"Winged", max willá morals. Photo: Guilherme Sorbello/Courtesy Sé Galeria

*By Claudinei Roberto da Silva

Among us, an extensive cultural, ideological, legislative, religious and media apparatus was created to justify, meet and guarantee the permanence of privileges of that part of the population that directly or indirectly benefited from them. And this, of course, at the expense of dehumanization, the objectification of those who do not participate in this group, whether they are black, indigenous or those who demonstrate a gender identity different from the dominant one. At the root of Brazilian reactionaryism are heteronormativity, toxic machismo, class hatred, racism and pathological aversion to the different, to the divergent body that does not reflect the ideal that enshrines the adult, white, bourgeois man in power.
This reality becomes explicit in times of pandemic and necropolitics, in time to count the dead at the base of the Brazilian social pyramid, to count the result of centuries of contempt for the lives of those who do not belong to what among us is conventionally called “elite”. But as Castro Alves wrote in the epic Slaveship: "And there is a people that the flag lends to cover so much infamy and cowardice". The poem is from 1868 and the auriverde pendão of our land continues to serve the people of the shroud. However, depending on where it comes from, the answer of the excluded has the force of the fertilizing phallus of Exu, life invokes Eros, refusing the utilitarian thinking that sees the indigenous as lazy and the black as a beast of burden.

Certain peripheral thinking (periphery here is understood as power, not lack and deficient structure) has always praised the party as a privileged place for the elaboration of vibrant subjectivities. Hence the demonization of parties by the heralds of necropolitics. Born in 1993, Tadaskia Wíllà Oliveira Morais, better known as max willá morals, is a visual artist, writer, performer, educator, researcher, trans and black woman. I was introduced to her work by the clairvoyant curator from Pernambuco, Clarissa Diniz.

The artist is represented in São Paulo by See Gallery and I met her in person at pivot, where he was in residence and participated, at the invitation of the Colombian curator Catalina Lozano, in the group show A natural history of the ruins – on display until April 17. Recently some of his works were also present in the auroras, where, through the sensitive articulation of the curator Gisela Domschke, they were in dialogue with works by José Leonilson from Ceará. THE TUE (Museu de Arte do Rio) has also hosted his recent production.

View of the exhibition “A natural history of ruins”, in Pivô. Photo: Everton Ballardin/Courtesy Sé Galeria and artist

The growing interest in the artist's work is the result of the advance of struggles against the invisibility and resulting epistemicide of divergent bodies and is also fully justified by the poetic thickness expressed in this production. They are drawings, two-dimensional, sewing, paintings, installations, photographs and actions that the artist calls “apparitions”, which create a universe based on the invisible and the visible, that is, on the ritualized rescue of her black, Afro-diasporic, her syncretic religiosity and in the organization of a material world that gives new and sensual meaning to the subjects on which the artist works. The drawings that I had access to are particularly powerful and that can be seen at Pivô. They are, I suppose, the expression of a body that has not been domesticated, they distinguish an attitude, they are fluid, atmospheric, sometimes they give the impression of volatility without, however, being incorporeal. They are perfectly contained in the crooked edges of the paper that the artist cuts with her hands. There is something Tropicalista in the artist and in her project, the operations she performs are serious, blunt and incisive, yet they do not bring any trace of seriousness. On the contrary, there is a lyrical sense of humor, something acid perhaps, running through these narratives that often in the case of his drawings and sewing are presented in compositions of enormous delicacy and freshness. A delicacy that, incidentally, is conferred on the drawings by the sensitive use that the artist makes of the materials she uses, colored pencils, watercolors, pens, nail polish. The artist's family nucleus is sometimes engaged in some of her actions that imply the construction and use of hybrid, relational objects, which investigate and propose relationships between those bodies and the proletarian architecture they inhabit.

Garden brutality – Tropicália and the emergence of the Brazilian counterculture (São Paulo, Editora UNESP, 2009, translated by Cristina Yamagami) is the result of research by American professor Christopher Dunn, a researcher at the prestigious Tulane University in New Orleans. I met the professor when he visited the Afro Brazil Museum institution where he worked at the time as coordinator of the Education Nucleus. As the professor writes: “The Tropicalista project manifested itself in a period of intense political and cultural conflicts in Brazil, simultaneously criticizing the military regime and the national-popular project of the left”. I have the impression that the work of max willámoralis is part of this “tradition” of insubmission when the artist refutes the explicit political engagement so marked in a certain part of Afro-Brazilian artistic production in favor of a rhetoric of freedom and sensualist lyricism. This hedonism, before any inconsistency, works in favor of a politics of the body very much in keeping with the counterculture mentioned by Dunn in the title of his work. And on second thought, the body and the work coincide in max willá morals and are, in a certain sense, a pro-life pronouncement and an offense and an antidote to necropolitics and its practices.


*Claudinei Roberto da Silva is a visual artist, curator and professor of Arts Education at USP. He was coordinator of the Education Center at the Afro Museum, co-curator of the 13th edition of the Bienal Naïfs do Brasil and curator of several exhibitions, including PretAtitude.

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