Issue 22: Radiant

América Canela

Reading time: 4 minutes



Carísima. Our Rights as Dreams. Yes, I Am, If We Are

With ink, with light, with words, on T-shirts, on networks, in classrooms, on paper and walls, Ame Canela engraves the images we are missing, the brown memory of our streets, faces, and lives to make a new furrow where other possible memories shine.

Where are the newspaper and magazine covers that show these women’s faces on the front page? Those who are continuously stirring the pot and preparing the stew, only now they work double shifts and are forced to wear masks. The lines to receive food in the dining halls have gotten longer, the time it takes families to wait for their pots to be filled has now become hours. But they’re still there, as always, cooking for their community and their neighbors. For me these are the real Powerpuff Girls, the ones who get up early in the morning to go out and fight the hunger of their people with their superpowers.


Remember to look at the sky. Let go of your cell phone and computer for a while. Remember that there is an outside and an other. Don’t get used to surfing the internet alone. What worries me is that as human beings we adapt quickly to things.


The other day I was looking at the portrait of a construction worker and reading his account of how he ended up claiming a piece of land in Guernica. He wondered: How can it be that we who build houses do not have one?

For some time now I have been rethinking my time as a teacher. I used to make and do homework on the floor of my house because, like most of us, I didn’t have much space. Sometimes it is difficult to pursue a career in visual production, where a studio or a comfortable place to work is required to be able to paint on a large scale, sculpt, or engrave. However, I got used to it and to working this way, in my small space in Fátima. Nowadays I have more space to work and I feel very grateful for that. It was during this time that I was able to reflect on how I naturalized this spatial condition and decided that it was not important or determinant, although it was uncomfortable. But I also discovered that it was not only something that happened to me in particular, but that it was a factor that affects most of the children who live in the schools where I work. Sometimes, in production, physical space is necessary for expression and work. I often observe how in some schools where we have spacious classrooms, the children crowd around a single table to work, without realizing that they have other much more comfortable ones. The body naturalizes and adapts to the space we inhabit; it is part of the processes of adaptation of which Darwin already spoke about. In most realities, homes are small and shared with others. That is why I believe that in schools we find that space that we do not have at home, a space that we appropriate, a space in which we run, shout, get to know each other, play tag and ball in the playground, which is our most precious place. All those spaces are ours because we won them; they are recovered territories. Territories that we will soon inhabit again.


The other day it rained. The membrane that covered the metal roof no longer works. I had to use the kitchen pots as buckets, because now there are more leaks. The neighborhood was flooded. I had homework to do. I couldn’t hook up to my neighbor’s Wi-Fi, the connection is bad. I went to the roof to see if I could find another Wi-Fi. From up here, everything looks different. The neighborhood gets really ugly when it rains, but even so, sometimes I feel like swimming here.


The other day with my friend, we realized that we are part of that generation that will not inherit houses from any family member, that we will always have to pay for the roof we live under; and that if our mothers cannot afford one, it will be difficult for this generation. We concluded that we are the renter generation, the generation without a home of our own. As the poet Walter Lezcano says: “There is a word which I don’t know what it means: inheritance”


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