All Conceivable Freedoms
14 burnt photographs (50x60cm each), sound piece (3:17 min), charcoal writing
Documentation photos: Nayara Leite
“[One day this kid] will be subjected to loss of home, civil rights, jobs, and all conceivable freedoms. All this will begin to happen in one or two years when he discovers he desires to place his naked body on the naked body of another boy.”
The expulsion from their homes by their mothers, fathers, grandparents. The rejection, violence and pain caused by the people who were supposed to love them unconditionally. They were very much loved and cherished throughout their childhood, but this affection promptly turned into hate the moment they revealed their true sexuality. Despite the considerable progress regarding civil rights for homosexuals made these last ten years in Brazil, my home country, the ignorance on this subject there is colossal.
By immersing myself into the family archives of six Brazilian homosexuals, I have produced an audiovisual reconstruction of their memories. On the main wall of an enclosed space, photographs from their childhood were displayed. I asked them to send me pictures of happy, meaningful moments of that time and, as a way of evoking all the damage that affected their lives when they came out a few years later, I meticulously burned the photographs. Defacing the parents or grandparents was a choice I made in order to take away their identity – a violent act that can be compared to the cruelty of rejecting your own child or grandchild. One picture is missing in the grid for a reason: one of the interviewees couldn’t provide any photographs as her father had set fire to all her belongings when he found out that she was in love with a woman. On the other walls, I have surrounded the burnt images with handwritten words, these words being the hurtful ones uttered by those who robbed them of the freedom of being themselves inside their own home. The final component in the installation is the sound piece with the powerful testimonies I gathered from the six people. So as to preserve the original language and yet still be understood by an English-speaking audience, the testimonies were recorded in Portuguese and in English.
As a Brazilian homosexual myself, I understand what it’s like to live in a place where you are persecuted for loving someone of your own gender. So when I listened to these six people’s stories, my heart bled. I saw their pain and realised how lucky I was for having such a loving and caring family, but couldn’t stop thinking about those who did not. This project is about these people. It is about their struggle to be who they truly are even when their own family tries to deny them this freedom.
Click here to listen to the sound piece: https://vimeo.com/285741482