! and Glenn Greenwald, a journalist who consistently speaks about Brazil, but mainstream media, highly educated people, and people who could be considered leftists didn’t really grasp what was going on.

When Azul Corvo came out, I had the chance to do some readings. When I wasn’t in academic environments with people who already studied these issues, readers were really surprised. They said, oh my god, there was a communist guerilla movement in the Amazon rainforest? That’s so exotic. Everything was taken as a bit surreal, supernatural. Brazil is far into the periphery, especially in terms of our literature.

Artememoria: Zooming out, how do you see the role of memory in your overall work?

Lisboa: Lately I’ve been reading about the Buddhist concept of time, which differs from the concept in western philosophy. In the west, time is a continuum. Past reaches the present and the present evolves into the future. In certain eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, time is only the present. Past and future exist only as components of that present. There isn’t anything that you could call the past or anything that you could call the future without recognizing that these two concepts are contingent on the present.

I have always tried to work with the idea of memory in what I write. Because it is a component of the present, memory is a way of giving body and substance to the present. In that sense, my characters are who they are and do what they do because of a past, because of memory, a kind of memory that is relevant to their present-day lives.

Adriana Lisboa is a writer from Rio de Janeiro who publishes fiction, poetry, short stories, and books for children. Her novel Sinfonia em branco (Symphony in White) won the José Saramago Award, and her novel Azul Corvo (Crow Blue) was chosen as a book of the year by The Independent. A widely translated author, Lisboa has work published in over twenty countries, and her poems and short stories have appeared in a range of publications including Modern Poetry in Translation, Asymptote Journal, and Granta. Lisboa received her PhD in Comparative Literature at the State University of Rio de Janeiro and has been a visiting scholar at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, at the University of Texas at Austin, and at the University of New Mexico, as well as writer in residence at the University of California Berkeley. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.



By Vilma Arêas

De Vilma Arêas


/ /

In this experimental short story from her award-winning collection Trouxa frouxa, Vilma Arêas takes us back to the period of the military dictatorship, into the mind of a woman who searches frantically through Brazilian bureaucracy for someone held and hurt just out of reach. Through her, we glimpse the Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS), the Army Police (PE); with her, we seek help at the Episcopal Conference of Brazil (CNBB). We feel the futility and violence of paperwork. Brought to us in English for the first time by translator Adi Gold, Arêas’s “Archive” is a document of dictatorship that refuses to forget.


On February 26 of 1975 he left for work and disappeared into the air, car and all. She made the rounds of hospitals, morgue, police stations. Why do you think he’s here, ma’am? Is he a delinquent? Ma’am do you know anything? Are you his wife? Oh, you live together. That’s a different story. I bet he’s out on a bender. Nobody’s made of stone and there’s plenty of women left. There sure are. Take it easy, he’ll have enough and come back. A contact at DOPS on the second day. Call tomorrow at the same time. What’s the name again? Last name? Can you describe his features? There was a bug clicking on the other side of the line. She called. I verified everything, ma’am, he’s not at DOPS, they must have taken him to PE. Tough luck, huh? Looking for the judge on the third day. Come along with me, his honor knows people. Calm down, sweetheart, nothing’s going to happen. I know politicians. You’ll see, your husband, he walks a straight line, he’s a friend of mine. It’s hot as hell today, let’s wait for it to cool off. Have you seen me play the organ? I’m no Guenther Brausinger, but… Toccata in C minor, how beautifully shines the morning star (the voice of a spent baritone). And the largo, oh, the largo, the bridal procession from Lohengrin. Or do you prefer the Funeral March? Great God, we praise Thee… But what is this, my flower, why are you crying? I can’t concentrate like this. CNBB on the fourth day. The secretary interrupts her typing, raises her head: another missing person report? This is too much. Fill out the form, explain what happened. Dom Ivo went to confer with Geisel and would be back at any moment. The plane was late, one woman says. She begins to speak with others in the room. All with relatives missing for different lengths of time, two years, two months, two days. She fills out the form, her heart blanched, leaves, asks an officer to bring the car out please. Her vision dimming. Arm in arm with the judge, who walks unsteadily down the ministry hall. The colonel polite to a fault. Today is Friday, nothing can get done. An English work week. She brought a bag with chocolates, medicine, cheese. But what is it, then, that he did? I mean, in terms of subversion. Nothing? Look, how can you be his wife and not know anything? But sir will you have the bag delivered? I will. And a note? Could I send a note? You could. The judge’s chauffeur opens the door of the Cadillac. Damnit, I forgot cigarettes, I forgot the cigarettes, what kind of a woman am I, how could I forget cigarettes of all things? In the afternoon the judge makes an invitation. Shall we go to Colombo? Later we’ll speak with Vitorino Freire. At the restaurant he does not introduce her to acquaintances, complicit looks, not bad, your honor. On the tenth day the Jornal do Brasil confirms an arrest, with the first and last name. She reads the name printed on the page a thousand times, letter by letter, suffering. The name she had written on her breast. She clips the paper, pastes it in her calendar. She invites friends to celebrate, they drink whiskey and look at Sugarloaf from the window. So that’s to say they don’t kill anymore. They get drunk. Only by chance, if they happen to make a mistake during torture. In fifteen days, the lawyer calls. I’m going there to see a prisoner, if he’s not very injured you can see him, too. The lawyer goes in, comes out again with a captain, laughing. Not today, maybe next week, we’ll schedule it later. She clings to the captain’s arm. Uncontrollable. Do you mean he is very injured? A little tap on the shoulder, ma’am, the worst is over. The officer disappears and reappears with the bags she had left with the colonel days before. You agree of course that it wouldn’t be convenient, it would interfere entirely with the interrogation. She cries right in front of him, blowing her nose into her fingers, wiping them on her skirt. The next month, the senator. Calm down, it’s going to be all right, you have to be patient. He’s an extremely well-educated man, speaks seven languages. Is that why they arrested him? What do you mean, don’t be ironic. I’m telling you, you hear, don’t be ironic. Calmer. He’s an upstanding citizen, doesn’t oppose any resistance. But, senator, how could he? Look, sweetheart, I don’t like what I’m hearing, what a nag you are. Let’s change the subject. Deep in his armchair, he tells the entire story of his life as a self-made man, met his wife playing the piano at a reading, her family disapproved but it was love at first sight. Now I own the state of Maranhão. But what about him, senator, where does that leave us? Leave it to me, sweetheart, leave it to me, I know what I’m doing. But, senator, the hardliners… Punch to the armrest. Sweetheart, I’m the hardliner. Hardliner and a loyal revolutionary. Pauses. Loyal revolutionary, you hear. Not them, they’re ultra-hardliners. They want Geisel out, but we won’t let that happen, you hear? They don’t want to let go of the golden teat they’ve been sucking all this time. And a very fat teat it is, you hear?


When the police ring started tightening, he burned the papers, got rid of the 38 and went out to the street bundled in rags pretending to be a beggar. Accustomed to a narrow life in hiding, he was dizzied by the open air, nauseated by the smell of the ocean. On the second day an actual beggar came up to him and said he obviously wasn’t any kind of beggar himself. And that the street wasn’t served up just like that on a silver platter, no sir. That there was order. There was a system. That he must be fooling himself. He must be running away from something complicated. Maybe the police. Maybe a love affair. Ok. Ok. He’ll give him a tip. He should hide out at funerals in the suburbs. That’s right. They always serve some coffee, cookies. And he can cry in peace. Looks like he’s got plenty of reasons to cry.


