English translation by Frê Almeida
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WITH “RADICAL TENDERNESS”, “DIGNIFIED RAGE” AND “REBEL DIGNITY FOR THE JUST CAUSE OF LOVE”
I have been saying goodbye like this on electronic messages or when closing “public” appearances in online meetings already for some time. Since I learned these manifesto-words with Dani d’Emilia and Daniel B. Chávez (in the context of the emergence of the Radical Tenderness manifesto) and with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), I call upon them and write them down whenever I can, in order to share them with others as insignias: magical words capable of evoking “another possible world” here and now.
I am happy to be able to be here experiencing the unfolding of Radical Tenderness, together with Vanessa Andreotti and the collective Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures, and also to be able to utter-write other magical words-actions from this proposal.
For the invitation to activate “two art-life rituals for metabolic reattunement” I chose to co-sense with the following calls of Radical Tenderness:
BLEED THE STONE AND FREE THE BODIES
“For us, Indigenous peoples, painting is not an aggression to the body, but a way of transforming it. We, from the Guarani Yvyrupa Commission, an autonomous political organization that articulates the Guarani people in the south and southeast of the country, held on the last day of October 2, 2013, at Av. Paulista, the largest Indigenous demonstration in São Paulo since the Tamoios Confederation. (…) However, many media outlets preferred to report our demonstration as if it had been a depredation of something that white people consider to be a work of art and a public heritage. Leaving Av. Paulista, we marched toward this statue of stone, called the Monument to the Bandeiras, which honours those who massacred us in the past. We climbed it with our banners, and hoisted a red cloth that represented the blood of our ancestors, which was shed by the bandeirantes (aka colonizers), of which white people seem to be so proud. Some non-Indigenous supporters understood the strength of our symbolic act, and painted the monument with red paint. Despite the criticism of some, the images published in the newspapers speak for themselves: with this gesture, they helped us to transform the body of this work at least for a day. She stopped being stone and bled.
It ceased to be a monument in honour of the genocidal who decimated our people and became a monument to our resistance. Occupied by our Xondaro warriors, by our women and children, this new monument has made alive the beautiful and suffering history of our people, crying out to everyone who wants to hear: Stop once and for all the shedding of Indigenous blood in the country! It was only at this moment that this statue became a true public patrimony, because it ceased to serve only the colonizing symbolism of the elites to give voice to us Indigenous peoples, who are the original parcel of Brazilian society. (…) The red paint that some of you consider depredation has already been cleaned and the monument is back again portraying as heroes the people who committed the genocide of our people. Unfortunately, however, we know that the massacres that have occurred in the past against our people and which continue to occur in the present have not ended with this symbolic act and will not cease anytime soon. (…) in São Paulo, the massacre continues, and close to you, we live in tiny lands, without minimum conditions of survival. This is vandalism. We are very saddened by the reaction of some who think that paying homage to these genocidal people is a work of art, and that it is worth more than our lives. How can this statue be considered a patrimony of all if it honours the genocide of those who are part of Brazilian society and of its public life? What kind of society pays tribute to genocides before their survivors? Only those who continue to practice it in the present.
This monument for us represents death. And for us, art is something else. It does not serve to contemplate stones, but to transform bodies and spirits. For us art is the body transformed into life and freedom, and that is what took place in this intervention. Aguyjevete for all who fight!”
– Marcos Tupã
I was born and grew up in the northern part of São Paulo, in the Vila Gustavo neighbourhood, which is part of an area better known as Tucuruvi, a Tupi-Guarani word which, in colonial language, translates to “green grasshopper,” in reference to the beings who inhabited the woods here in large quantities before “they erased everything and painted everything gray.”
It has been eight years since I lived in the city, one of the largest stone jungles of Abya Yala. I’ve been closer to the forests, rivers and seas where my body could submerge, even though we know that what we step on in São Paulo are streets built over rivers; that each manhole is a channel to listen to the sound of the earth; and that many human and non-human flowers are born and resist/re-exist in the asphalt or inside concrete vases.
With the coronavirus pandemic, for various reasons, I had to return to my hood, mainly to support my grandmother’s care.
