Group of artists and curators gathers in Brazil to hold a national rally of visual arts produced solely by black and non-white women.
Aline Motta, Ponte sobre Abismos #3, 2017. Cortesy of the artist.
The idea of the National Trovoa collective came about in March 2019 from four artists, racialized women, each of whom was reflecting on the presence of their bodies in the world. They are black, non-white women, all involved in making art. They come from a movement that calls attention to the lack of visibility, space and remuneration – in other words, providing a context for the racialized woman artist.
The discussion grew out of and resulted in a collective as a space of possible exchanges, as the project’s Charter-Manifesto says: “We are a group of artists and curators gathering with the intention of making a national exhibit of visual arts produced by black and non-white women. We understand the need to speak of and to exhibit the plurality of our languages, discourses, research and medias produced by us as racialized women.”
Spaces reserved for whiteness
Originally, the group, Trovoa, came about in 2017 when four women met intent on demanding that they hold the title of visual artists – this title that is still today very much reserved to a whiteness that is there arbitrarily as intellectual elite. To the Trovoa artists it increasingly became more of an issue that, in the art circuit in general, even in spaces said to be open, that value the call for diversity and the presence of racialized bodies, there is no understanding that the discourse of non-white artists goes well beyond the denunciatory speech of a day-to-day racism.
“Yes, we denounce all the forms of violence we are suffering just for being who we are, and we will do so as long as it persists. But we are complex human beings and our subjectivity brings us to many other places beyond those of violence. We are many, we have different ways of thinking, we believe in different things; and, like all human beings, we will express our individualities in ways that are in our best interest. We do not accept scraps from an art circuit that barely acknowledges our existence and, when it does, it is through the distorted lens of the singular narrative, of single-perspective research,” the artists denounced.
Project Trovoa in Belém at the Center for the Study and Defense of Black People in Pará: exhibition "Quieto como é mantido” (“Continued silence”), 2019. Photo: publication.
Trovoa invites women from various states throughout Brazil to exhibit their works in the show. Even without any institutional financial support, the idea is to bring together those who wish to collaborate and to provide space and work so that this exhibit can happen and keep happening through exchanges on social media networks on Facebook and Instagram.
Underpinning the discourse of Trovoa is, therefore, using it as a rallying call to ground a platform and a movement. What was to be an exhibit, with a date for completion, is today a collective that seeks to foster leadership and individuality in art field. We already have a headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and we are seeking means of exchange not only of works, but of artists from all over Brazil as well as outside of the country.
Revolution in simplicity
“Structures are made in groups. The collective, National Trovoa, is a simple movement and in its simplicity lies revolution: keep on doing your work and debating about it, and recognizing as well what structural conditions were experienced in order for it to develop. Simply put: “non-white racialized women, be vigilant and listen,” the collective’s artists declared at the convocation. “So far, we have a presence in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Pernambuco, Ceará, Maranhão, Espirito Santo and Pará. We are more than 150 artists and curators together in the struggle to achieve visibility in the art world,” they concluded.
Keyna Eleison is a curator, with a degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Art History. A narrator, singer, ancestral chronicler, she is a specialist in art education, storytelling, knowledge harvesting – orally, Griot heritage and shamanic ritual. She also contributes regularly to the column “For eyes that can see” in Contemporary And (C&) América Latina.
Translated from Portuguese by Sara Hanaburgh.