Through a call to recognize ourselves in a non-binary space starting from our asshole in motion, artist Jenny Granado, a.k.a. Maldita Geni Thalia, questions the current denial of the end of a world to delve into the vital momentum that lies within mutual care and self-defense.
ABRÁZAME QUE EL TIEMPO PASA Y ESE NO SE DETIENE [Hold me, for time is passing and it won’t stop]
— Juan Gabriel, Abrázame muy fuerte
Are you really gonna stand there staring at me?
— Abra, Fruit
Find a link below to the Instinto Perreo podcast to accompany the text and let it keep ringing out when it’s over.
I once heard a leader of the Indigenous Krenak people describe a metaphor for the age we are living in. The image referred to our present apocalyptic moment as well as the inability of governments to protect and respect the sovereignty of the different Indigenous peoples of Abya Yala, and especially the abandonment of projects dedicated to the safeguarding of the Indigenous populations of the Amazon basin. This image speaks not only of this world in which we are immersed but that it is allied with other worlds as well: it speaks of me, of you, of all of us. It is the image of a canoe in which we are all sitting. We have gotten into it and we can no longer jump out. It is floating over planet Earth and it is sinking.
In 2014, I started running a high fever that has continued to come and go to this day. It was this fever that caused me to move from Brazil to Mexico, to see if things would improve a bit. But that isn’t exactly what happened. Some two and a half years ago, I realized that the whole Earth was running a temperature, and it didn’t matter where I moved … At some point or another, every corner of the world was going to catch fire. So, I keep on sweating, and my mouth gets drier and drier.
I sweat when I open Twitt*r, I sweat on Instagr*m and F*cebook, and the same is true for every social network, news outlet, and online currency converter. I feel broken. I am worried about my family, my health, my finances, my emotional and sexual life. The only way I have found to deal with this anxiety is to breathe deeply and remain in the present. If I think too much, I will sink before the canoe does.
According to Robert Farris Thompson, the word “funk” has its semantic origins in the word lu-fuki in the Kikongo language, meaning “bad body odor” in English—the result of the exercise of vitality. The Afro-Brazilian musician and researcher Tiganá Santana has noted that in the Bantu-Kongo cosmology, liquids like saliva, blood, and sweat evoke the fluid possibility of experience. To breathe in the sweat of an older person who has lived more (and thus sweat more) is to receive a portion of their strength, of their experience.
Perhaps we are breathing in the sweat brought on by the Earth’s fever. Could it be that our vision is becoming blurred from so much sweat?
In the first decades of the twentieth century, the description “bad-smelling” was used pejoratively by white people in the United States as part of their racist narrative about people of African descent. It isn’t a coincidence that funk music—descended in turn from jazz, blues, gospel, and African musical traditions—derives its name from an appropriation of the aforementioned insult; taking on the name was a form of protest as well as a way of preserving the value of the term’s roots, which contained the possibility of power, recognition, and reconciliation.
How bad does this canoe stink? If we begin to breathe in the smell of the Earth, we will be able to begin the process of unlearning and together transcend this global fever that exceeds the bounds of our thought, conformed by the colonial experience into a fictional, racist, binary system? And what if we can do this while dancing and activating our entire pelvic region to intense reggaeton or funk?
Every day I dream of a great threat to the colonial fiction: a space-time where, together, we can sweat and feel the rhythm of the concave and convex movement of hips. Maybe by sweating and sensing, we can elevate political spaces; maybe we can transition to spaces that are also emotional. Sweating with our bodies, sweating with the Earth, and not thinking.
I’m tired of thinking.
I think too much and I don’t have the right answers,
and it exhausts me that I’m expected to have them.
There is nothing more oracular than intuition
and this has cost me many blows.
Writing about something that goes beyond what I’m capable of explaining
makes my vagus nerve go tense,
gives me a lump in my throat.
I am talking about this because I can’t let the opportunity to speak up pass me by.
Tiganá Santana poses a question that I find particularly powerful: “What platforms have been established in order to give life? And what platforms have been established for the life we live?”
The world that is coming to an end is male. A male who lives inside of me, who holds me back when I want to cry. I want to cry more. What compulsory hegemonic masculinization of feelings was it that educated my blood relatives and them, me? My inheritance. “Be strong, be a strong woman.”
Being strong is tiring, you know?
I also want to be taken care of.
I want time to rest, to enjoy myself.
Trauma is also digestive. Speaking as the world ends, I keep learning how to digest certain feelings in my stomach, how to shit without straining or nervous diarrhea. Making my bio-machine work, hacking a self-destructive organism without losing my guts in the process isn’t easy. I’m dry, my mouth is dry, my skin is dry, my thoughts are drying out. The only thing that is still wet is my vagina and that’s not a coincidence—but that’s a story for another day. My body is drying up from looking for answers to the problems of a society that is sick and closed in on itself, a society where exclusivity is overvalued and embraces are restrained for obvious reasons that cause me even more anxiety. It always worries me that my friends and I should have to be trans-feminists, cuirs, cimarrones, that we have to take on the responsibility of seeking out strategies, tactics, and new forms of organization while you all continue on without asking yourselves who you are, where you are, and what conditions have brought us (and you) to this point.
