C&AL: In addition to your indigenous roots, you also have black ancestry. How did you address this theme in your work Sobreposição da história?
GV: I come from an Afro-indigenous family. My paternal great-grandmother, mãe Dica, was a dark-skinned black woman with African customs. I am a capelobo (wolf’s cape), a mixed light-skinned indigenous and black woman. The ancestors on my maternal side, the Anapuru- Muypurás, lived on farming. My father built the house that I was born in with two rice farms. So these were the openings to put that work together. Participating in the Bolsa Pampulha in Belo Horizonte, in 2019, which resulted in the work Sobreposição da história, was like if someone had taken me by the arms and played that game of spinning me around where, once you land back on your feet, you’re dizzy. That is the translation of going out of Maranhão, and that is reflected in the research that I did. Everything was very different, very urban. I had to travel to areas further away from downtown Belo Horizonte, wander around until I saw sugarcane in the yards and became inspired by them.
It happened as a “miração” [Ed.: spiritual vision that occurs in a state of expanded consciousness with the use of Ayahuasca], that I had in relating the sugarcane with the moonstone crystal. The two materials have very similar surfaces, with shiny fibers. I used the moonstone to wash away the suffering that black bodies endured in the cane fields. Since moonstone provides nutrients and cleanses, I put it in into sugarcane juice and massage the feet and hands of the people invited to this act/ritual. This is in the videos that comprise the work, together with the photomontages and texts glued onto the raffia sacks.
C&AL: Your works have a political slant insofar as they rewrite the tragic past with the tools you have at your disposal. How do languages and media help to compose this confrontation together?
GV: Many of my works deal with delicate themes due to colonization and slavery of black and indigenous people. These issues are not resolved in the final image. It’s like my co-being Daniel Munduruku’s thinking: “It’s about the past, but while rewriting the future within the present.” In referencing confrontation, I think about the media that I use, which are like prosthetics of decolonization.
I set out newsprint for Paridades (Parities), because I did not want a “white” paper. Similarly, in Sobreposição da história, the raffia sacks that I use signal the backs and exploitation of black laborers who, as they did in the past, are unloading products from the slave plantation, still present in many places today. I overlaid these surfaces with photomontages that dislocate the official historical narrative and become a mechanism for bringing voice, power and protagonism to those bodies. We are rising shining, alive to protect ourselves and others.