Back to the gray life, I could lull myself again with the beings who comforted me in my teens: the plants that grew on the curb and whose names my grandmother taught me (she also taught me to listen to them), and the drawings and graffiti on the walls that helped me to see myself when I looked at them. In a flow of re-enchantment with (my) world, I’ve often changed my route back home to connect to a jurubeba that insisted on disrupting the traffic on the sidewalk, or to contemplate the paintings of an Indigenous person with blue skin and red paint over his eyes on several walls hidden throughout the neighbourhood.
If the jurubeba disappears, a fern defies gravity (both the force that pulls it towards the ground and the seriousness of the colonial system) and grows on the wall, and if an Indigenous person is violently erased from the wall, another reappears on another wall in another corner of the hood.
These plants and resilient Indigenous people on the walls spoke to me. I listened to them. I still try to silence myself to learn more from them. This was my first primer on how to rise as an Indigenous person, and to be so alive in the concrete desert.
When I returned to live with my grandma during the pandemic, I felt the loss of so many living beings who were killed in the colony of Brazil during this period, and of my Indigenous friend who lived on a wall in her street and who has been wiped out by gray ink, as well as the tree that they ripped off the street. Whenever I returned to São Paulo, I visited them and took a picture of us.
To their memory and to that of all the human and non-human Indigenous bodies from Tucuruvi (because Indigenous means “natural from the place where she lives, generated within one’s land”) that fell in the struggle to exist full of colour, alive and different from the capitalist murderous logic, I dedicate these rituals SO THAT EVERY WALL-BEING AND HUMAN-BEING THAT WAS COVERED WITH CONCRETE MAY REMEMBER THAT UNDERNEATH THIS CHOKING CRUST THEY ARE ALSO STONE, SAND, CLAY, FLESH, AND BLOOD and, therefore, they can rebuild their lives in other ways.
JENIPAPO AND PRÍ
PAINTING TO BRING OUT WHAT WE HAVE WITHIN
PAINTING TO PROTECT THE INNER SEED FROM THE EVILS THAT COME FROM OUTSIDE
Dear teacher Jenipapo (word in Tupi-Guarani to designate a “fruit to rub” or “fruit that stains”) and dear teacher Prí (the word to designate “blood” in Dzubukuá-Kipeá, language of the Kariri peoples, and which was lovingly taught by our Master Idiane Crudzá Kariri-Xocó, responsible for the remembrance of the language for Kariris’ relatives spread throughout the national territory): Ynatekié (thank you!) for the generosity in teaching us about the importance of touching-changing skins!
For the first ritual, a PHOTOSYNTHETIC perforMAGICAL ACTivation, I co-sensed with:
- GREEN JENIPAPO (which marks the skin for more than 10 days)
- BLOOD THAT ORIGINATES IN MY WOMB (and keeps gushing for about 7 days)
(In the week of the construction of this activation, the unmentionable president of the Brazil colony made one more of his violent and unbearable acts by vetoing a bill that guaranteed the free distribution of sanitary pads to people with a uterus in a situation of social vulnerability. The veto was widely publicized, generating many protest actions across the country. My protest is in my blood too.)
- WALL WITH SEVERAL LAYERS OF HISTORICAL-SOCIAL ERASURE
- MAGIC WORDS, WRITTEN IN BLOOD, RAGE AND ORGASM, CAPABLE OF REVIVING/FREEING HUMAN BODIES AND STONES THAT OTHERS ATTEMPTED TO CEMENT:
>>>>> THERE IS INDIGENOUS BLOOD HERE <<<<<
EVERY WALL WAS ONCE A STONE
EVERY STONE HAS LIFE
BLEED THE STONE AND FREE THE BODIES
PREPARING THE EPIDERMAL AND ENDODERMAL ENCHANTRY:
THE STONES WILL ROLL AND “THE AIR WILL BE NATURAL AGAIN”
Almost all peoples of the world guide themselves by myths and origin stories, creation, foundation. We live under the hegemonic empire of the christian myth of genesis, but there are a thousand and one other stories, because there are many more than a thousand and one other peoples. The Kariri people (of which I belong) also have a myth of origin. And in addition to this myth of origin, there is another story, but this one is about the re-creation of the world and of the Kariri people. In the region known as Cariri, located in the interior of Ceará, where I lived before the pandemic, before returning to São Paulo, there is no one who doesn’t know or retell the kariri prophecy in which the Kariris in that region knew ways of covering and uncovering the springs of Chapada do Araripe (there is even anthropological and archaeological “evidence” to this) as a way of erasing the traces of their escape routes from the bandeirantes, colonizers that came from São Paulo in the XVII century (and from then on) to exterminate them.