An entire night turning pages of a photo album with one of the interrogators sticking his hand up her skirt. She sees many familiar faces.

– I don’t know anybody.

– Look carefully.

– I already said, I don’t know anybody.

To gain time, or perhaps because many years later she would fall in love with a man by this name, she points to an unfamiliar face:

– Antonio.

The interrogator pulls his hand out of her skirt, turns over the photo. On the back is written: Antonio.


Trying not to give in or unravel, she hears the voice of the fat interrogator who was leafing through her little address book.

– Listen to this.


– A frog is green by definition, but a frog that is mimetic has the condition of being hermetic.


– What the hell is that supposed to mean? Obviously this is code.

– This complicates things. It complicates things a lot.

They’re irritated.

– I want to hear you explaining this, you better explain it.

In her mind she enters the scene again. São Paulo in the sun, walking down Augusta Street with her brother, in a shop window there is a frog made of soft leather filled with sand. Brown, stuffed, it was used as a door stop. Laughing to herself she thought of Laís. She bought the frog for her friend. They sat at an outdoor table to have some beers and read the papers. She wanted to send a card with the frog. She tried out the rhymes in her address book.

A frog is green by definition
but a frog that is mimetic
has the condition
of being hermetic.

She knows what awaits her. Her heart sinks like a rock. She hears her own voice explain.

– It was a Saturday and the sun was out, I found a funny-looking frog on Augusta Street, it looked like a friend of mine.


Written over a door of the Special Police:

This is the land where the son cries and the mother does not hear.


(a) Dois Irmãos Bar

He was held for nine years in the Tarrafal and three in the Luanda Prison. He was freed in ‘73. But, to this day, he eats only with a spoon.

(b) Colonial legislation

That the silver, the silk and the bread not be touched by blacks.

vilma arêas
Vilma Arêas. Source: Companhia das Letras. Used with permission.


No dia 26 de fevereiro de 1975 ele saiu para o trabalho e sumiu no ar, com carro e tudo. A mulher correu hospitais, necrotério, delegacias de polícia. Por que a senhora acha que ele está aqui? Era um meliante? A senhora sabe de alguma coisa? É a esposa dele? Ah, são amasiados. Isso muda tudo. Quer ver saiu de farra por aí. Ninguém é de ferro e tem muita mulher sobrando.Tem sim. Não esquenta, um dia ele cansa e volta. Um contato no DOPS no segundo dia. Ligue amanhã à mesma hora. Como é mesmo o nome? Cognome? Tipo físico? Tinha uma araponga martelando a outra ponta do fio. Ligou. Verifiquei tudo, dona, no DOPS não está, devem ter levado prá PE. Barra pesada. Atrás do Desembargador no terceiro dia. Vamos lá comigo, o senhor é influente. Calma, minha filha, não vai acontecer nada. Conheço políticos. Depois seu marido é homem de bem, meu amigo. Agora está um calor danado, vamos esperar a fresca. Já me viu tocando órgão? Não sou propriamente um Guenther Brausinger, mas…Tocata em dó menor, how beautifully shines the morning star ( voz de barítono carcomido). E o largo, ah, o largo, the bridal procession from Lohengrin. Ou prefere a Marcha Fúnebre? Great God, we praise Thee… Mas o que é isso, minha flor, por que está chorando? Assim não posso me concentrar. CNBB no quarto dia. A secretária interrompe a datilografia, levanta a cabeça: Outro desaparecido? Assim não é possível. Preencha a ficha, explique as condições. D. Ivo tinha ido conferenciar com o Geisel e era aguardado a qualquer momento.O avião atrasou, disse uma mulher. Começa a conversar com a sala cheia. Parentes de desaparecidos de todos os prazos, dois anos, dois meses, dois dias. Preenche a ficha, o coração está branco, sai, pede ao PM para tirar por favor o carro da vaga. Tinha a vista turva. De braço com o Desembargador que caminhava mal pelo corredor do Ministério. O coronel muito polido. Hoje é sexta, não se pode fazer nada. Semana inglesa. Levava uma sacola com chocolates, remédios, queijinhos. Mas o que é que ele fazia? Digo do ponto de vista da subversão. Nada? Ora, minha senhora, como é que a senhora é mulher dele e não sabe de nada? Mas será que o senhor manda entregar a sacola? Mando. E um bilhete? Será que pode um bilhete? Pode. O chofér do Desembargador abre a porta do rabo-de-peixe. Diabo, esqueci os cigarros, esqueci os cigarros, que espécie de mulher sou eu, como é que fui esquecer logo os cigarros? À tardinha o Desembargador convida. Vamos à Colombo? Depois falamos com o Vitorino Freire. Na Colombo não a apresenta aos conhecidos, olhares de cumplicidade, aí, hein, Desembargador. No décimo dia o Jornal do Brasil admite a prisão, com nome e sobrenome. Lê mil vezes o nome impresso na folha, letra por letra, padecendo. O nome que no peito escrito tinha. Recorta, cola na agenda. Convida amigos prá celebrar, tomando uísque e olhando o Pão de Açúcar pela janela. Quer dizer que não matam mais. Enchem a cara. Só por acaso, se errarem na tortura. Mais quinze dias, o advogado chama. Vou lá ver um preso, se ele não estiver muito machucado a senhora vê ele também. O advogado entra, sai rindo com um capitão. Não pode ser hoje, talvez na próxima semana, o dia ainda vão marcar. Agarra-se ao braço do capitão. Incontrolável. Quer dizer que ele está muito machucado? Tapinha no ombro. Minha senhora, o pior já passou. O militar desaparece e reaparece com as sacolas que confiara ao Coronel dias atrás. A senhora há de convir que não seria conveniente, atrapalha inteiramente os interrogatórios. Chora ali mesmo, assoando o nariz nos dedos, limpando na saia. No mês seguinte, o Senador. Calma, vai dar tudo certo, tem de ter paciência, ele é homem instruidíssimo, fala sete idiomas. Por isso é que prenderam ele? O que é isso, não seja irônica. Estou lhe dizendo, hein, não seja irônica. Mais calmo. Ele é homem de bem, não opõe nenhuma resistência. Mas, Senador, como poderia? Olha, minha filha, não está dando certo esse papo, como você é irritante. Vamos mudar de assunto. Afundado na poltrona conta toda a sua vida de self-made-man, conheceu a mulher tocando piano num sarau, a família dela se opôs, mas tinha sido amor à primeira vista. Hoje em dia sou é dono do Maranhão. Mas e ele, Senador, como é que ficamos? Pode deixar, minha filha, deixa comigo, estou por dentro. Mas, Senador, a linha dura… Soco no braço da poltrona. Minha filha, linha dura sou eu. Linha dura e fiel revolucionário. Pausa. Ouça bem. Fiel revolucionário. Eles não, eles são é linha duríssima. Querem tirar o Geisel, mas nós não vamos deixar, t’ouvindo? Não querem largar a teta gorda em que estão mamando esse tempo todo. Teta gordíssima, t’ouvindo?


