I like collaborative projects because they always take me to different places from where I envisioned in the beginning. It is never a linear journey, but a stellar one—in format and space. The directions to be taken within the geography of collectivity are neither clearly delineated nor individual paths, but rather an imbroglio of ways of thinking and the crossing of several experiences. This is the configuration of the map we have started to trace and explore with Luv ‘til It Hurts.
At the end of 2018, we had a talk with Todd Lanier Lester, who had launched LTIH a few months earlier and was organising the exhibition Textão in São Paulo/Brazil. Todd is one of the artists with more experience with collaborative works that I know. So, when he sent me Textão’s release, I immediately related it to our first proposition Power-full Language. The word textão means ‘long text’ in English, and it is an expression commonly used by the black, feminist and LGBTQIA+ communities in Brazil. Its content carries a reaction to certain social factors that violate the rights of people from these communities. It is usually addressed to remind cisgender people, especially white heterosexual men, of their privileges and their central position within the oppressive colonial system—based on race, gender, sexuality and class markings. Textão was an exhibition that embodied much of the discussion we had initiated on the role of language in building contemporary social structures. Thus, this first conversation with Todd led us to establish a ‘coalition’ with LTIH, whose starting point was an introductory interview with Todd.
LTIH is a project about HIV and stigma, which brought about many questions on how we could integrate these topics into our research program. Many of us had already connected our personal researches with some language aspect and drafted a series of provocations for developing throughout the year. Therefore, the encounter between TT and LTIH could not be moulded into the same structure we have planned and constructed during our meetings. We were not dealing with questions originated from TT anymore, but with issues we don’t live with, we don’t study, even though they have to do with our investigation as much as any other proposition we have elaborated. Perhaps because of this unfamiliarity with the subject, we had to approach HIV and stigma with a series of actions, which included the translations of the instructions for Luv’s game into several languages, the spreading of posters for the Love Positive Women campaign at Leiden University and the closing article Certain things between stigma and love with my personal reflection revolving around the process of working together with LTIH.
Think Twice and Luv ‘til It Hurts did get to know each other. The final act has just started and there is more coming.