C&AL: You’ve played a key role in the emergence of queer aesthetics and ethics in the field of contemporary Brazilian artistic production. How did you reach this conception of “invisible knowledge,” or rather, how did this conception reach you?
Pêdra Costa: The name came from a patchwork quilt of knowledge, which was created over time through observing various moments in colonial history, in direct connection with my personal history, namely: historical and artistic knowledge, and life experience. As my friend Musa Michelle Mattiuzzi says: according to the colonial project, only white people were supposed to exist today. So what went wrong with that plan? That’s where invisible knowledge comes in. Not to give an answer, because the answer’s already been given, but to indicate anti-colonial pathways and ways of surviving necropolitics. It’s knowledge that I continue to develop and that will never be complete. It’s nothing new and it already exists in many forms and under other names, surrounding architecture, immigration, ancestry, epistemicide, social class, the queer Global South, intuition, artistic and religious practices. And, most importantly, knowledge that this plan tried to erase, but which continue to develop and seek out other ways of being in the world, and which have a direct connection with my body. I’m still looking for a way to talk about it, since recognizing this demands life experience. Just talking about it doesn’t reveal the enormity of this process. Invisible knowledge is the crossroads.
C&AL: One particularly intriguing thing is the relationship between this concept and modes of the social, historical, and intimate organization of violence. “Invisible knowledge” is also “resilient knowledge”, which crosses its own extinction and manifests itself through time. You elaborate on this in a project called “Violence in the Arts”. How do violence and art link together in what you put forth, and in your career as an artist?
PC: This knowledge is sensitive. Therefore, it’s also empathic and, in order to be sensitive and empathic, it has to be resilient. Otherwise it’s just painful and processes don’t change. This knowledge brings resilience with it, but it’s up to us whether we access it and break free from the prison of trauma, if that’s possible. It’s just like you said yourself: the world is my trauma. And I believe that this is revolutionary, in the sense of going against the capitalist/colonial system in which we live. And there are no formulas: it’s sensitive, it’s collective, it’s resilient, it’s anti-colonial – all at the same time. And every way of manifesting it is unique. It seems paradoxical to have all these characteristics, but it’s not. It’s a crossroads. My work is based and fed on and by violence, which is decoded, transformed and given back in an aesthetic way. Some people find the result violent. I don’t, if you compare it with my entire personal history of violence. And I show my work in an often festive, amusing, fun way, but always straight to the point, whether that’s visible to the public or not.