AESTHETIC AS ACTIVISM: Thaís Muniz
Nia Hampton | Monday June 19th 2017
This month’s feature is Thaís Muniz , founder of Turbante.se. Designer, creative director, historian are only but a few the job titles the Afro Brazilian artist holds as she shares Black Brazilian culture with the world through the use of head wraps. Read more to see how Thaís uses her aesthetic as activism.
In the late 60’s, a widely used slogan in the feminist movement was, “the personal is political.” And this past year, we’ve seen an overall increase in political awareness around the world. Everyday our favorite brands are vocalizing their support for a certain cause. Our favorite fashion institutions are taking a stand against injustice. We here at All the Pretty Birds are getting in on what we hope is more than just a trend. For a long time, Aesthetic was seen as something frivolous or only necessary in the world of art. But as the study of identity politics gains more traction, we’re realizing, you actually ARE what you wear. I’ve decided to talk to some very powerful people in their own right. Activists who use their mediums of art to fight for their personal cause, and find out not only what’s in their closet, but why?
What does aesthetic mean to you?
It’s a direct visual message that you receive or send, based on life experiences, tastes, or necessities. Everything has a natural aesthetic that normally changes based on circumstances. If we think about a beautiful and natural landscape, and someone decides to build on that landscape, it will have been designed by that person based on their own tastes, standards and circumstances. For example, the way I dress is based on my life experiences, and I can also express things that I believe in. There are symbols of nonverbal communication. The turbans and headwraps for example, loads of people wear them based on their beliefs, and this says a lot about them. The way they look can define their religion, social position, political position or aesthetical taste. So for me, aesthetic is the magic about saying things with no words. It sends a visual message based on what you want to express, reveal or propose based on your understanding and interpretation.
What looks are you going for right now?
Loving the high waist pantacourt with wide legs. The culottes! They are really comfy. I like wearing them with almost everything, specially with shirts.
What does activism mean to you?
It means being active towards a cause or subject I believe that matters. It´s that effort to make things happen or to stop them, thinking collectively. It´s promoting a way of thinking towards change, to share an idea you support and to engage people on that idea. In my work it means using my body and mind to talk about my own history, about beauty, about struggle, about racism and the gaps that we need to fill.
What are some internal/external changes you’d like to see in life this year? What changes are you making personally and what changes would you like to see in the world?
I would love to see people´s consciousness change towards racism, prejudices, and gender topics – from a perspective that everybody would stop saying “I’m not racist”, “I’m not sexist”, or “I’m not homophobic”, and analyse which kind of prejudices they still have instead. For this year I really want to see the president of Brazil impeached, the people being able to choose our new president. #FORATEMER. I also really want to see Donald Trump drown in his own poison.
About my personal changes, I feel I´m writing part of my history that hasn’t been written yet, researching and documenting about turbans and headwraps on the afro-brazilian and diasporic culture. I share this knowledge through my workshops, talks, and posts on social media. I´m doing this because I understand how important the moment is that we are living in, and I understand that we are making history happen. When I think about each part of my work I want to create a positive impact on people, and keep the dialogue going.
What’s your makeup/haircare/skincare/self care ritual looking like?
Not much to be honest. My main make up thing is this amazing eyebrow marker from Kiko Milano, that I’ve been using in the last 3 years, eye pencil and mascara. My eyes are big and I like to point it out. For going out sometimes I use eye liners, and I’ve been using compact powder as well. A Maybelline one at the moment. For skin care, I use soaps and lotions. In the Morning I use Aroeira (a powerful curative plant) soap, sometimes exfoliating with a Eucerin soap. I´m also using the Effaclar Duo cream from La Roche-Posay because it´s good for unclogging my pores and corrects the appearance of blemishes. For my hair I´ve been using products I got in a shop in Brazil specialized in curly hair (Casa de Marah), and is a leave-in, low foam shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizer from this brand called Lennox. They all have no paraben, no salt, and many of the substances that damage my beautiful hair.
What are your Muses/Inspiration at the moment?
I really like Grada Kilomba´s work. She is so simple and so powerful. Her way of creating new narratives in talks, performances, video, mixing politics and art towards the decolonization mindset is very inspiring to me. Also, James Baldwin is a legend that has a way of think about racism that I really like. When I think about music I love the work of Luedji Luna, from Brazil, Loah from Dublin, Rincon Sapiencia, Carol Conka, Liniker, also from Brazil. In fashion I would highlight the work of Isaac Silva, a brazilian fashion designer and the amazing and stylish twin sisters Tracie and Tasha Okereke. Brazil is in a very strong and effervescent moment for black culture, art and aesthetics in general. It´s been amazing to see what all these people have been producing.
What creative projects are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a documentary about the history of the turbans and headwraps from the Afro-Brazilian perspective to the origins, building the Turbante-se platform and online shop, organising the next contact performances, workshops and talks for the Turbante-se Europe Tour 2017. I will be going abroad to a few cities in Europe such as Berlin (from 16th – 27th of June, on July I´ll be in France and Italy, August Belgium and UK)
Graphic By Sophia-Gach Rasool