You want answers? Where do you stand in the canoe? Are you really gonna stand there staring at me? What pronouns do you use? Have you already asked yourself why your economic system is cis? Why your bodies and pants are cis? Why that “cis” is on the same side as progress, extractivism, racism, abuse, corporations? How so much of what you complain about is the symptom of the disease that is the cis-tem? You complain about the pain, but how are you taking care of yourself and who are you taking care of? Who validates you?
It makes me sick that a large part of my artwork exists because as a society we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Because as individuals we are drowning. My fever goes up just thinking about the fact that I need to build economic and emotional stability, even when I don’t believe in upward mobility or a straight, secure path. A straight, secure path doesn’t exist without extractivism and accumulation. I don’t believe in security; I believe in trust. Police handle security and look how well that has worked out. It makes me sick that my femininity could cost me my life. It makes me sick that they want to whiten my work so that it will become more popular. But remaining silent with fears that are not my own hurts me even more. I am no longer afraid to answer incorrectly and end up without a job—anyways, there aren’t even jobs to be had: I have had to invent a place for myself for a long time. I am breathing in the sweat, concentrating on my present, learning to pick my battles.
As Musa Mattiuzzi, an incredible artist and great friend, says: “I can no longer speak to those who don’t understand that the world has already ended.”
I can’t speak to those who don’t understand which end of the world I’m talking about—the fall of the world’s systems, from which we no longer need to seek validation, for which we no longer need to look for the right answers that align with a catalog of erroneous and anthropocentric questions posed in the name of progress towards a future that has been left behind. An aseptic future, designed from a blinding whiteness. Maybe the past is once more ahead of us. Maybe it will be a time when we can see with our eyes closed.
See through darkness.
Through the mist.
The past will no longer be colonized.
As the extraterrestrial Bilu would say: search for knowledge.
If we are still living without recognizing ourselves, without knowing where we come from or which lands we are moving through, then how can we possibly recognize others? How can we respect the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples? Understand where the Other ends and I begin?
Recognize. Don’t discover. Recognize.
Take your time to calm your breathing, inhaling deeply through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth.
Align the sacrum.
Through desculonización movement, platforms, the practice of dance and the body, frequencies, and a presence which I began in 2015, I propose that we build consciousness of our own bodies and share them communally amongst ourselves, taking advantage of our singularities; relax the anus, an invisible order of movement that opens up other forms of existence in the present and delineates possibilities for the hacking of that system, for the hacking of our bodies and the hacking of our ideas. If you have one, relax your vagina. Resituating ourselves, unlearning, making ruptures, finding our potential as well as recognizing our vulnerabilities, crying. Align the sacrum. I believe that a part of ancestral knowledge is sharing, and sharing fluids with those who can’t live in their bodies in this world without running risks is powerful; weird people, sluts, because even though we all occupy the many landscapes of the hierarchies of power, we don’t all run the same risks. Inhale, hold, release the anus, exhale. We must learn to listen more sensitively, surrounded as we are by so many silent frequencies.
Many traumas reside in the ass. Guilt. Who, what, which events, and which misfortunes have brought us to these spaces and allowed us not only to occupy them but to remain in them? Is it possible to digest with the ass? Making our bodies present in this space and in this time as it passes, while I ask myself what I’m looking for here, and how.
What side does time pass on? Is there a side? Is it in front, on the side, from the bottom to the top, across, in a spiral? Perreando hard, just as time perreas my body?
I’m not talking about god, I’m talking about historical constructions—with an “S.” What storieS, eventS, tragedieS, and dreamS have allowed me to occupy and remain in that space? How much of it remains in my viscera? Trauma. And do the stories that have been told to me reside on a certain side of time? What side am I on? Am I on the side that they assigned to me, am I cis, am I trans? How does one practice this space? How does one practice a non-binary space?
What is the vital impulse that keeps me alive? How many of me before me have died? And how many of me have died so that that other me could live?
I refuse to define desculonazación. If anything, bodies define it. There is much more there than that which fits into concepts and slogans. My work is not to define it, but to move it. To me, it seems important to name that which it is uncomfortable to name. I know that naming generates different experiences, but I am also conscious that I don’t want to fall into a rigid taxonomy or into the armor that is language within the rationalizing Western system that entraps my thinking.
Hold me, for time is passing and it won’t stop.
Textual assistance: Aranza Cortés Karam
Copyediting: Fuego Andrea