Moisés Patrício – speaking through hands

Around us is a whole visually recognisable world. As we grow we observe and begin to understand these places more, little by little. The landscape around my house is probably very different from what you see when you open the window in the morning. This world catalogs us, analyses us and includes us. Everything around me has been— and still is—known and acted upon. Moisés Patrício; 34 years old, born in São Paulo and Candomblecista* since always. Son of Exu; his orixá. As the artist himself says, ”inside me, there are many Moisés”. By virtue of his sensibilities, Moisés has always been stimulated to express himself in a creative way. Whether preparing an offering, understanding the logic of composition, alchemy, clothing, colours and sacred objects. “Being Exu’s son is very important information. All my being—my being here [and] seeing is connected to this cosmo-vision; to this culture [and] to this lifestyle that I have inherited from the Yoruba”. One of his best known works is the series Aceita?“. During the course of five years, he enacts a photo-performance that is continuously updated on his Instagram account. The artist has participated in several exhibitions including the group show titled Histórias Afro-Atlânticas and exhibitions at MASP and the Tomie Ohtake Institute in São Paulo. In addition to his participation in the Dakar Biennial at the Museum of African Arts in Senegal, Patrício was nominated for the Pipa Prize in 2016. To accept is a verb and in its essence, it implies an act of receiving. In his series Moisés offers a series of objects; found and collected—and his capturing of the objects, there are several instances where the artist’s hand is placed and inserted into the compositional context. And through this he adds another layer to his work; the Black hand and its relationship with Brazil.

The relationship with the black hand in Brazil is problematic. The black hand is everywhere. The hand says a lot about the limit people have to understand all [the] black presence in the country. Automatically, the hand is the best known [entity] because it was and has been the most exploited. The one that was serving, however, not just serving [but also] producing all kinds of things—not just material but intellectual [production] as well. [This relationship has been] embedded in many layers of [meaning making] and to this day this intellectual contribution of ours is implied. The series “Aceita?” is a bit of an attempt to continue this dialogue with an awareness of what I am living now at this moment in time, along with the old questions. Old questions from the ancestors which have not yet been answered. And from a gesture, however, not only from a gesture but also from a thought. Not only from thought but from black thought. And so, the coolest thing about art is that we can seduce people—art is nothing more than aesthetics with this function of bringing people together. For me, this informs my relationship with aesthetics; as a means to talk about issues that are imbricated such as the religious question—religious racism is linked to structural racism. It’s all very connected.

Exu is the orixá of communication. He is the bridge between deities and human beings. From that communication, Moisés wants to create a collective body—transiting into universes. That’s where my questioning of spaces comes in. How do you see the Brazilian urban space, the space of São Paulo, which often denies Brazil itself?

We live in apartheid—in a different way than we did in South Africa—but it’s apartheid. It’s wide open and very subtle. Today, with technology we can see what has always been happening. With “Aceita?”, it served as my exercise to break down certain  social boundaries. To challenge this apartheid  especially because I’ve always been very respected in my Terreiro. My parents are from Candomblé, my father, my grandfather, everybody. From experience, there was a lot I didn’t understand so they always tried to protect me a lot. They would say “you can’t leave”, “you can’t be alone”, “you are a target, this is not a joke”. When I was gaining this maturity—automatically, because I was also this orixá on the way (Exu) who opens these channels of communication; walking here and there, taking and bringing things…Everything that has movement has Exu. I started to experiment, first I went to the corner of my house. Then with the coming of Bauzin, I started to access the museums through his tutelage because he was a white man. It was always a bizarre feeling because you get to these places that are symbolically not for you and you see the looks—the worries of people. A display of everything we know about racism.

I became an adult and I became detached, I wanted to do things by myself without having the guardianship of a white person. This is my exercise in life, to this day I have been experiencing these places that were built throughout the history of Brazil and witnessed them being consolidated and expanded. The challenge is to enter these places and understand my body. The series for me is a bit of this exercise. It arose from this need to understand why this place is restricted, why they have a difficulty [comprehending] me. Before I did not have the answer…I just had the question. It’s this exercise, how to enter these places—these “apart” spaces; this other house and understand how it reacts. And then compare the discourse of what they have been doing and what they have been practicing; in the newspaper and on TV. There is a [homogenous] voice that legitimises these neocolonial facts and institutions saying, “Brazil is a peaceful country, people are very friendly”. Yet, every day there are a trucks of dead young people from the periphery. It’s a political project. I’m interested in understanding it, seeing what they’re talking about. In  the micro and macro

The series takes place on Instagram, within the space of social media, with more than a thousand images and it can be seen in its entirety. Without any barrier, impediment or social distance. It feels like a a way and strategy of creating more independent bonds and networks of thought.

I elected the social network as my platform. The series happens on Instagram. I made this photo, this performance photo, this record of my traffic, my thoughts and my body. They are inserted directly into the network. There’s no filter of a gallery or museum—I am the filter. I’m talking about it and I want your opinion. “Aceita?” is an exercise too, in undermining this monopoly of narrative.

So I asked Moisés why does he offer, is it in effort to reach out and give as a gift—why make put himself in the position of potentially disposability if his offering is not accepted on the other end?

The outstretched hand is a bet I have. I don’t believe in the same operative ways of white—and when I say white—I mean this European, Portuguese that we inherited and froze, because even the Portuguese himself advanced. We stayed here in time/space with the values and historical mistakes that we were fed and perpetuate. I try not to reproduce the same violent and oppressive ways of dialogue. So, I offer an outstretched hand in search of this conversation because I believe, as Exu’s son, that communication heals too. We need to talk because the illness that we suffer—historically speaking—is also [intrinsically] linked to not talking about it, to avoiding it. I believe that dialogue is a political gesture and a healing gesture. I hold out my hand seeking this dialogue, but it is a dialogue that has to be reciprocal. The reciprocity happens naturally and I leave the person with the issue. If they want to develop this issue, to receive this healing, we develop it. I talk, I go, I speak, I position myself, I expose myself… Because this is a [also tied to the] question of patriarchal monopoly, I looked and entered (in the eye). I don’t stand on the retina. You internalise and it will have to develop at some point.

*Candomblecista is a reference to people who believe in Candomblé and follow it as religion and culture. It is an Afro-Brazilian religion derived from traditional African spiritual practices an

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