POSTCARDS BY A FEMINIST
The project titled Postcards BY a Feminist has as main source of inspiration the relationship of the women of my family, and especially the relationship between myself and my grandmother Catarina. She was born in a small town of 14 thousand inhabitants in the interior of Minas Gerais,Brazil, where she currently lives. The city of Dores do Indaiá is still marked today by the presence of colonialism and patriarchy, where the man works on the farm and the woman takes care of the house and the children. The city is marked by the red earth, that gets to color the houses of wood to the pike. The beaten earth, the smell of dry grass, the sound of the sleeves falling from the trees, the strong sun that burns the scalp, are visual poetry that mixed with the ideology of patriarchy, make the city a little rough for those who belong to feminine gender.
For my grandmother, her struggle for independence was arduous. The name Catarina means purity. Pure soul, pure body. For Christians, the pure body is one that has never been touched, the one that refuses the carnal and banal pleasures. My grandmother was born, and by her name was "punished" for the purity of Christianity. At 16, Catarina had a subject at the school called Economia, but unlike what we know about economics today, this subject was exclusively dedicated to women. In continuous classes, she learned how to take care of the house, the children, and, of course, the husband. In our conversations alongside the strong coffee and coconut biscuit she always did to greet me, where the clock does not exist and the hours are determined by sunlight, my curiosity to understand her generation where the woman was oppressed within and out of the house I was awakened by the desire to somehow share what those moments represented in my grandmother's life, and look at our history what was, or better still, is, our main source of strength to continue fighting for a society in relation to gender inequality.
This project is only possible because my grandmother's Economy notebook is still in good condition and legible. A 1959 notebook that is divided between the housekeeping, the decor, the household utensils, the clothes, the care of the baby and the husband. All this decorated in perfect harmony, with collages of magazines of the time that exalt the role of woman as housewife, wife and mother. It is interesting to note that in the notebook there is no section where there is advice of beauty or care for the woman herself, the "Economy" was a step-by-step how to be who you are not, and how to be the other woman, wife and perfect mother. And from there my questions: Where does the woman define herself as an individual in a society marked by so many oppressive signs? How could my grandmother be her own without being Catarina?
In this work, I seek more questions than answers.
With this notebook, which now brings us both past and present, not only from my grandmother's story but from the history of our family's women, I have been able to develop different ways of questioning those signs that were essential for the stereotyping of women in relation to our society. With the photograph, I try to get the answers that instigate me as a woman and an artist.
In that sense, I searched for some sentences written in my grandmother's notebook and attached them to the series of images that I developed, where they do not necessarily dialogue with each other, in order to create a discomfort between image and text. The phrases are exactly the same ones written by my grandmother in 1959, and the photos taken in 2017 in Paris, France. The use of black and white photography is intended to create timeless images. Self-portraits, now present with my body, now present with my gesture (use of my everyday objects photographed) are the means to represent my relationship with photography, my grandmother's story, and the history of other women. In this work I use photography as a vector to open the dialogue on the oppressive signs of patriarchy. In the five images produced for the project, where I mix the sentences of my grandmother's notebook with the images made in Paris, a story is woven, a fiction between dream and reality. I leave open the interpretation: for every Brazilian woman who has received an image at the address of her home, this one writes on her back what the image and the sentence represent for her. In an open manner, each of them writes freely and without judgment. it is important to note that the contact between these women and myself was made via the social network Facebook (in a group of Brazilian women in Paris), without intimate interaction (I did not ask their age, nor their occupations; nor their profession) with the participants, I asked them to say what the picture and the sentence represent for each.Thus the anonymity of each one is preserved, and the relation between the postcards and the answers intermingles in an intimate way, as if by the postcards they could say the things without being judged. It is interesting to note the commitment of these women to the project, they do not know me, and nothing material was offered in exchange, not even the postcard itself, as they should write and send me the same card received. There was also no return period, and to my surprise, of the 40 postcards sent in February 2018, 18 replies were received in 15 days. Through solidarity and unity, the project has begun to gain strength with all these stories now intertwined with mine. I wonder about the burden that patriarchy has caused and provoked in the daily life, individual and collective, of these women, that like me, left their country because they believed in a dream, and now share their experiences, their ambitions and their disappointments.
To conclude, it was essential to think of the first inspiration of the artist, who used a notebook of his grandmother to talk about the family and the intimacy of some women who are still marked by the same oppressive signs of patriarchy of old. The notebook, which today becomes a sentimental object and a historical document, has revealed to the artist a new way of discovering and exploring photography as contemporary art. It was interesting to note that with this project, photography can be a vehicle for common reflection, where people who are not in the art world can also share their ideas and share their individual experiences. With this, we can see that even today, when it comes to gender equality, it is still necessary to talk about the subject and explore the many ways to find a more egalitarian, human and sensitive world. the suffering of the other.
Written by leticia zica