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Interview with T. Angel

T. Angel / Felipe Mazzucatto, 2020

CSS: In relation to what was the world of body modification, does the LGBTQIA+ community have something to celebrate?

T. Angel: Good question. I think the first point is to understand that there is no world of body modification without the LGBTQIA+ community. Not before, not now and probably not in the future either. In other words, without the LGBTQIA+ community the world of body modification might not exist or would exist in another way. The contemporary piercing segment, for example, is all the result of the unfolding and work of LGBTQIA+ people. In this sense, as an LGBTQIA+ community, we do not have much to celebrate in relation to the present time of the world of body modification, we have always been circulating and building safe and intersectional spaces within a complex field. The world of body modification - especially in our Brazilian case - needs to recognize and learn from these relationships, value the contributions of LGBTQIA+ people to their professions and cultures and, from there, seek to improve. Fighting LGBTphobia in the middle is urgent, as its existence is the denial of our own history. I think that's why I tend to defend the idea and highlight the differences between the body modification community and the freak community.

CSS: Do you notice any evolution in the studios, in terms of respect?

T. Angel: There is a kind of slow evolution, which follows the rest of society, but it has happened (and as I said, it has always happened, because the struggle of the LGBTQIA+ movement is constant). At the same time, we also have the opposite and considering that we are talking about structural and institutional violence, they end up being stronger. I believe the 2018’s brazilian elections opened up what I'm talking about. Overtly fascist or neo-nazi-leaning studios felt comfortable showing their face. And it's not a new phenomenon, in the body modification community everything has always existed, these people just felt comfortable with the wave that brought us to the bottom of the well we are in. And there is the “neutral”, “exempt” group, and also, the one that does not assume itself as fascist but that articulates itself in the world in tune with this type of ideology. As Gramsci would say, “I hate the indifferent”.

My work in the midst of body modification - community-focused and freak theory - right now is projecting into the future, which I probably won't see, but I want to get out of this realm knowing that I tried to leave seeds. Lighthouse, you know? And also as a pest within a violent logic of compulsory normativity that meets the logic and interest of capital, cisheteronormativity, capacitism, sexism, speciesism and whiteness.

CSS: Do you see the possibility of a plan? Seeing Body Art as a class?

T. Angel: I understand the group of people with body modifications as a category of difference, that is, as a social marker of difference (and which is almost always ignored as such). We need, of course, to consider the assimilation by the hegemony and the capital of some techniques, such as tattooing and piercing and, in this sense, be aware of their way forward to meet a demand for normativity and bourgeoisie. On the other hand, we have the freak category that poses itself not as an identity, but as a possibility of creating a problem, just like the queer, however, with its specificities. Blurring the configurations of what is understood as a human body, playing with all borders, enhancing the diversity of life, enhancing life itself within a system of necropolitics, like ours... And, above all, with a sensitivity and criticality of the world (and of itself) with, then, class consciousness, with awareness of its (non) place in the world as it is configured. I walk more along these paths... A good part of the body modification community - post assimilation - thinks they are elite, wants to be elite and reproduces the violent mentality of the middle class. Dona Florinda ¹ syndrome, you know?

CSS: Financially, we can mention the LGBTQIA+ parade (among so many possibilities), to exemplify how prejudiced studios are losing, and we know that some people only think with their pocket, could this be a path?

T. Angel: Honestly? I don’t think so. And if the concern in looking at our people <with humanity> is to win or not to lose financially, we are already talking about a wrong premise. I think education is the way. Not just any education, but one that is and is focused on the emancipation of people and that is also set beyond capital. A liberating education as proposed by Paulo Freire, Bell Hooks and so many people working in education, which is very difficult to achieve within a system that makes poor people believe they are to blame for their poverty, that nonsense of meritocracy. And it is not education alone either, but a set of forces, institutions and people committed to the real transformation of the world. What has always existed too and, for that alone, we are postponing the end of the world.

We must also consider that we live in a complex and painful time. We see racist, LGBTphobic, sexist people/companies that, when they come out as such, increase their number of followers, gain new support, close new contracts... We see aggressors and abusers of women working as if nothing had happened... Anyway.

I don't want to be around companies/people who care about the lives and dignity of my people (whether LGBTQIA+ or freak) based on how much money they will make or lose. This kind of mentality is part of the deep and historical problem that underlies our markedly colonized country.

CSS: Thanks so much for the chat! This final space is yours, so say anything you want!

T. Angel: Thank you so much for the conversation space. Defend free, secular and quality public education. Defend science. Regularize your voter registration, vote consciously and organize to strengthen people and spaces that promote life. Let's stop making stupid people famous. Kisses to all!

¹ Dona Florinda is a character in the series "Chavo del ocho", a poor woman who insists on trying to act and be seen as someone of high social status.

The opinion of the columnist is not necessarily an opinion of Coletivo Sala Solidária.


T. Angel

Historian, author of the book 'The History of Body Modification in Brazil -1980-1990'.

Creator of FRRRKguys platform.

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