Digital Brazil Project: How does your background, where you grew up and live now influence the types of images that you make?
Laíza Ferreira: I am finishing up my undergraduate degree in Visual Arts at UFRN in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. Before I got into college, I already worked with the arts and had already participated in exhibitions. I grew up in Ananindeua, Pará, [in the] North of Brazil. I bring many living references from the [Brazilian] North, as an ancestral memory. These memories connect with the experiences I had here, in the Northeast [of Brazil]. The memories of the river that unfolds into the sea, in the sounds, in the smells from here. These are the major points for the initiation of my processes.
Digital Brazil Project: Do you work with other media besides collage? How did you arrive at the medium of collage as your desired mode of expression and visualization?
Laíza Ferreira: I work with photography in many ways, but what interests me the most are experimental manual processes, such as anthotypes and phytotypes [prints made using plant matter]. In addition to these media, I experiment with drawing and painting. I have always liked experimenting with different artistic languages, especially manual ones. Producing a zine was an important base for me to compose images through analogue collages.
Digital Brazil Project: Your collages often portray images of women in relation to nature and to natural forms. What do these images intend to communicate in terms of questions about gender, sexuality, identity, and the environment?
Laíza Ferreira: I work with the memories of my Black female ancestors. My grandmother, Cassiana, descended from the Quilombo de São Manoel [Brazilian settlement founded by people of African origin], located in Jambuaçú, Pará. Recently, I have been deepening my research around memories that I did not personally live through, from my great-grandmother whom I did not meet and from a part of our history that was erased. A large part of my family from my maternal grandmother’s side died due to the malaria epidemic, so she had to come to the capital city. The images I produce are related to these issues, to the erasures, scars, and emptiness in memory caused by the colonial matrix.
Digital Brazil Project: You describe your collages as having a decolonial point of view and reflecting on ancestral memory. Can you talk more about that? How do they decolonize images of Brazilian history and culture and about which ancestral memories and histories do they reflect on?
Laíza Ferreira: The critical fabulation of historian Saidiya Hartman is part of a process of critical reading of the historical archives of the Black Atlantic. I bring this fabulatory process to my work as a strategy to rewrite in distinct temporalities. I speak of the ancestral memories of Black people. My maternal family descended from the Quilombo de São Manoel, Pará. Through the stories that my relatives have told me, [I learned that] I am a descendent of Indigenous people on the paternal side of my family, but I do not know their origins.
" The images I produce are related to these issues, to the erasures, scars, and emptiness in memory caused by the colonial matrix."
Digital Brazil Project: How do you make your collages? Where do you get the original materials?
Laíza Ferreira: The images are from books and magazines that I acquire either from donations or from used bookshops, and some pictures are from my personal archive. It is a process that requires research and intuition. I select the images and make experiments according to the ideas I have written down. In a digital collage, I search for pictures in image banks, or other Internet archives.
Digital Brazil Project: Why do you like working with collage and what does it bring to you?
Laíza Ferreira: I like working with collage because it is a language that allows me to experiment, compose, juxtapose, and create different worlds. I believe that collage is the meeting point between many different languages. Collage is an ample space in which there is an emotional and political summation.
" I like working with collage because it is a language that allows me to experiment, compose, juxtapose, and create different worlds. "
Digital Brazil Project: What histories and legacies do you try to examine or criticize with your collages?
Laíza Ferreira: Our ancestral technologies carry a complexity with which we can fabulate worlds through political rewriting and imagination. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Black and Indigenous people were recorded and documented in an extremely violent form. I intend to construct poetic narratives in which our bodies transform the memories from our ancestors.
Digital Brazil Project: What would you like the US audience to know about you and your work?
Laíza Ferreira: I am an artist who transitions between dark water and salty water. I rewrite stories, I embody memories, I transform sounds. My work is more than just collages. I cannot classify the multiplicity of the processes that surround my work. I hope you all will notice each gesture in every element of my work, that you will write and draw with the body, with the scissors, and with the voice. Know your own history and how it relates to the bigger picture.
Interview by Gillian Sneed, PhD
October 2, 2021
Artist Spotlight: Laíza Ferreira
Laíza Ferreira (Anannindeua, Brazil, 1988) is an artist who lives and works in Natal, Brazil. Working from what she terms “ancestral memory,” she constructs visual worlds through her fragmentary images that juxtapose people of different ethnicities with the landscape and astronomical scenes.