The Mercosul Biennial, which would have opened on April 16th, was postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but has made available online activities and projects of participating artists. One of them is the first activity of the Chama Project: a radio program, on which the artist and creator of the project, Ana Lira, of Recife, shares her research on the musicality of the Diaspora, incorporating the research of artist and DJ Marta Supernova (Rio de Janeiro), DJ Suelen Mesmo (Turmalina Collective, Porto Alegre) and the participation of Sudanese poet Ola Elhassan.
The project consists of a sound installation, an artist’s book, a celebration and an experiment for young DJs. The objective is to open up a conversation about how the poetics of the Diaspora have migrated and transmitted their codes through creative expressions of peoples who survived the slave trade. In an interview, the participating artists talk with C&AL.
C&AL: What is the Chama Project?
Ana Lira: The Chama is an experiment dedicated to the poetics of the Diaspora and their sound, celebratory, sensorial and written expressions. I noticed how languages codify knowledge and how essential it is not to force translations. We have to maintain the diversity of answers and encourage, within ourselves, strategies for feeling the unfamiliar. In 2019, I expanded the proposal to include music and sound. Then I invited Marta Supernova and we opened a call to map DJs in Latin America. We invited Suelen, from the Turmalina Collective, because the South of Brazil makes the Diaspora invisible. Our first experiment is with radio. The other phases for the 12th Mercosul Biennial are the celebrations and an experiment with poetry. In addition, I designed a sound installation and an artist’s book in collaboration with Ola Elhassan.
Marta Supernova: This power of the DJ and of the economic and political landscape of diasporic musicality moves bodies, thus shaping one of the most important cogs in the wheel on the world music scene. Electronic music has strong diasporic roots, not only because it was created with black musicality, but it is also an accessible phenomenon in terms of production. The debate about what afrohouse is (which can be a musical style, but also an umbrella term for any Afrodiasporic production of electronic music, etc.) is illustrative of how difficult it is to give an edge to Diasporic movements, given the appropriations these movements suffer, how quickly they are disseminated, created and changed in digital and electronic art production.
C&AL: What do these poetics have in common?
Ana Lira: There is common ground between generations. Both in poetry and in musicality, themes of collectivity, communication, belonging, migration and purging are common. Bodily experiences as story(teller) and sensorial mediator are also symbolic in understanding. Another point is the relationship to movement. Our poetics have a tendency toward movement or to a desire [to move]. Migration and reinvention bring us that.