I have been telling stories since I can remember. My mother says that since I started to speak, I would invent tales about domestic objects, people, nature. I would explain them to anyone – and if there was no listener, I would explain those tales out loud to myself, to my dolls, to my pets. I do remember telling those stories, but I don’t remember the feeling of inventing them. Maybe making those notes on reality were as natural as playing, eating and sleeping, with no rational thinking related to it. It was like that probably because I was raised in family in which oral tradition was very strong, composed of lots of loving women (my mom plus seven aunts) and absent and/or violent men. My grandmother was a former amateur actress and my adorable grandfather, the only male figure who had a positive impact on my upbringing, was a small family farmer, community organizer and environmentalist.
There was a LOT of talking going on, on our household. Stories about countryside traditions, human nature, urban legends, natural disasters, death, love, miracles, revolutions and other grandiose things were common on our dinner table, family gatherings etc. One also has to consider that, growing up in 80’s as I did, during the hangover of Brazilian military dictatorship, language was used in a tricky way and those stories were told in highly metaphorical ways. Fiction had to be everywhere, even if the story that was being told was based in real events, because fictionalizing could provide some security – it could avoid trouble with the military police and the supporters of the regime.
I went on to study Journalism, whose practices informs my work in every aspect until today, but the main influence, I mean the reason I do things the way I do, comes from my Mom and my Grandfather who, despite lack of education (he could barely write), always encouraged me to ask as much questions as posible – and go and try to understand why things are as unjust as they are. He encouraged me to connect the dots and try to bring a perspective that goes beyond the mere “this is how I see the world, therefore this is how the world must be”. Besides that, their love of people, their respect for the elderly and our ancestors, their endless interest and worry about others – these things are still a big influence in my writing, my photography and my political practices.
For lack of material resources, I could not finish Journalism school, and only 10 years later could I study Photography, this time in Berlin (at Ostkreuzschule, which I financed working as waiter, babysitter, life model and other precarious/alienated jobs). But, still, my work with documentary poetry and documentary photography exist because of how I was raised. To this day I try to apprehend “real” stories, and recreate them and politicize them, but in a metaphorical manner, the same way the women in my family used to do on the dinner table, almost 40 years ago.