Gê Viana lives in São Luís in the state of Maranhão, but she always returns to the village of Centro do Dete, where she was born, to spend time with her relatives and with nature. Much of her art comes from this revisited source that reappears in photomontages, collages, graffiti art, installations, and urban and rural interventions. Nominated for the Pipa Prize in 2019 and 2020, the artist brings her confrontation with the persistent traces of colonization to the streets and to galleries.
C&AL: You have already mentioned in interviews that the discovery of your indigenous ancestry was made through artistic research. Could you speak about your positioning with respect to these roots? Would you say this is an inexhaustible source in your work?
GV: The word “discovery,” that you use, carries the weight of colonization, of this false discovery of Brazil, Pindorama. There are generations of indigenous great-great grandparents, great-grandparents whose identities were suppressed, but not erased. When we encounter such a vestige, it is like sifting through each detail, putting it back up and hugging it. The research comes to affirm what I have always been. When my grandfather, Paizim, used to tell stories about capelobo (a folkloric being of indigenous origin), he was constructing part of me in that being. So I got behind the camera to portray people of various origins, in a process of delicate construction. I don’t go out of the house with a camera and say: today I’m going to photograph someone. The paths taken trace back to my history. To think of the end, of this source’s depletion, is to imagine an extinction of our identities.