Profiles in Regeneration: Igor, 24, Rio de Janeiro
Please keep on the pathway you feel is the right way to live and then find the people that are feeling the same as you. Be open and willing to be affected and questioned, build bridges and trust your community.
Before Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current president, was elected, Igor Furtado dressed however he wanted, “I used to walk around the streets as a clown, totally colorful, and almost naked sometimes. The most outrageous things you can possibly imagine.” But since his election, things have changed for Igor, and he has become less present in the queer scene, since there seems to be fewer safe spaces to exist as a community.
These feelings, of both the fear within and the need for community, is a large part of what Igor wants to address with his magazine. But more than that, he hopes the magazine will serve as an ever expanding archive of the Brazilian (and Latinx) LGBTQ+ community. Because unlike the U.S. and many European countries, “[The Brazilian queer community’s history] is actually being destroyed, because people don’t want us to keep this knowledge alive. And as Brazil is the country with highest rates of murder and violence against queer people all over the world, I think it’s very important to build this archive of possibilities and let artists with different backgrounds share them.”
— Remi Riordan
Watch Regenerative Futures’ video profile here.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Igor Furtado: I’m feeling anxious about several urgent issues that have been overlapping for ages and couldn’t be totally understood by someone who doesn’t live here. Brazil is the country with the highest rates of murder against LGBTQ+ people in the world, the second in deaths by COVID-19, the fifth in feminicide. We have the police that kills the most. More than 75% of all of those deaths are of Black people. At the same time, we are facing strong deforestation, natural disasters, scrapping of education and art institutions, and the disappearance of archives. A fire and a flood have recently destroyed Brazil’s National Museum and parts of the Brazilian Cinematheque. The currently named president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a genocidal militant who has been elected by the power of a hypocritical and ultra-conservative elite. Although there’s resistance against everything that is happening, it’s very challenging to formulate successful strategies to transform the colonial structures this country is built upon. I wish LGBTQ+ Latin Americans could have more support from powerful financial allies, to not just talk about changes we envision, but actually help us produce it.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
IF: It’s not really a secret, nor exclusively an online thing, but I’m obsessed about researching visualities. I’m always looking for things I haven’t seen before and that have the capacity of making me question my certainties and go deep in thought.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
IF: I’m reading Devassos no Paraíso for the second time. The book is a lifetime’s worth of research, by João Silvério Trevisan, that analyzes and recovers the undervalued history of the LGBTQ+ community in Brazil, from the time of the colonies until today.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
IF: I try not to believe in messiahs, superheroes, or unreachable podiums. There are hundreds of people that are of huge importance to me, whether family, friends, or personalities who inspire me.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
I was around 20, discovering my own self expression, and feeling that there was a lack of publications that were thinking about image construction and featuring powerful and diverse Brazilian LGBTQ+ content, both in the past and present. Identidades Marginais started as research, through photography and multiple interviews, of how artifice and creativity are essential in not only identity construction and affirmation, but also as preservation of non-hegemonic discourses. Disregarding sexualized, defamatory, and stereotyped representation in the media, we had few more accessible visual archives of our community in the past. I wanted to start this journey to see where it would take me, the inspiring people I would be able to meet and collaborate with. After two years, I had to put the publication on hold because I found no support. I decided to keep sharing my visual research in social media and in every opportunity I had, I tried to reconcile my work as a photographer with the project’s mission. Last year, I was able to exhibit a series at the Sexual Diversity Museum in São Paulo and to shoot a couple of portraits of Gabe Passareli that were featured in the CHIME for Change zine’s spotlight of Brazil. Those opportunities gave me the fuel to remain sharing stories and restarting the project, with a more precise perspective and articulated proposal then before.
RF: In two years time, what would your project’s success look like?
IF: In two years, we would be able to expand our community and collaborative base to a wider range of territories and visions. Despite getting bigger in reach, our goal would still be to project to a global audience an archive of independent talents that are shaping culture and expression in Brazil and Latin America — giving space to people who usually do not find it in mainstream institutions. Our intention is to become a platform with multiple collaborators, producing not only interviews and profiles, but also essays, news, and quality exclusive audio and visual content. All of our initiatives and collaborations would be paid to stimulate the LGBTQ+ economy and its autonomy. In that sense, the publication would be an investment in the past, present, and future. We can only achieve this new world, if we respect and learn from the people and their struggles that came before as well as spreading the word and amplifying the voices of those who continue to experience the same struggles. But most importantly, to insert these voices into the production of knowledge and history. This is what I want to build — an archive of possibilities.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
IF: Rather then focusing on just one, I would choose to fund various smaller projects that work closely with their communities to address their needs, such as Casa Nem, Casa Chama, and Casa 1. In different states of Brazil, they offer housing, food, and academic and professional education for LGBTQ+ people that are homeless or have been kicked out of their homes by intolerant families. The work results in the insertion of LGBTQ+ people in the academy and market. If projects like this could be heavily funded, and given visibility through intitiatives that are working to change social memory by building archives of what it means to be LGBTQ+, such as Identidades Marginais, then we could dream of a truly regenerative future for the vulnerable communities in the intolerant country we live in.
RF: What are the best and the worst things about the education system in your country?
IF: In Brazil, not only school, but also university, is supposed to be accessible and free for all, as it’s included in taxes. But this has never really been accomplished. There’s still a huge gap between the poor and the rich, especially when it comes to the Black and Indigenous communities. Almost 7% of the population is completely illiterate. And if we’re questioning this problematic structure, we should also question who dictates what knowledge is worth being transmitted and from whose perspective the educational methods and environments are being oriented. Decolonizing knowledge is far from being a practice in Brazil, as our own history is not taught and archived properly.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
IF: Please keep on the pathway you feel is the right way to live and then find the people that are feeling the same as you. Be open and willing to be affected and questioned, build bridges and trust your community.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
IF: It inspires me the various propositions against brutality, hate, and violence against the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s a very slow change. So it’s still frightening to see talented artists dead or depressed at a young age because they aren’t given a single opportunity.
RF: Regeneration is…
IF: The redistribution of power and resources.
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist Igor Furtado, click here.