The name of the Work is missing, from the series Axs Nossxs Filhxs, 2021

Art for Lia D Castro is practical and technical, she emphasizes, at all times, in her conversation with arte!brasileiros. In his creations, he works with oil on canvas, woodcut, charcoal, dry pastel chalk, pen and even adhesive plaster. Art, for Lia, is also a process. at the exhibition The reflected complicity, which Galeria Jaqueline Martins will be showing until March 18 – and which will soon move to its branch in Brussels (Belgium) – the artist showed paintings and photographs taken over seven years, in paid sex programs, with cisgender men, heterosexual, black and white, ages 18 to 25.

In these meetings, the artist discussed transphobia and racism, based on the reading of authors such as Angela Davis, Chinua Achebe, Achille Mbembe, Toni Morrison and Lélia Gonzalez, among others. Transsexual, black, Lia used prostitution as a “dialogue tool”.
“As a transgender woman, it would be very difficult to call for interviews with these men. I ended up using what is given to us on a compulsory basis, which is prostitution”, she says. “So, at first, they came to me through prostitution. They paid me for the first, second and third dates. From the fourth, I said that, instead of paying me in money, they could pay me with information, for us to build a decolonial narrative in which I question what racist relationships are like for these young people”.

The artist says that, of the nearly 700 men who passed through her house over the years, she reached a group of 50 who accepted her proposal. She cites, as an example, a boy named Johnny, whom she identified as a racist, and with whom she read Angela Davis, in the intervals between sex, “so that he could recognize himself as a white aggressor”. As in all programs, Lia took notes, recorded and later transcribed some conversations, which later served as the basis for lectures given by her. Advice on preventing and combating racism and transphobia in the job market, for companies such as streaming platforms.

“This was the first moment of the project, in 2017, when I was invited by Amazon, later by HBO, Amazon, Netflix, the Goethe Institute and some Sesc units, to provide this assistance”, explains the artist. “After two or three years, I asked them how they would like to materialize those discussions and be portrayed to the world, with what colors and paints, because they knew he was an artist. They also had the right to choose the final result, eliminating, for example, photographs they didn't like”.

From there came the series presented in A complicity reflected: with young whites, Their children also practice; with the blacks, Axs nossxs filhxs. The series also came out of the project The Crossing of the Rubicon, about hormone therapy for her transition and about 800 other transsexual women, the vast majority of whom were prostitutes, with whom she also talked about those topics over the same period.

With Davi, present in the Axs nossxs sons series, Lia says that she talked a lot about the idea of ​​building affection within an exhibition space – like the gallery itself that exhibited her work. “We were creating new narratives, showing, for example, that black people can also be inside a museum, or reading on a sofa, in a room that also has works of art. In order to generate empathy, after all, they, the blacks, also go to exhibitions, they also read”.

Once the narratives materialized, the works were then signed by the boys themselves, often with their own names. In some of them, the young people also selected and wrote excerpts from the books read at the meetings. Like Apolo, who placed the phrase “he who is worthy of being loved” in the painting that portrayed him, the title of a book by the Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa.

To talk about the violence to the body represented by hormone therapy, Lia resorted to still lifes. She painted vases of flowers, on a white fabric, with a black background. In this series, The Crossing of the Rubicon, Lia makes a sequence of flowers, which bloom and culminate in a bouquet, arranged in a “corner” of the gallery, “because it is in the corners that we, trans women, collectively talk about therapy”, she says.

There are also self-portraits, in which Lia paints her genitals or part of her chest. And naked torsos, in which the adhesive tape, a recurring material in her creations, serves as a T-shirt, with which she finishes undressing. The artist explains that the material symbolizes “something that protects what was once hurt, and is already undergoing repair”.

within the series Your children also practice, Lia brings a work that she considers romantic, Residue from the night before, made with the young Bruno, with whom she decided to try another support: a sheet, still with the traces of sex between the two. already the series The self-portrait triptych, in which few agreed to participate, brings another experiment: in a box, polaroids of the boys – who initially photographed the penis, but later started to record a foot, chest, hand – are flanked by the condoms used in the relationship. In the portraits, there are also the books that the young people had chosen to discuss.

Born in 1978, in Martinópolis (SP), Lia lived until she was 20 on farms in the interior of São Paulo and other states, because her father worked as a self-taught agronomist, according to her. Lia worked in the fields, milked cows, finished high school.
In 2010, a friend invited her to live in São Paulo. She was opening a handicraft shop and an atelier, where Lia would teach. At the time, the artist was already using canvas and oil paint. She has always drawn and painted, inspired by her parents' own handicraft activities. Stimulated to continue her studies, this time in higher education, Lia took a visual arts course at the Centro Universitário Ítalo Brasileiro, where she claims to have realized how a college promotes “intellectual whitening”.

Lia complains that professors predominantly cited European artists and that, when they mentioned Brazilians, they were restricted to the Week of 22. She graduated at almost 35, in 2016. She did internships in the educational area of ​​Sesc and at the 30th Bienal de São Paulo, curated by Luis Pérez Oramas. There, she reflected on how it would be possible to leave a place, with 4 works, the least oppressive possible for the public, inside a construction, in turn, monumental.

After graduating, she continued in the educational field, this time at Sesc Pompeia. It was from there that she began her research with young people. In 2019, before the pandemic, she made her first individual with the series Axs our filhxs, at the Çarê Institute, in São Paulo. The pandemic came and, she says, she made “a lot of money” by opening her home to prostitution. She was also invited to do online advisory services, amid health restrictions.

Lia ends her stay at Galeria Jaqueline Martins with an invitation to participate in a collective of 200 black artists, at Sesc Belenzinho, in the middle of the year. But his project – or process – did not end with the exhibition finalized in March. Lia says that she has more than 300 photos, which she can transpose into painting, or even texts, which can also be worked on artistically. What has already been seen, she says, “is a tip of the iceberg of what I am creating for the world”.

Of the young people with whom he worked and is working on his project, he says he does not charge anything a posteriori. “My job, as a researcher of this anthropology of hate, is to provide information. What they will do with it later, I will no longer be responsible. But I do a test with some ”, she says. She gives the example of young Emerson, whom she met when he was 23 years old.

“Emerson was one of the richest boys I ever met. I remember that he told about an employee with whom he had his sexual initiation. And he always spoke of it as if it were a lamp, that it was there, to be turned on or off. I agreed with him that, to go back to my house, it wasn't enough to say it was cool. I had to bring me, at the very least, a payslip before and after our conversation. With an increase, a sign of historical financial reparation, at least”, he concludes. ✱

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