Quando o cerco da polícia apertou, queimou a papelada, se livrou do 38 e foi para a rua embrulhado em trapos se fingindo de mendigo. Acostumado com a vida estreita dos esconderijos, sentiu tontura ao ar livre, experimentou a náusea da maresia. No segundo dia um mendigo verdadeiro aproximou-se e disse que ele não era mendigo coisíssima nenhuma. E rua não era assim de mão beijada, não senhor. Tinha ordem. Tinha esquema. Que estava muitíssimo enganado. Devia era estar fugindo de alguma coisa complicada. Talvez da polícia. Ou quem sabe um caso de amor. Bem. Bem. Dava um conselho. Que se escondesse nos velórios de subúrbio. Aí sim. Sempre servem cafezinho, biscoitos. E você vai poder chorar em paz. Deve ter mesmo muitos motivos para chorar.


Uma noite inteira virando as páginas de um álbum de fotografias com um dos interrogadores enfiando a mão debaixo de sua saia. Vê muitas caras conhecidas.

-Não conheço ninguém.

– Olhe bem.

-Já disse, não conheço ninguém.

Para ganhar tempo, ou talvez porque muitos anos depois iria se apaixonar por um homem assim chamado, aponta um rosto desconhecido:


O interrogador retira a mão de sua saia, vira a foto. No verso está escrito: Antonio.


Tentando não sucumbir ou descontrolar-se, ouve a voz do interrogador gordo que folheava seu caderninho de endereços.

-Ouçam isso.


-Sapo é verde por definição, mas sapo mimético tem a condição de ser hermético.


-Que diabo quer dizer isso? É claro que é código.

-A situação agora é que complicou. Complicou e muito.

Estão nervosos.

– Vai logo explicando, vai logo explicando.

Revê a cena. S. Paulo ensolarado, caminhando pela Rua Augusta com o irmão, um sapo de napa cheio de areia numa vitrine. Marrom, estufado, servia para prender portas. Riu-se, lembrou-se de Laís. Comprou o sapo para a amiga. Sentaram-se numa mesa ao ar livre para tomar chopps e ler jornais. Quis mandar um cartão junto com o sapo. Treinou os versinhos no caderno de endereços.

Sapo é verde por definição
mas sapo mimético
tem a condição
de ser hermético.

Sabe o que a espera. O coração cai como uma pedra. Ouve a própria voz explicando.

– Era um sábado de sol, achei na rua Augusta um sapo engraçado muito parecido com uma amiga minha.


Escrito no alto de uma porta da Polícia Especial:

aqui é a terra onde o filho chora e a mãe não ouve.


(a) Bar Dois Irmãos

Ele ficou nove anos preso no Tarrafal e três na Cadeia de Luanda. Foi          solto em 73. Mas até hoje só come de colher.

(b) Legislação Colonial

Que a prata, a seda e o pão não sejam tocados pelos negros.

vilma arêas
Vilma Arêas. Fonte: Companhia das Letras. Utilizado com permissão.


Conceptual animated GIFs explore what identity means in Brazil today

By Jorge Bassani and Francisco Zorzete


Jorge Bassani and Francisco Zorzete, two visual artists and concrete poets whose work from the dictatorial period was analyzed in the second issue of Artememoria, contribute an original series of works for the magazine’s new edition. Through a series of animated GIFs, Bassani and Zorzete elaborate on the very term identity, contemplating categories – their separations and intersections – through colors and words. The animations remind us that there are conceptual as well as practical implications of identity politics and, ultimately, can serve as an invitation to theorize about the stories, images, and arguments in the rest of this issue.


Special thanks to Alec Cummings for animation.

Carmine Sap

Seiva Carmim

By Marcela Fauth

De Marcela Fauth


/ /

“The female body becomes political territory, a battleground and a borderland.” Marcela Fauth is a visual artist and activist who takes on grass-roots feminism in her work. In this series of original works, the artist explores the female body by documenting herself through various mediums and, often, by using her body as the raw material for her works. The series is a visceral, political statement on the violence and social taboos that women’s bodies are subjected to – as well as a hopeful call for women to reclaim their own voice. Following the images is a powerful personal essay in which the artist situates her personal trajectory and artistic process in Brazil’s current political context. Fauth’s artwork and her story is a rallying cry for women in Brazil and beyond.

I often think of my work as a sort of atlas in development, one in which I document different stories and phases of my life as a woman, artist, worker, and activist, always through a feminist lens. A kind of collection of sensations that I can’t express through words. It is evident that the majority of these experiences and observations are very intimate and difficult to articulate in words, and perhaps that is why I feel a profound need to find new languages and alternative forms of expression. The central motivation behind my work and artistic research is tied to the world of the feminine and all of the many complexities that permeate the condition of being a woman. As an artist and activist, I have a range of responsibilities that include speaking out about gendered violence and inviting people to discuss such issues. In my work, I am interested in creating new connections between women. I currently use my own body as a tool in my works, and I seek to incentivize other women to do the same. I like to think that if I manage to project my own voice into the world and occupy the spaces I want to be in, all women will also have the ability to do so.

I left my parents’ house when I was 17 and have taken on a range of professions since I was young: I have already worked as a salesperson, receptionist, secretary, cleaner, cook, seamstress, pattern designer, and caretaker for children, the elderly, and animals. I have been an assistant, cashier, bartender, photographer’s model, waiter, maid, artisan, wall painter, producer, and costume designer. From each activity, I believe I learned important realities about how labor functions and about power structures and the forms of exploitation that we face in a sexist, capitalist, and neoliberal society.

Calling myself an artist involved a very slow, difficult, and painful process. I was interested in art since I was a child, but I grew up on a small, isolated beach along the northern coast of Rio Grande do Sul where there was no access to culture and no libraries, let alone theater, cinema, cultural centers, or any other kind of cultural activity. At the time, my dream was to some day leave and go far away, preferably to a bigger city with more opportunities. I didn’t have access to internet like I do today, and I only had a computer after enrolling at a university in Rio de Janeiro when I was 24 years old. When I was growing up, I watched a lot of TV and listened to the radio; I liked to read, write, draw, practice my handwriting, and make my own clothes. I was completely in love with film. I would rent movies at the local store and watch three or four each weekend. Those were moments when I was most connected to the outside world, which stood in sharp contrast to my geographical and personal isolation.

My mother and father were fishermen who worked constantly. They couldn’t finish their education, but they cared deeply about the futures of their daughters and their son. My father was very strict and always repeated that it was important that we study so that our future job would be less physically demanding than his. Art, of course, was not on his list of ideal professions. In places where art and culture are not valued, art is simply seen as a pastime, something superficial and unnecessary, only accessible to wealthy people, and artists are seen as lazy deadbeats. Maybe that’s why drug use, violence, and other kinds of abuse are so common in that region.

I grew up in a context of intense physical and verbal violence, assault, humiliation, physical and psychological torture, abuse, and aggression, all of which reverberate within me and my work to this day. Art served as my distraction, my escape valve, and I always tried to have an additional good “job” that would allow me to invest in my artistic goals. However, I still hadn’t decided what I wanted to say through art, which themes I wanted to express. To me, it seemed extremely audacious and almost not allowed to discuss the kinds of topics I work with today. I felt artistically mute.

I experimented with a series of techniques, but my motivation, both in art and life, lay dormant. I think I was so beaten down that they nearly managed to silence my voice. And that’s how it was for years, up until the moment I realized that I hadn’t managed to direct my energy to my creative process, that I was always tired and busy with supposedly more lucrative activities, even though I still made very little money, even though I continued to be exploited at work.

