g: Encompassing time, queer imaginations, and narratives through new ways of reading and encountering each other was transported via oral documentation, away from a projected gaze. Today we reach your individual practices, and your participation in the web residency »Magical Hackerism or The Elasticity of Resilience.« As a first point of departure from there, could you elaborate on DIT (Do it Together) work in this context? What kind of tropical strategies you choose? During this time of magical hacking, how did your research expand?
jota: It is always a challenge to work with other people. My process is very intimate and I can say fragile as well. In this residency, a common denominator is that even though our experiences are different, there is a meeting point where the space for discussion and exchange happens organically. In this sense I realize that my research expands from the moment this exchange is established. It is within my research to try to understand how the Other transits and interacts with trans bodies in a violent society, and how this interaction can be transformed.
jô: Jota and I found and recognized each other in our condition as migrants in Berlin, transitioning from »abroad.« Especially in Germany, this means that your existence is constantly being put under pressure. We came to Europe to have better lives, but actually to distance ourselves and reflect about our traumas, our country, and its traditionalisms too. We met last year at a residency at Oyoun, found out about our common processes in life and ever since we have developed a friendship. For this residency, we started asking ourselves how we can disrupt the colonial ordering of the world through languages from Global South LGBTQIA+ artists. Which brought us to the reflection of temporalities. What does it actually mean to create an archive of ourselves?
jota: The first idea was to elaborate a counter-archive in which to somehow store the history of bodies that are always on the margin. Archives are a traditional storage model, and bodies outside of cis-hetero normativity – disruptive in themselves – are not expected to be part of this model. Our bodies break the rules, according to which only the memories of those who are seen as »standard« should be stored. We also didn’t want to be part of this specific, normative way of archiving, or reproduce it. Our truths should be accessible through other representations, in posterity, in a counter-archive.
jô: What will be left from our existences? (How) will they be remembered? It’s not about nostalgia. Anti-trans legislation attempts are currently happening all over the globe. Right now, in Brazil, sixty anti-trans pieces of legislation are proposed . It’s this common understanding that our existences are never safe. They never have been, but at the same time, we always existed. It’s back to the idea of archiving ourselves somehow, during the residency.
g: The core question is: what is the archive? Conventional archives host and produce records – products of technology, of remembrance. Which technologies did you re-appropriate during your residency? Could you elaborate on your decision for the results and what they address? From your point of view, what makes the digital framework suitable for non-normative perspectives?
jota: The power of the diaspora is a crossroad, a confluence of forces, a struggle for survival, inventiveness, and creativity so as not to die. All my works have elements of ancestral technologies, these technologies make it possible to continue living, creating, and existing. I am always reappropriating these technologies, remembering and thanking them. Ancestry is a technology that makes it possible to produce infinity and to survive oppression head-on.
jô: The appropriation of an archive, not only in politics, but also in terms of our ancestry, encompasses the contradictions and imbalances of forces embedded in the act of archiving itself. How can we represent archiving in a way that is not conventional? How can we make sure we create memories for the future and, at the same time, also criticize normative archiving? How can we archive the existence of ourselves without forgetting the context of oppression we are inserted in?
For the web residency, we decided to create three episodes of sound and video pieces.
For the first sound-piece episode, we collected voices from migrant trans people from Berlin and abroad: Singapore, Brazil, Morocco. We tried to connect as many people as we could within our circle of artists and friends. We asked each of them to send us a one-minute sound file about their experience of being trans: their upbringing, their lives, feelings. In whatever language they preferred. Then we asked ourselves how each piece could be complemented, overlapped or not overlapped. And where do we need translations? In the second episode, Jota and I de-archive, from our positionality, experiences and voices, our own selves.
For the video pieces we recorded and edited performances representing all these problematics about the idea of archiving. In the first video, for example, we recorded and edited a performance we did: Two trans people wrapping each other’s chests, throats, and mouths with transparent material. It has a layer of irony in it: It looks somehow like a violent act, a silencing attempt, although it doesn’t necessarily imply pain. A critical representation of archiving, we thought, should go together with a critical understanding of voice. Especially for us trans people, this a very important process of our transition, since society remains based on binary ideas of voice and gender. And these norms affect our voices, tonalities, and forces into the world, too.