Rachel Gontijo Araujo, A Bolha Editora (Rio de Janeiro):
Fortunately Language, Like Fucking, is Not Pure
On Saturday, October 5 at 2pm, as part of the 2014 Vancouver Art/Book Fair, Rachel Gontijo Araujo speaks about working in collaboration with artists and makers from Brazil and around the world in an effort to break open dialogues of what we read, how we read and how books reach us in places where distribution has been historically limited.
by Chelsea Rooney
Think of a bubble. Blown long and large from an oversized wand. Expansion and float. Soap sheen, iridescence. Bob, bob, bob. Pop. Silent to our ears. But it must make some sound. How does the image make you feel? Is there innocence? Elation? Nostalgia? Or something more sinister. For charm of a powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
For Brazilian writer and artist Rachel Gontijo Araujo, and American writer and artist Stephanie Sauer, cofounders of A Bolha Editora, the bubbles they blew from their wands—a bit of fun Americana whilst completing their MFAs at the Art Institute of Chicago—represent that special indifference to expectation one must possess in order to make art. A Bolha Editora translates into Just a Bubble Press, and Gontijo Araujo envisioned her publishing as “playful and agile, not interested in maintaining the commodity-driven nature of commercial publishing… Bubbles may be small and unassuming, but they have the capacity to create much unease and excitement, as well as cause movement.”
Gontijo Araujo wants her bubble to move against Brazil’s legacy of censorship. “I am referring to what has become a type of self-censorship by Brazilian readers and is reflected in market-driven demands for publishing. When I write about legacies of colonialism and censorship, I mean just that – legacies. Of course we are no longer a colony and the censoring practices of the dictatorship ended in the 1980s when the dictatorship itself ceased, but there were lasting consequences of these historical moments that show up in contemporary publishing. For example, the structures of distribution, of access, that are set in place by the traditional publishing market seem to be there to insure the failure of initiatives that reject status quo thinking in publishing.”
Bubbles, while not organic, are not inanimate either. They are borne of the mouth; they form bodies and they live. Each bubble is different and, if you look at one with an engaged eye, you can see a personality there. Then, encountering perhaps a finger, a desk corner, or a speck of dust, they die. Anything with a body is not long for this world. At A Bolha Editora, and in Gontijo Araujo’s own work specifically, she leans toward and creates work whose turf is the body: “We only publish works that we like. And we like we like artists that are not afraid of their own flesh. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.”
Gontijo Araujo’s own writing “investigates body not as a space of origin but as a territory that disorients and attempts to show that, fortunately, language, like fucking, is not pure.” Her forthcoming book, Primary Anatomy, traces “the movements of a body—gender not specific—who wakes up one day to realize that the part of the brain usually associated with logic has physically repositioned itself to the genitals. The question becomes: how can one fuck with reason?”
Another incarnation of the bubble: it can insulate. At best, it protects from damage. At worst, it obscures reality to devastating effects. We talk of floating through life in an academic bubble, wherein our talk of ideas results in no tangible thing. We observe a celebrity make a perfunctory attempt to transcend their bubble by volunteering in Africa or narrating a documentary on climate change. And then there are those reality-obscuring bubbles built and upheld under our very noses. Gontijo Araujo laments the slick and shiny bubble that is the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“(I)t was not difficult to have the Brazilian soccer team lose to Germany, but it has been very difficult to understand how a country neglects to hear its own people’s demands and allows an institution such as FIFA to enter its territory the way it did, concedes to the building of billion dollar stadiums, forcibly removes people from their houses, in a time when thousands, millions, of Brazilians have been on the streets demanding for change in structures of power and governance, for more investments in education, better public health, better public transportation, political transparency and integrity and are met with unjustified institutionalized violence.
“Unfortunately, until our country is able to rethink its priorities, we shouldn’t expect to be the champions of anything.”
Except for, perhaps, champions of artist publishing. Giving voice and image to the underrepresented in Brazil, North America and beyond.
Image: Photo by Bruno Dorigatti