I had also wanted to travel to far off places for much of my life, but that seemed impossible given my constant financial instability. At the end of 2016, I decided to try my luck and set off in search of the unknown, even though I didn’t have savings or a credit card. At that moment, I was a working woman traveling the world by myself with only my work ethic as my resource to continue forward. I spent a long time in Buenos Aires, where I worked as a waiter and was warmly welcomed by my hermanas argentinas, who energized my activism on social issues, feminism, and the fight for equality. Next I passed through Lisbon, Berlin, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. The trip was very important for me to get to know myself and to mature personally, not just as a woman, but, most importantly, as an artist. I was able to take a step back from my routine, see new places, meet people from different cultures, and reflect on the countless questions tied to my artistic research. It was in this same period, and specifically in Berlin, that I began to write the outline for the research project Rituais Femininos na Arte Contemporânea Latino Americana (Feminine Rituals in Contemporary Latin American Art), which I am currently developing for my Master’s research in the field of the Study of Artistic Processes at the Federal Fluminense University. The nine and a half months in which I traveled alone might seem cliché for the young students who had their first adventures abroad when they were in their twenties, but the experience was far beyond the reality that the little girl who grew up on a distant beach would have ever dared to dream up.

Back in Rio de Janeiro, I began to get more involved in social activism and feminist struggles. I connected with politically active women who fight for their causes, and whom I admire deeply. I was proud to walk by their side. I was influenced by grassroots feminism, by Marielle Franco, a true warrior, and by activists Tatianny Araújo, Flávia Prata, Anna Carolina Costa, amongst so many others. I participated in the Ni Una Menos movement and in the groups Pão e Rosas, Coletivo em Silêncio, and Nossa Hora de Legalizar o Aborto RJ.

I frequently participated in demonstrations and marches, carrying signs with our demands, which were often photographed and disseminated on social media in Brazil and throughout the world. I helped organize the women’s marches, the #elenão demonstrations, and a range of other protests defending the rights of women. Currently, I work with the collective VEM PRA LUTA AMADA in Rio de Janeiro, which gives me strength every day. The independent initiative is a feminist guerilla graphic design collective that opposes conservatism and stands against all forms of violence. Our goal is to promote feminist issues through visual language grounded in our daily struggles. Using a silk-screen method, we print feminist phrases onto shirts, flags, handkerchiefs, pillowcases, dishcloths, beach towels, and other materials for daily use. During demonstrations and protests, our work comes together in a visual landscape, a backdrop in which colors and impactful phrases enter and reverberate throughout the crowd. Our most notable phrases are: “VEM PRA LUTA AMADA,” “Feminismo é Revolução,” “Censura Nunca Mais,” “Meu Corpo Minhas Regras,” and “Marielle Presente.”1

I began to realize, though, that there were issues I could not express on the street through activism. There were things that I could not just write onto a poster in a direct way. Some topics are not so easy and simple to read. I felt a need to immerse myself in more intimate issues and found that I had to create an atmosphere that would facilitate that process. That was when I began research for the project Estudos da Feminilidade (Femininity Studies). It is a process-based project involving both theoretical research and artistic practice that seeks to discuss and reflect on questions of feminine performativity, femininity, bodies, clothing, gestures, the construction of identity, and the personality of a woman. In the work, the female body becomes political territory, a battleground and a borderland. I research and experiment with the ways to stimulate processes that take place intuitively, but that we have unfortunately stopped listening to as our inner voices are subsumed in the tumult of routines and endless everyday tasks.

In order to give the research continuity, I participated in the Despina artist residency program in Rio de Janeiro in 2018. During the residency, I was able to dedicate myself more intensely to the practice involved in an atelier, and I also facilitated a workshop entitled Performance Experimental e Feminilidades (Experimental Performance and Femininity), in which women from different backgrounds met weekly to reflect on everyday experiences, embracing all of the complexity and potential included in feminine issues. It was a very liberating experience, both for me personally and for the women who participated. Upon the conclusion of the residency we produced a collective performance as part of the installation Às que virão depois de nós (She Who Will Come After Us). The installation was created using traditionally feminine articles of clothing, lingerie, lace, cloth, thread, accessories, as well as organic elements like hair and leaves, forming a tunnel that guided each viewer through an interior core, a kind of nest, a conceptual uterus. Then, viewers could volunteer to put on blindfolds, take off their shoes, and enter a vulnerable state in which they experienced smells, sounds, touch, textures, taste, and other sensations. One at a time, they were surrounded by a circle of women holding hands, engaged in providing the strength of the ancestral feminine and intuitive energy. It was an original ritual, created in a free and collective way, in which emotion guided the action of each participant. The experience was very enriching and motivated me to continue with my career, to trust in my goals as a woman and an artist. I was able to truly see the power of art as a transformative force within the individual.

Now, in my current artistic production, I frequently use the material of female bodily fluid – menstrual blood, to be more direct. Questions of reproductive processes and menstruation remain taboo to this day, even amongst women. I had my first period at age 11 and, because I was unprepared for the experience, it was very difficult for me. I had a hormonal disorder caused by psychological problems, which led me to bleed intensely without stopping for three months. I completely shut down. I wasn’t able to talk to anyone about the issue, I was embarrassed and afraid, I thought I was sick and that I might die at any moment. No matter how many pads, towels, and layers of clothing I used, the blood stained everything and caused me to be made fun of at school. I didn’t want to go to class anymore and couldn’t bring myself to take part in any sports or group activities. I had to go to the hospital, where I was given serums and vitamins and was diagnosed with intense anemia, caused by the bleeding. For months, I had to undergo iron replacement and began hormonal treatment through contraceptive pills that would help contain the flow. Because of that, my body began to develop rapidly, and the curves I gained at age 11 were accompanied by the stares of adult men and extremely inappropriate proposals that no pre- adolescent child should be exposed to.

I was extremely conflicted about my condition as a woman. At many points in my life I have thought how things would be so much better if I had been born a man. It was only after I turned 30 (!) that I began to better understand my condition as a woman, and I began to discover my self-esteem. At the same time, I started using a menstrual cup, which gave me a different perspective on my flow, on myself, and on all of the potential I carry within me. That was also the time when I began my first studies using menstrual fluid as the raw material for my artistic works. When I first used the menstrual cup, I was fascinated to see blood in its liquid and fluid form, in its intense, living, and potent redness. It was like a dye, an aquifer with great symbolic power and representative value. Until then, I had only ever seen the blood that left my body as something negative, a stain on pads and clothing separate from my personal will. When I began to collect blood I started to dominate this part of my natural process, I came to posses the flow, I could choose how and where this blood would be applied and with what intention I would apply it. This brought me great autonomy. It was a way for me to recuperate myself from past trauma, to stop hiding what used to bring me shame. In my most recent series, Seiva Carmim (2019) – Carmine Sap – I use my body as a stamp in an attempt to document parts of my surfaces, my personal territory. This body that was so oppressed becomes the agent of its own discourse. I also produced a series entitled O Trabalho da Mulher (2019) – Women’s Work – in which I employ crochet lace produced by anonymous women as my base material. These valuable artisanal creations had been thrown into the trash and later found by a woman in a state of homelessness who sells objects in what are known as “shopping-chão” (floor malls), unofficial stores that many people who live on the streets in Rio de Janeiro use as their main source of income for basic sustenance. I bought these fantastic pieces for just R$1.00 ($0.25 USD) and decided to somehow showcase them while also inserting myself into the discourse. I used the crocheted pieces as stamps, soaking them with blood and imprinting their design onto linen cloth and paper. The result is a kind of silk-screen print in which I mix pieces previously produced by an unknown worker with my own flow as a working woman and a laborer in art and life.

