This interview is part of a series that seeks to move queer inspiration in the present to the forefront of a conversation on what makes us want to live. Who amongst our peers makes us feel lucky to be alive here, right now, despite the particular everyday horrors of 21st century life? What of our own art couldn’t exist without our peers, those living and creating in response to our world as we live in it? I’m truly thrilled to get to interview these queer artists on these questions and more, drawing lines to connect what we make to what has been made. Nostalgia gets boring: there is so much to love for decades long past, but we’re here NOW, and until time travel becomes an option here and now is where we’ll stay. Let’s hear it for here, let’s hook-up our hearts, let’s turn each other on to what is living just next door. —Gina Abelkop
YOU MAKE ME FEEL #5: LUCAS DE LIMA
Lucas de Lima was born in southeastern Brazil. He is the author of Wet Land (Action Books) and, most recently, the chapbook Terraputa (Birds of Lace). He lives in Philadelphia and pursues doctoral studies in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.
Tell me about one particular song/film/book/poem/piece of art (made by a peer in the last 5 years-ish) that has recently undone/inspired you. What about it was so striking to you? What in your life made you so open and receptive to this particular piece of art at that time?
From She-Ra to Kafka, I’ve been obsessed with transformation ever since I can remember. Maybe because I’m often in despair about the endgame that white civilization has inflicted on this planet, this obsession is now at a fever pitch. More and more, I find myself turning to the thinkers/dreamers/angels who somehow push through human grimness only to gush anew on another plane of experience, one that’s beyond our limited scope and scale. I felt initiated in this way while watching “Estamira”, a documentary about a visionary trash collector near Rio de Janeiro. Since I first read about the film in Fabiane M. Borges’ essay “Seminal Thoughts For a Possible Technoshamanism,” I’m just going to paste her description (translated by Carsten Agger) as my response:
“She is the pajé of garbage, the schizophrenic prophetess of refuse. She is a woman who represents the state of putrefaction, the explosions of gas, who literally cohabitates with the ‘leftovers’ of mankind. It is from civilization’s garbage dump that this ‘dirty shaman’ speaks to us of other times and their accomplishments. She hallucinates about garbage. What method could be more effective if you want to know about a planet’s population? Her shamanism is more than transversal, it is motivated by surplus, by the misplaced, by that which is in excess. I will not deny that she did recycle things, but it is all the filth that turned her into something special, into a specialist on the spectrum of exclusion. If she had not been surrounded by all that garbage, she probably would never have gone so far with the schizophrenic connections that she produced […] She talks about the smell of the garbage, of its internal implosions, of its constant transformation, of the satellites connected to the antennas erected in the landfill by arrogant authorities; she speaks about control and about the illusions which create control.”
You can watch the film online for free, by the way. While looking up the URL, I found out Estamira died from an infection on her arm that was left untreated as she waited to be seen at a public hospital.
Tell me about three of your favorite contemporary artists (writers/filmmakers/musicians/theorists etc): what makes them one of your favorites? How did you discover their work? Did you discover additional artists/art via these people?
Pedro Almodóvar, because no other filmmaker makes me want to cry, laugh, and confess in the same breath. Grimes, because her music has the aura of waterfalls digitized for the day when they will cease to exist. The Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa and his translator/interlocutor Bruce Albert, because of their light-shedding book The Falling Sky.
Tell me your favorite things about the loose community of artists that you’re a part of, if you’re a part of one in some way, shape or form. What is most exciting about the work you see coming out of this community? Do you make work in response to any of it? What do you wish to see coming out of this community that you feel is lacking or underrepresented?
I still thank my lucky stars that Johannes Goransson and Joyelle McSweeney invited me to join Montevidayo, a poetry blog and haven for anyone who believes in insurrections instead of communities. It’s quieter now than it used to be, but the blog’s imprint on my mind continues to help me work through the inseparability of form and politics, and to think about both categories as entirely immanent to the writer’s process. What I cherish in Monte and its constellations, in particular, is a shared commitment to the otherworldly potential of art. In my version of this model, the writer gives herself over to the poem, foregoing foresight and mastery in order to allow for a fully experienced deviation. The poem, in other words, becomes a sacred space that spiritualizes alien perspectives at the same time as the writer bodies them forth. The result is an animation of ‘her’ words, a ghostly dynamic of exchange. Maybe what I’m describing is actually the backchannel of the dispossessed… a passage of energy mutating throughout multiple realities… spilt souls coursing in and out of open veins. Deprived of the right to claim property, illegible to all but the most occulted traditions and lineages, this kind of writer may have no choice but to enact a “production of difference” rather than fall back on the luxury of “imitation” (Luiz Costa Lima). Of course, an imagination with so much reach would barely make a blip under Empire. It blooms not in the Empirical but in the rim and realm of the invisible, blacked-out, and metaphysical. It is the mongrel other to 21st-century white lack, appropriation, and self-projection.
How do you build and/or define your community?
In a battle cry or ululation.
Tell me about an instance where a piece of art you’ve made directly responded to art made by your peers. How did your response engage (or not engage) with the inspiration?
It’s actually a case of realtime, mutual inspiration, but there are many parallels between my dear friend Sarah Fox’s amazing The First Flag and my Wet Land, which were written side by side in the same city. Both books perform a struggle to convert abyss into voice, and to amplify voice beyond the individual self in the most full-throated way, whether that means seducing or swallowing the reader.
You get to curate a festival of art/writing/film/music/etc. What living artists do you invite to present/perform at your festival?
The festival would be called “SAVAGE SOUL AGAINST THE STATE” and would consist of a single collaborative performance featuring Sarah Fox, AA Bronson, Feng Sun Chen, M.I.A., Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Milton Nascimento, Rafucko, Leona Vingativa Assassina, Davi Kopenawa, David Lynch, Alice Notley, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Eduardo Mamede, Anderson Honnorato, Bhanu Kapil, Ronaldo Wilson, Grimes, Claudio Willer, Raquel Salas Rivera, Angela K, Isabelle Huppert, La Pocha Nostra, and all the authors, editors, and translators of the border-defying broom-ride that is Action Books.
What are currently some of your favorite venues (magazine, journals, presses, youtube channels, websites, zines, libraries, museums, collectives etc) for art? What makes these venues particularly exciting/fresh/engaging?
Hilda Magazine, edited by Ricardo Domeneck, is a beautifully curated source for poems from pretty much everywhere.
The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics documents and expands on the biannual Encuentro, the most ambitious and explosive art/academic event I’ve ever attended.
Birds of Lace, your feminist press, is a venue I’ve long admired because it’s so clearly a labor of both love and urgency.
Please share five links to art that we can view online (website, music, video, writing, visual art, etc.)
Edimilson de Almeida Pereira’s poems from The Book of Voices, trans. by Steve White, their breathtaking hoof-hand.
André Vallias’ visual poem-video “totem,” for believing in the magic of the name vs. the same.
Leona Vingativa’s music video “Eu quero um boy,” an orientation in the athletic-chthonic sublime.
The cover of Hilda Hilst’s Crusts and Caresses, just because.
“Dripping birds” series by Maurizio Bongiovanni, depictions of yours truly at the end of the semester.