Carmen Miranda, the Brazilian bombshell, was iconic for many reasons. The first woman in Brazil to sign with a radio station and get a salary for that, in the 30’s. She was aware of the importance of her costumes and the way she developed her performances. In Brazilian history it was the moment when the USA was beginning to solidify its political influence over us. Cinema was a powerful tool for that, and Carmen with her campy way to perform, became the embodiment of the South American way.
There is an anecdote about Carmen that I really like. In one of her interviews in the USA, the reporter asked her what her reaction was when confronted with the snakes in the Brazilians streets, her answer was- The ones I know, I greet.
As a gay man, Identity or the expectations of others about one’s identity always interested and influenced me. There is a decolonial desire in the Brazilian air right now, people are tired of living their lives through the capitalist coloniser’s point of view.
In the 40’s and 50’s, Brazil went through industrialisation and political powers were centralised. We were trying to get into the modernity train before it overpassed us. We managed to do it, but it stopped and died and we are still stuck inside of its spectre.
So, as Snakes can symbolise renovation and healing, and Carmen had many of them as acquaintances, I decided to draw some and see if I can heal and feel better about this depressing time we are going through, with covid and Bolsonaro as Brasil’s president.
My favourite and principal media to work with are textile, I enjoy a great deal thinking about how they pervade everyone’s lives and how we rely on them for protection and comfort. How we communicate through them and how they are a powerful way of identity expression.
I hoard fabric. In my stash I have quite an amount of white cotton (tricoline and cambric). I eco printed on them to serve as the support for my drawings. During the pandemic I left São Paulo and came back to my mother’s house in the country side, here is easier to access the vegetation around, for the print process I used guava leaves, eucalyptus leaves, feijoa leaves and Gulmohar flowers.
After eight weeks doing all the alchemy involved in printing natural fibre with flowers and leaves and then draw on them I end up with these pieces.
I adore the way light passes through eco printed textiles. Then, wondering about why I decided to draw all those snakes and how I wish for a world where alterity is embraced, I sewed together all my pieces of “not white anymore“ fabric and now I’m testing to set it up in a way it will create shade so people can relax and rest under it. In the future, when I install it for a show, I’m planning to place a big comfy piece like a carpet or mattress under it. That I will be making next.