I often say that feminism saved me, and it is true. Since I was a child, I constantly witnessed and was aware of gender inequality. It was something that disgusted me and continues to disgust me, but I wasn’t able to understand the issue deeply, nor was I able to think of solutions to the problem. It was when I started researching feminism that I was able to see how all of the violence I suffered in the past, and that I continued to suffer in the present, were not specific to me: these are personal tragedies that the majority of women share. Slowly, I started to feel a deep need to break from my chains and express myself freely.

Brazil is currently going through a period of extreme conservatism and intensified racism and sexism. The threat of fascism grows stronger every day, and rates of gendered violence and femicide are alarming. Pension reform is on the horizon, which will raise the minimum retirement age and lower retirement support. Those changes will principally affect women, who are traditionally tasked with domestic work starting at a young age. Even after they retire, many have to continue in the workforce even as they carry out almost all of the household labor, making sure their husbands, children, and grandchildren are fed and cared for.

The current administration defends banning capable teachers from discussing sexuality or contraception in schools, which results in a lack of information that leads children to be even more vulnerable to sexual abuse as well as child and teen pregnancy. In Brazil and Latin America, thousands of women die every day in clandestine abortion clinics or because of failed home abortion attempts. Currently, there is proposed legislation that would prohibit women from terminating a pregnancy even in cases of rape and when the mother’s life is at risk. Abortion is considered a crime in Brazil and can result in jail time for women who manage to survive the unsafe procedures of clandestine abortions.

These women are the victims of a patriarchal and sexist society that sees women’s bodies as a mold, a mere reproductive receptacle under church jurisdiction, a being without autonomy and without basic rights. We are living through a moment of major setbacks for progressive issues, and that context pushes feminist and social movements to react. We fight so that they stop killing us, so that they stop trying to rip from us the few rights that we have won through sweat and struggle.

On March 8, 2019, thousands of women went onto the streets in Rio de Janeiro and in the world to fight for their rights. On International Women’s Day, countless signs declared current feminist demands with phrases like: “Justiça para Marielle” (Justice for Marielle), “Aborto Legal, Seguro e Gratuíto” (Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion), “Não à Reforma da Previdência” (No To Pension Reform), amongst others. But without a doubt, the most recurrent subject this year was the issue of femicide.

marcela fauth vem pra luta amada
Marcela Fauth marches on International Women’s Day with VEM PRA LUTA AMADA, a collective that uses design for feminist political causes. Her sign reads: “Stop killing us.” Photo: Guilherme Altmayer. Used with permission.

The rate of murders motivated by gender in Brazil is terrifying. The majority of femicides are committed because of a sense of possession men feel over their female partners, and whatever form of autonomy and emancipation women gain – whether it be professional, intellectual, social, or relational – causes extreme outrage, a threat to the status quo, generating intense masculine rage and aggression. We, women, could be more focused on other urgent issues, such as the legalization of abortion or improvements to schools, kindergartens, and hospitals. But unfortunately, we have to go onto the streets and implore that they simply let us fight, that they simply stop killing us. The right to live is something so fundamental that it should not even be discussed, but it is a daily struggle that every woman knows well. This becomes clear when we walk down a dark street at night and when, upon noticing that we are being followed, we look over our shoulder and feel relieved to see that it is a woman who walks behind us.

  1. “VEM PRA LUTA AMADA” plays on the phrase “join the armed struggle,” changing the term “armada” (armed) to “amada” (loving). The other signs can read in English as: “Feminism is Revolution,” “Never Censor Again,” “My Body My Rules,” and “Marielle is Present.”

Costumo enxergar meu trabalho como uma espécie de atlas em desenvolvimento, onde vou registrando diversas fases e histórias da minha vida, como mulher, artista, trabalhadora e ativista, sempre sob a ótica do feminismo. Uma espécie de coleção de sensações que não consigo expressar através de palavras. É evidente que a maioria destes acontecimentos e percepções são muito íntimos e difíceis de falar abertamente, e talvez por isso eu sinta a necessidade latente de buscar novas linguagens e formas alternativas de expressão. Minha principal motivação de trabalho e minha pesquisa artística estão ligadas ao universo feminino e todas as complexidades possíveis que permeiam a condição da mulher. Como artista e ativista eu assumo diversas responsabilidades, dentre elas está a denúncia às violências e o convite ao debate. Em meu trabalho me interesso por gerar novas conexões entre as mulheres. Atualmente utilizo o meu próprio corpo como ferramenta para o meu trabalho e busco incentivar outras mulheres a fazerem o mesmo. Gosto de imaginar que se eu conseguir projetar a minha voz no mundo e ocupar os espaços que desejo, todas as mulheres também terão a chance de fazê-lo.

Saí da casa dos meus pais aos 17 anos e desde muito jovem atuei em diversas profissões: já trabalhei como vendedora, recepcionista, secretária, faxineira, cozinheira, costureira, modelista, cuidadora de idosos, crianças e animais. Já fui assistente, recepcionista, caixa, bartender, modelo fotográfico, garçonete, camareira, artesã, pintora de paredes, produtora e figurinista. Acredito que todas estas atividades me trouxeram noções muito importantes a respeito dos processos de trabalho e das relações de poder, da exploração profissional à que estamos submetidas em uma sociedade machista, capitalista e neoliberal.

Assumir-me como artista foi um processo bastante lento, difícil e doloroso. Desde criança sempre tive grande interesse pela arte, mas cresci em uma praia muito pequena e isolada no litoral norte do Rio Grande do Sul, onde não havia acesso à cultura, não havia bibliotecas, nem teatro, cinema, centros culturais ou qualquer outro tipo de atividade cultural. Naquela época, o meu maior sonho era algum dia partir para o lugar mais longe possível, de preferência para uma cidade grande e com muitas oportunidades. Eu não tinha acesso à internet como tenho hoje, e só fui ter um computador quando ingressei na universidade, no Rio de Janeiro, aos 24 anos. Durante a minha infância e adolescência eu assistia muita televisão, ouvia rádio, gostava de ler, escrever, desenhar, praticar caligrafia, customizar as minhas roupas e era completamente apaixonada por filmes. Alugava filmes na locadora e assistia de 3 a 4 filmes por final de semana e estes foram os primeiros contatos com o mundo externo, que estava em oposição ao meu profundo isolamento geográfico e íntimo.

Meu pai e minha mãe eram pescadores e sempre trabalhavam demais. Não puderam terminar seus estudos, mas eram muito preocupados com o futuro das filhas e do filho. Meu pai era bastante rígido e sempre repetia o quanto era importante estudarmos para termos uma profissão que não exigisse tanto esforço físico quanto a dele. Obviamente a arte não estava inclusa na lista dessas profissões ideais. Em locais onde a arte e cultura não são valorizadas, a arte é vista apenas como lazer, como algo superficial e desnecessário, que só está ao alcance de pessoas com uma condição financeira elevada, e que os artistas são todos desocupados ou vagabundos. Talvez por isso os casos de uso de drogas, violência e todos os tipos de abusos sejam tão recorrentes naquela região.