There is a great and well-known stone there, the Batateira Stone (now a local tourist spot), that, according to the prophecy, is covering a giant water spring, held by a whale bone, given that in the beginning of the worlds that place was once sea (there is also evidence of this from Western civilizatory science). One day, with the help of the kariris spirits, who would return in the bodies of their descendants, this great stone would be rolled and thus, that spring, Dzu (in the Dzubukuá-Kipeá language), or Mother Water (as it is known in much of the northeastern Sertão), with the very strength of the waters, will flood the whole great Cariri Valley (where the largest cities from the northeastern Sertão are located today, shaping the image of colonial-capitalist “progress”) watering the earth and making other possible lives reborn, connected with this Kariri past, but now in an anti-colonial present-future.
In communion with waters, whales, stones, and other humans and non-humans, as one of those (“descendants”) kariris, with what I am and what I do in the world, I want to help this stone to roll.
Displacing the stone is also displacing the centrality of the human as the only driving force for transforming the world. Here is the pandemic to show us the strength of the virus-being. The humans are only one more force in the social skin change that “will come, it will come because I saw it.”
SUPPORT THAT THE STONES ROLL AND “THE SKY DOES NOT FALL”—STAUNCH THE BLOOD
GENEROSITY IS THE RITUAL ABILITY TO BLEED THE STONY HEART AND TO CONNECT VIA VEINS / FUNGI WITH OTHER HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN BODIES AND SUPPORT THEIR EXISTENCES SO THAT THE SKY DOES NOT FALL.
In describing the “Indians,” the European chroniclers described us as knowing no money and no commerce. Thus, they made us poor and vulnerable to the point that we needed such money to access basic rights (remembering that this “we” also includes the earth itself and its multiple dimensions and living and enchanted beings).
For the second ritual, now a collective one, I invite everyone who has come this far to create their own rituals to obtain some financial resources to be transferred to Indigenous groups. It can be a performance or any artistic expression, passing a hat, organizing a thrift store or selling anything, sharing links to community support requests, soliciting donations directly from someone who is more financially comfortable, organizing a small open-air event, donating some portion of your own funds, among countless options that can raise any amount of money for any Indigenous organization that is publicly requesting support.
As the situation of the native peoples and forests from the region known as Brazil (with all the violence that this naming implies) is quite alarming, I suggest three Indigenous associations that are requesting help through their websites and which I highlight here, among many others: The Guarani Yvyrupá Commission (CGY), the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), and the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples and organizations of the Nordeste, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo (APOINME).
Part of the fee I will receive as an artist in this project will go to the Guarani Yvyrupá Commission and to the Kariri people (which I didn’t list above because we haven’t organized our support requests on a bilingual website yet).
Ynatekié (thank you) to those who struggle to transform bodies (human and non-human) into life and freedom!
The graffiti with the Indigenous apparition on the walls of the Tucuruvi (north of São Paulo/SP) are by the artist Cranio (@cranioartes), to whom I am very grateful for the company and the silent teachings about insurgency and reXistance in the concrete. The graffiti photos were taken by me between 2018 and 2021.
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 Reference to the homonymous poem by João Cabral de Melo Neto. Available at: https://johnryle.com/?article=learning-from-stone.
 The Bandeirantes (literally “flag-carriers”) were slavers, explorers, and fortune-hunters in early Colonial Brazil. They originally aimed to capture and enslave Indigenous people, and later they also began to make expeditions using slave labour in search for gold, silver, and diamond mines, which led them to expand the effective borders of the Brazilian colony.
 Marcos TUPÃ in FORUM. “The Monument to the Bandeiras pays homage to those who massacred us”, says the Indigenous leader. October 5, 2013.
 Allusion to the song Gentileza by Marisa Monte.
 Jurubeba, aka Solanum paniculatum, is a medicinal plant which is common in Brazil.
 Quote from the song Forças da Natureza by Paulo César Pinheiro and interpreted by Clara Nunes.
 Lyrics from the song Um Índio by Caetano Veloso.
 Reference to the book The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman by David Kopenawa Yanomami and Bruce Albert.