In 2020, members of Lastro, a platform based on collaboration, autonomy, and critical thinking in art, were searching to deepen their artistic research around racialised and dissident desire while reflecting on themes that emerged at the time: the transit between subjectivities in Brazil and Switzerland (where some of the members are based); the pandemic context, where fear and the imminence of death loomed; and the unspoken language as a challenge to the technology of encounter.
These discussions led to «Spelling Desire», a project between Brazil and Switzerland, curated and organised by Beatriz Lemos [BR] and Jonas Van [BR/CH]. During the programme, a group of artists and curators reflected on language transmutations and vocabulary creation as radical exercises of desire. They were searching to address questions such as: What would happen if desire operated only on the unpredictable? Or if we understood the inherent mutability of nature as its non-negotiable limit? Or if we were imbued to believe in spell casting as a practice of retaking and restitution?
“From this experience it was possible to glimpse creation processes at a distance and deep exchanges about the dimension of life present in the verb DESIRE,” Beatriz explains.
The first activation occurred through an online programme, in 2021, with residencies, talks and a website that gathered a few works developed in this period. Later, it unfolded into an in-person format, including a research trip by Beatriz, in May 2023, to visit Swiss and Swiss-based artists’ ateliers for an upcoming exhibition that should take place both in Brazil and Switzerland.
“If our beginning was based on the understanding that desire will never be neutral and that every gesture carries a spell, a continuity of the project with a moment of research and exhibition seems more than necessary to deepen these ideas. Now with the power of the body in transit, the body in displacement of contexts, climates, and landscapes,” says Beatriz.
“The experience of these three weeks in Switzerland was intense, with a lot of work and reflections on the conceptual arguments that will guide the exhibition. From the network of contacts and indications that I was able to elaborate, I got to know the panorama of dissident immigrant, racialised and sex-gender artists in residency in Switzerland, which was fundamental for the choices of participations for the future stage of the project.”
Beatriz Lemos [BR] works with curatorship and research and is responsible for the conception and direction of Lastro – Free Exchanges in Art platform. From counter-hegemonic perspectives, she works in the conduction and articulation of networked and transdisciplinary processes of creation and learning. Between 2015 and 2016, she was Visiting Curator at Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage (RJ), developing the current bases of the Library|Documentation and Research Center of EAV. In 2015, she held the residency Lastro Centroamérica, with Brazilian artists and curators, between Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico, resulting in the exhibition «Lastro em campo: percursos ancestrais e cotidianos», at Sesc Consolação (SP) in 2016. She was part of the curatorial commission of the 20th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil (2017) and the Pampulha Grant (2018/2019), and coordinated the artist residency Travessias Ocultas – Lastro Bolívia, which unfolded into an exhibition at Sesc Bom Retiro (SP, 2016/2017). From 2019 to 2021, she was part of the curatorial team of the 3rd Triennial of Arts – Frestas (Sorocaba, SP). She is currently an Adjunct Curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro (MAM).