Cresci em um cenário de intensa violência física e verbal, assédio, humilhações, tortura física e psicológica, abusos e agressões, e isso tudo reverbera em mim e no meu trabalho até hoje. A arte era considerada apenas distração, uma válvula de escape, então eu sempre buscava ter um bom “emprego” para conseguir investir no meu propósito como artista. Porém ainda não havia decidido sobre o que eu queria falar, que temas eu tinha vontade de expressar. Parecia-me extremamente ousado e quase proibido falar dos temas que abordo hoje em dia. Sentia-me “muda” artisticamente.

Experimentava diversas técnicas, mas a minha motivação na arte e na vida estava completamente adormecida. Acho que apanhei tanto que quase conseguiram calar a minha voz. E assim foi durante muitos anos. Até o momento em que me dei conta de que eu não estava conseguindo direcionar minha energia para o meu processo criativo, que estava sempre cansada e ocupada com atividades aparentemente mais promissoras financeiramente e ainda assim ganhava pouco, enquanto continuava sendo explorada profissionalmente.

Durante grande parte da minha vida desejei viajar e conhecer lugares distantes, mas isto soava bastante impossível em virtude da minha constante instabilidade financeira. No final de 2016 resolvi arriscar a sorte e partir em busca do desconhecido, mesmo sem ter dinheiro guardado ou cartão de crédito. Eu era então uma mulher trabalhadora viajando sozinha pelo mundo, utilizando apenas a minha força de trabalho como ferramenta para seguir a viagem adiante. Permaneci um longo tempo em Buenos Aires, onde trabalhei como garçonete e fui muito bem recebida pelas hermanas argentinas, que impulsionaram a minha militância social, o meu ativismo feminista e a luta pela igualdade. Depois disso passei por Lisboa, Berlim, Hamburgo e Amsterdam. Essa viagem foi muito importante para o meu auto-conhecimento e amadurecimento pessoal, não apenas como mulher, mas principalmente como artista. Pude distanciar-me da rotina e tive a chance de conhecer novos lugares, pessoas de diversas culturas e refletir a respeito de inúmeras questões relacionadas a minha pesquisa autoral. Foi também nessa época, mais precisamente em Berlim, que comecei a escrever o esboço do que é hoje o projeto de pesquisa que desenvolvo como mestranda em Estudos dos Processos Artísticos, na Universidade Federal Fluminense: Rituais Femininos na Arte Contemporânea Latino Americana. Os nove meses e meio em que estive viajando sozinha podem até parecer clichê para muitos jovens estudantes em sua primeira aventura fora de casa aos vinte e poucos anos, porém esta experiência foi muito além do que aquela menina que cresceu em uma praia distante ousaria sonhar.

De volta ao Rio de Janeiro, comecei a envolver-me mais intensamente com o ativismo social e com as lutas feministas. Fui me conectando com mulheres ativas e guerreiras a quem admiro muito e ficava feliz em caminhar ao lado delas. Fui muito influenciada pelo feminismo de base, pela guerreira Marielle Franco, e pelas ativistas Tatianny Araújo, Flávia Prata, Anna Carolina Costa, entre outras tantas. Acompanhei o movimento Ni Una Menos e a militância dos grupos Pão e Rosas, Coletivo em Silêncio, Nossa Hora de Legalizar o Aborto RJ.


Com frequência participava de atos e marchas e carregava cartazes com as nossas reivindicações, que em muitas ocasiões eram fotografados e disseminados pelas mídias sociais no Brasil e no mundo. Participei da organização das marchas das mulheres, do movimento #elenão, e de diversos atos e marchas em defesa dos direitos das mulheres. Atualmente participo ativamente do coletivo VEM PRA LUTA AMADA, no Rio de Janeiro e isso me fortalece a cada dia. O movimento é uma iniciativa independente de guerrilha gráfica feminista, em oposição ao conservadorismo e contra todas as formas de violência. Nossa proposta é promover a pauta feminista através da linguagem visual que caracteriza a nossa luta diária. Produzimos frases feministas através de serigrafias aplicadas em camisetas, bandeiras, lenços, fronhas, panos de prato, cangas e acessórios de uso cotidiano. Durante os atos e manifestações, nosso trabalho compõe uma espécie de paisagem, um pano de fundo onde as cores e frases de impacto se impõem e reverberam na multidão. As frases mais marcantes são: “VEM PRA LUTA AMADA”. “Feminismo é Revolução”, “Censura Nunca Mais”, “Meu Corpo Minhas Regras” e “Marielle Presente”.

Comecei a perceber que haviam questões que eu não conseguia expressar na rua, na militância e no ativismo. Haviam coisas que eu não conseguia escrever diretamente em um cartaz, de forma objetiva. Alguns temas não eram tão fáceis e simples de ler. Senti a necessidade de me aprofundar nas questões mais íntimas e percebi que precisaria criar uma atmosfera que facilitasse este processo. Foi quando iniciei o projeto de pesquisa intitulado Estudos da Feminilidade. É um trabalho processual de pesquisa teórica e prática artística que busca o diálogo e a reflexão acerca da performatividade do feminino, a feminilidade, o corpo, as roupas, o gesto, a construção da identidade e da personalidade da mulher. Neste trabalho o corpo feminino torna-se um território político, um campo de batalha e de delimitação de fronteiras. Pesquiso e experimento maneiras de estimular os processos que ocorrem de forma intuitiva, pois com a rotina atribulada e o acúmulo de funções cotidianas, infelizmente deixamos de escutar a nossa voz interior.

Como forma de dar continuidade à esta pesquisa, participei da residência artística da Despina, no Rio de Janeiro em 2018. Durante o período de residência consegui dedicar-me mais intensamente à prática de atelier, e também ministrei a oficina Performance Experimental e Feminilidades, onde semanalmente encontrava mulheres de diferentes realidades e refletíamos a respeito das nossas experiências cotidianas, com toda a complexidade e possibilidades que os temas femininos abrangem. Foi um processo muito libertador para mim e para as mulheres participantes, e ao final da residência apresentamos uma performance coletiva que fez parte da instalação Às que virão depois de nós. Esta instalação foi produzida a partir de peças do vestuário tradicional feminino, lingeries, rendas, tecidos, linhas, acessórios, e também de elementos orgânicos, como cabelos e folhas, formando um túnel que direcionava os espectadores individualmente a um núcleo interno, uma espécie de ninho, um útero conceitual. Uma vez deitados e com os olhos vendados, descalços e em estado de vulnerabilidade, os voluntários eram sensibilizados por experiências de olfato, sons, toques, texturas, sabores e sensações, e eram, cada qual por sua vez, rodeados por este círculo de mulheres conectadas e empenhadas em dar vazão às forças da energia feminina ancestral e intuitiva. Foi uma espécie de ritual inédito, criado de forma coletiva e livre, onde a emoção guiava as ações de cada participante. Foi uma experiência muito enriquecedora e que me motivou intensamente a seguir minha carreira e confiar no meu propósito como mulher e artista. Consegui realmente perceber o poder da arte como ferramenta transformadora dos indivíduos.

