In her photography and audiovisual works, the artist explores narratives that challenge normative constructions of the world, where queer Black people can grow old and serve as a mirror, acting as references for new generations. Ode leads us to the possibility of creating other paths to break free from colonial trauma, allowing for experiences of freedom.
When Angels Speak Of Love. Edgar, Ode, Luz and Alanda Monteiro. Photo: Ibrahem Hasan.
Left: A Rose and A Prayer. Ode. Photo: Cássia Tabatini. Center and right: A Rose and A Prayer. Edgar. Photo: Cássia Tabatini.
A Rose and A Prayer, Photobook
C& Latin America: What was the process of creating your photobook, A Rose and A Prayer like? What was challenging for you when creating a queer Brazilian iconography?
Ode: Although each of my friends photographed in this series and I were born in different places, my intention was for us to appear united by ancestral ties, and the portraits feel like portals to a place where nostalgia, fantasy, and the feeling of diaspora converge. After sharing so many stories and the pursuit of a divine state, one only has to look at us to realize we are divine in the atmosphere created in A Rose and A Prayer. It is not a practical or political reality, but a state of mind, divine precisely because it is literally unattainable and geographically fantastical.
That said, creating the conditions for the return of the “body-that-knows” and making it immune to the consequences of colonial trauma that anesthetize it is an unavoidable task in resisting the current state of affairs. It’s not a matter of futurology, signs of such a return have gradually been insinuated in the so-called Global South, a South of which there are many, and whose outlines are not defined geographically.
C&AL: What path do you take to identify similarities between Brazil and other Latin countries? How does this affect, or not, the practice of your work?
Ode: Looking at this atmosphere, Latin American viewers can find themselves facing a re-enactment of the disorder of their early years. This is before they’ve heard of contradictions, which necessitate a new self-image, due to their Latin heritage, for the construction of images of Latinos is, in general, a very complex and ambiguous process, which comprises a great deal of fetishism determined by postcolonial mimicry. When leafing through the photobook A Rose and A Prayer or visiting the exhibition, you don’t know exactly if the photograph was taken in Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, or in all these countries.
C&AL: What references led you to incorporate all these elements and symbols into your work, such as the R$1.99 roses, for example?
Ode: In some of the sacred rites I believe in, roses are part of that spiritual work. Although they’re made of paper, the roses also showed me where the power of imagination lies and that I could meditate on worlds that don’t yet exist, as I tried to come up with ways to challenge the normative constructions of the world, I found myself in in my hometown. When I was a child, I remember seeing them especially in the congada parades, a tradition kept alive by the descendants of enslaved Africans, which is mixed with native Latin American spirit worship.
Left: Divina (Divine). Promotional Material. Right: Restituição (Restitution). Promotional Material.
C&AL: Your audiovisual works, Divina e Restituição, show snippets of lives of members of the LGBTQIAP+ community. These bodies are protagonists in a universe of holiness that is created by you. You make your desire to sanctify these bodies very evident in these works. Can you describe that process?
Ode: Restituição, a film shown at SHOWstudio and that was part of the Radical Intimacies exhibition at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, in São Paulo, in 2022, was left intentionally with no dialogues, since “trasvesti” does not translate. It consists of everyday sounds, like a soccer game vignette, the sound of a propane delivery vehicle and songs I used to hear playing at my neighbors’ houses, an acoustic version of the song Novo Mundo, by Yndi, a French-Brazilian friend, and by Wonder, by the eternal Cláudia Wonder, who repeats in French that everything will be fine.
And over the course of the three chapters of Divina – which allude to the Biblical verse John 14:6, The Way, The Truth, and The Life – I present Marcinha do Corintho in a way that goes against the usual rhetoric associated with trans women. I covered her with iconography of saints and Pomba Giras. I wanted to explore a different narrative: to show that trans women can be alive, grow old, leave a legacy, be victorious and be seen as sacred. It’s the message I want not only Divina, but also my latest works to transmit. I think the possibility of dreaming fertilizes life and avenges death.
Ode was born in the city of Itajubá, Serra da Mantiqueira (Minas Gerais). She is a curator, writer, and self-taught multidisciplinary artist. In her work, she brings a caring and sanctified perspective to the bodies of her companions.
Daiely Gonçalves is a Brazilian artist, teacher, and researcher. She articulates narratives against colonies, launched on the representation of body and territory in themes of race and gender.
Translation: Zoë Perry