Em minha produção atual é muito recorrente o uso de fluidos corporais femininos, ou sangue menstrual se assim preferir denominar de forma mais clara e direta. Os temas relacionados a processos reprodutivos e menstruação são ainda hoje considerados tabus, até mesmo entre as mulheres. Tive meu primeiro ciclo aos 11 anos e não estava preparada para isso, e esta foi uma fase muito difícil para mim. Tive uma disfunção hormonal em função dos meus problemas psicológicos e isso fez com que eu sangrasse intensamente e de forma ininterrupta por durante 3 meses. Eu fiquei completamente bloqueada, não conseguia conversar com ninguém a respeito disso, sentia vergonha e medo, pensava que estava doente e que poderia morrer a qualquer momento. Por mais que eu usasse absorventes, toalhas e diversas camadas de roupas, ainda assim o sangue sujava tudo e eu era motivo de piada na escola. Eu não queria mais frequentar as aulas, não conseguia me encaixar em nenhuma atividade coletiva ou esportiva. Neste período fui internada em um hospital para receber soro e vitaminas, fui diagnosticada com anemia profunda devido ao intenso sangramento, precisei fazer reposição de ferro durante meses e iniciei um tratamento hormonal com pílulas anticoncepcionais para conter o fluxo. Com isso meu corpo começou a desenvolver-se de maneira precoce, e aos 11 anos minhas novas curvas vieram acompanhadas de olhares de homens adultos e propostas bastante inadequadas para uma criança pré-adolescente.

Vivia um grande conflito com a minha condição feminina. Em diversos momentos da minha vida pensei o quanto seria melhor se eu tivesse nascido homem. Somente após meus 30 anos (!) eu comecei a compreender melhor a minha condição enquanto mulher, e comecei a descobrir a minha auto-estima. Paralelo a isso, comecei a usar o coletor menstrual e isso me trouxe uma nova dimensão do meu fluxo, do meu auto-conhecimento e de toda a potencialidade que eu carregava dentro de mim. Nesta época eu iniciei meus primeiros estudos utilizando o fluxo menstrual como matéria prima para meus trabalhos artísticos. Na primeira vez que usei o copo coletor eu fiquei fascinada ao ver o sangue de forma líquida e fluida, um vermelho intenso, vivo e potente, como uma tinta, uma aquarela de grande poder simbólico e valor representativo. Até esse momento eu somente enxergava de forma negativa o sangue que saía do meu corpo, tingindo absorventes e roupas de forma alheia a minha vontade. Quando comecei a coletar o sangue eu comecei a dominar parte desse processo natural, eu era agora detentora do fluxo, poderia escolher de que forma e onde este sangue seria aplicado e com qual intenção isto seria feito. Isto me trouxe um sentimento de autonomia muito grande, foi uma forma de me recuperar dos traumas do passado, de não precisar esconder as coisas que me envergonhavam anteriormente. Em minha série mais recente, Seiva Carmim (2019) utilizo meu corpo como carimbo, numa tentativa de registrar parte das minhas superfícies e territórios pessoais. Esse corpo que já foi tão oprimido passa a ser agente de seus próprios discursos. Também produzi uma série denominada O Trabalho da Mulher (2019) onde utilizo como base rendas de crochet produzidas por mulheres anônimas. Estes valiosos trabalhos artesanais foram descartados no lixo e posteriormente encontrados por uma moradora de rua que trabalha vendendo objetos nos denominados “shopping-chão” como são chamadas as lojas improvisadas que muitos moradores de rua no Rio de janeiro tem como principal fonte de renda e de onde tiram o seu sustento. Comprei estas peças maravilhosas por apenas R$ 1,00 e resolvi destacá-las de alguma forma, mas também me inserir neste discurso. Utilizei as peças como carimbo, umedeci-as com sangue e registrei seu desenho em tecido de linho e papéis, criando uma espécie de serigrafia onde mesclo um trabalho produzido atentamente por uma trabalhadora desconhecida ao meu próprio fluxo de trabalhadora e operária das artes e da vida.

Costumo dizer que o feminismo me salvou, e isso é verdade. Desde criança eu sempre tive grande percepção e consciência a respeito da desigualdade de gênero e isso me revoltava e ainda me revolta, mas eu não conseguia entender profundamente estas questões e tampouco conseguia pensar em possíveis soluções para esse dilema. Quando comecei a pesquisar mais sobre o feminismo, pude perceber que todas as opressões que eu havia sofrido no passado e continuava vivenciando no presente não aconteciam apenas comigo: essa era uma tragédia pessoal comum à grande parte das mulheres. Gradualmente comecei a sentir uma a necessidade imensa de romper com todas as amarras e expressar-me livremente.

Atualmente o Brasil passa por um período de extremo conservadorismo, racismo e machismo exacerbados, onde a ameaça fascista torna-se mais presente a cada dia, e os índices de violência contra a mulher e feminicídios são alarmantes. Está em questão a Reforma da Previdência, que pretende aumentar a idade mínima de aposentadoria e diminuir os valores da mesma. Esta reforma ameaça atingir principalmente as mulheres, que desde muito jovens são tradicionalmente incumbidas das tarefas domésticas e de cuidado, e mesmo após aposentadas, muitas precisam seguir no mercado de trabalho enquanto continuam assumindo quase integralmente as atividades do lar, com os cuidados e alimentação dos seus maridos, filhos e netos.

O governo defende a proibição de professores capacitados falarem nas escolas sobre sexualidade e métodos contraceptivos, o que gera falta de informação e torna as crianças ainda mais vulneráveis à pedofilia e gravidez na infância e adolescência. No Brasil e na América Latina, milhares de mulheres morrem todos os dias em clínicas de aborto clandestino ou em decorrência de procedimentos de aborto caseiro mal-sucedidos.

Atualmente há projetos de lei que defendem que a mulher seja proibida de interromper uma gravidez até mesmo em casos de estupro ou risco de vida para a gestante. No Brasil o aborto é considerado crime e pode levar à prisão as mulheres que conseguem sobreviver aos procedimentos de aborto clandestino.

Estas mulheres são vítimas da sociedade patriarcal e machista, que enxerga o corpo feminino como uma matriz, um mero receptáculo reprodutivo sob a jurisdição do estado e da igreja, um ser sem autonomia e sem seus direitos básicos assegurados. Vivemos um momento de grande retrocesso das pautas progressistas e com isso os movimentos sociais e feministas são impulsionados a reagir, a lutar para que parem de nos matar, que parem de tentar arrancar os poucos direitos que foram conquistamos com suor e muita luta.

No último dia 8 de março de 2019, milhares de mulheres saíram às ruas do Rio de Janeiro e do mundo para lutar por seus direitos. No dia internacional das mulheres, inúmeros cartazes ilustravam as diversas reivindicações femininas atuais, com frases como: “Justiça para Marielle”, “Aborto Legal, Seguro e Gratuíto”, “Não à Reforma da Previdência”, entre outras. Mas certamente o tema mais recorrente este ano foi relacionado à questão do Feminicídio.

marcela fauth vem pra luta amada
Marcela Fauth no Dia Internacional da Mulher com VEM PRA LUTA AMADA, um coletivo que usa design para militância feminista. Foto: Guilherme Altmayer. Utilizado com permissão.

É assustador o índice de assassinatos cometidos contra as mulheres devido à condição de gênero no Brasil. Grande parte dos feminicídios é cometida em função do sentimento de posse que os homens têm com relação às suas companheiras, e qualquer forma de autonomia e emancipação femininas, seja no campo profissional, intelectual, social ou afetivo, causa uma revolta muito grande, uma ameaça ao status quo, o que gera acessos de fúria e agressividade masculina exacerbados. Nós mulheres, poderíamos estar mais concentradas em diversas pautas urgentes, como a Legalização do Aborto e a melhoria de escolas, creches e hospitais. Mas infelizmente precisamos sair às ruas e implorar para que nos deixem lutar, que parem de nos matar. O direito à vida é algo tão básico que nem deveria ser discutido, mas essa é uma luta diária que toda mulher conhece muito bem. Isso se torna claro quando andamos em uma na rua escura à noite e, ao percebermos que estamos sendo seguidas, olhamos para trás e sentimos um alívio ao perceber que quem nos segue é outra mulher.

Guardians of Memory

A Short Film on Living Memory in Guarani Communities

By Alberto Alvares


Indigenous communities have faced violence since Brazil’s colonial period. But in that long history of oppression, specific periods stand out as moments in which non-western cultures faced new and particularly intense threats. Some are shockingly contemporary: in the period of 1964-1985, the Brazilian military dictatorship established indigenous reeducation camps – a program of forced whitening – and forcibly removed indigenous people from their land. And, in the current moment, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro not only celebrates the past genocide of indigenous groups, but he also calls to get rid of all demarcated indigenous lands and intentionally emboldens land grabbers to commit acts of violence against indigenous peoples, as The Intercept reports.

At the heart of these acts of violence, historically and in the present moment, is a general disregard for the non-western cultural views that continue to exist within Brazil. In order to end the continued violence against indigenous groups, there needs to be an educational effort to discuss and celebrate the diverse cultural beliefs in Brazil. Filmmaker Alberto Alvares, who is ethnically Guarani, assumes that task: he makes films that depict and preserve his culture for indigenous and non-indigenous viewers. Here, Alvares created a short film from his feature length documentary Guardiões da Memória, or Guardians of Memory, which seeks to communicate the “living memory” of the Guarani people. After watching, continue on for a conversation on indigenous audiovisual production and the politics of land in Brazil today.


Guardiões de Memória (Guardians of Memory) in its short film form. Directed by Alberto Alvares.

Artememoria: In this short film, your narration includes the statement, “for us Guarani, memory is what constitutes life.” How did you come to understand the role of memory for Guarani communities and why did you chose to make a film on that topic? 

Alberto Alvares: We Guarani have many stories, many things that need to be filmed, that should be told to a camera and then safeguarded. I’ve made films in various different contexts. My focus in documentary filmmaking is on spirituality, and all of my films bring in that question in some way. Guardiões de memoria (Guardians of Memory) is a film that I had already been thinking about for some time. I wanted to tell these stories, these memories. For us, the Guarani, memory is not what happens after death. We live this memory in our everyday lives. Our elders are the guardians of knowledge, of the memories that we carry with us. It is not a dead memory, that isn’t what remembering is. I wanted to represent that kind of memory through film. That’s why the film is called Guardiões de memória. The elders are the guardians because they carry wisdom with them and then pass it down to the new generation. That new generation grows up with that memory, carrying it with them. When the elders die, the young person takes their place.

The idea of the film was to safeguard memory and to really to show what knowledge the elders in our villages are protecting. There are very few elders left in the world of the Guarani. Many of our spiritual leaders have already died or left. Film is a tool, another way of telling the memory that is present here.

Artememoria: Why is film your medium for safeguarding memory?

Alvares: I always say that we, the Guarani, are above all a people of orality. We are not a people of the written word. So we need to find a way to preserve that, to communicate the dreams of the Guarani and to narrate the life of the Guarani through images. I always think that when you write, you make mistakes, you erase things, you throw things away until your writing is correct. Not in film. When you produce it, it remains. You are able to see something and then come back and revisit it. You can take these films into schools and talk to communities about them. Film is the medium for communicating the presence of invisible beings and the wisdom of our elders. With each part of each film I produce, year after year, I continuing seeing what is most important, what I should record, what my main focus should be.

Artememoria: The question of what to record and what to focus on is interesting. Various visual moments in Guardiões de memória are very powerful. When the elder is talking about Nhanderu, there is a moment in which the camera focuses only on her hands as she tells that story, and at the end of the scene, the camera zooms out to show another elder sitting silently by her side. How do you make these choices? What grounds your visual choices as a director?

Alvares: Today, the Guarani people know about my work. I am known mostly among my own people as a reference for those who want to safeguard knowledge through film. People seek me out to record interviews, to record dances. Whenever they want to document something, they come to me. They say, we need you, and I go whenever I can. They trust me because I’m Guarani. It’s as though I am the person who will bring these beautiful words to society so that the world can see who we really are.

I learned how to make films by making them. I never studied film, I never studied how to frame something. I frame a scene however I want to. I never think about framing something in a specific way, getting a close-up shot because I think about how people will watch it. No, I think, I want this to be the way I want it to be. Now, I do know the kinds of shots I am using, but I didn’t before. Because I produced so much material, I learned through doing. And I always take real risks when I make films. When you direct a documentary, especially with the Guarani people, you don’t ask an elder to repeat a scene twice. That would never happen. You have to take risks, to already have in mind how you want to frame those shots. That is what I do.

Artememoria: What is the broader political significance of living memory for the Guarani?

Alvares: I’ve never intentionally made a political film. It’s important to make films that show how the Guarani people think and what our elders say about the world. At the same time, through these films, society can learn how the Guarani people think about the world, how we see the issue of land and caring for the spaces we live in. All of this is a way for us to also show that our land is a part of our people. That this is our sacred territory. That is what I want to show to the world when I make films through the wisdom that elders bring to a new language through the tool of the camera.

With that, we will slowly reach a few people who are trying to understand why the Guarani struggle for a piece of land. In most cases, Guarani communities have small territories, tiny pieces of land. Take Jaraguá, which is 1.3 hectares in the São Paulo metro area. People there think, why is the Indian here? But people do not know our history, they do not know our land. Society doesn’t manage to see how that place has spirits. Trees have spirits, water has spirits, rocks have spirits there, and when people sing, when they dance, the spirits sing with them. This land has its spirits and the wise ones speak to that invisible world through song. That’s why the land is sacred for the Guarani. Our communities can’t see themselves leaving that territory and moving to another place, because that would mean leaving sacred land. That is what I want to express to society.

Artememoria: Who are other Guarani artists or directors that you would like to suggest to readers interested in broadening their view of the world?

Alvares: There is a woman named Patrícia Ferreira. She’s a Guarani filmmaker who lives in Rio Grande do Sul; she and her husband do a lot of good work. Patricia focuses a lot on this question of spirituality, and what it means to be a Guarani woman.

Artememoria: What are the upcoming projects you are working on?

Alvares: I’m finishing a full-length documentary called O Último Sonho (The Last Dream). It’s an homage to a wise Guarani elder who died in 2016 and who was a great leader, very respected in Southern and Southeastern Brazil.

I also have a finished script for a film called Coração na Terra (Heart of the Earth), which will show the Guarani world without borders, in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Why do the Guarani called that place the heart of the earth? How do the Guarani live there? How do the Guarani people see the border? For the non-indigenous society, there is a border, but from the Guarani perspective there isn’t any border at all. Instead, there are only territories. We so often see the suffering of the Guarani-Kaiowá on the border, but I thought that there was another, more positive side of the story to tell.