Precárias: The 2024 Edition of the Performance Festival – An Interview with Tita Maravilha, artistic director of the Precárias Festival

According to her, she is all about hybridity and the utmost professionalism. She embraced Portugal ten years ago and is still here, bridging gaps, performing in different places, giving voice to a body marginalised by the past and calling for revolution. A rallying cry that contains a whole community of voices and the belief that countries and their traditions are always on the move. Thinking and acting are responsible for reshaping history.

Taking the familiar and the (political) body as her starting point, Tita Maravilha spoke to Umbigo, extending an invitation to the second edition of Precárias, the dissident performance festival which, this year, is travelling out of Lisbon and into Portugal and beyond. The programme opens on March 15 in the capital; the place that Tita considers both a welcoming home and a rejecting place and, time and again, material that is reflected in her creation.

Actress, singer, performer, dancer, clown, DJ, creator of universes. Is there one thought connecting all these personas?

Since certain issues are not a matter of choice, the political body is what connects these universes, so as to devise new ones. This predates any positioning through art. I’m talking about issues of living, survival, structuring history and its narratives; and a political body which is already within a micro-politics (of the city, of society, of the art market…) to ultimately think about macro-politics.

This idea of a political body is intrinsic to your artistic practice. As a dissident body yourself, what is it like living in Portugal today? What are the aches and joys?

The hardest thing is to have this body and be from it, despite all the possibilities and tools for change that are out there. The belief is that trans identities are born in the wrong bodies. I disagree, because I couldn’t have any other. This is who I am, and I’m the best I can be! I think humanity has built up the concept of a perfection target to be reached, when in fact the great journey is the process. Personally, I don’t know if there is an ideal place to get to. In this sense, it is my duty to propose and redistribute a trans pedagogy, the kind that is prepared to reveal its experiences to the world and tell us: yes, we are all in transition when we are not trying to reach a very obvious place. Be prepared for change at any time, realising that, whatever the reality, each of us is this body. I can’t be you, and you can’t be me. And to realise, within the pedagogy of failure, that perhaps we will not get anywhere. This is why I joke about the Brazilian flag, saying that instead of “order and progress“, perhaps it should be “disorder and process“.

There has been plenty of pain throughout history. For instance, in Portugal, slavery and colonisation narratives have been engraved on many bodies. Nevertheless, I am talking about joys, because my positioning goes beyond this pain, transforming taboo into totem and hostility into new forms of storytelling. With my work I say: I will not accept hate speech, I will not accept violence against my body. Rather, look at my emotion and the love stories I have to share.

You, your body, your experience and your messages. Can you tell the difference between life and spectacle?

Currently more and more, and less and less. More and more for financial reasons and natural professional growth. However, as an artist of autobiographies and drawing on my experience to explain my body, realities merge, which can take me to extremes. Yet I look to art as a process of healing itself, because I understand that, while I express my subjectivity and the desire to change the world, I am my own enterprise, and I need to be alive to make it happen. I constantly restructure my thinking and performing body to ensure care and continuity.

Does this mean that art (can) save you?

Art does not save, it salivates. The reason for this is that there is so much good happening today that is metamorphosing the world. For me, art is a way of attempting to be happy. But, at the same time, I don’t put too many expectations on this relationship. I negotiate my relationship with art so that there is love, awareness and I can touch what is alive inside – that which brings emotion. For this to happen, art must be worked on, both by those who propose it and by those who watch it. There you have it, art does not save, what saves is the encounter between the parties.

How does precariousness become a source of thought for contemporary art?

The same reason I work with nudity in my shows: I realised that my body is my most valuable costume. It started with the question: if I had an Armani dress, would I still want to go in naked? And then I started talking about the political body. Precariousness naturally became a topic. The experience shaped my practice and the transformative urges within the language, to prove that the body contains everything that matters in itself.

I have devised numerous methodologies, but I have always understood what the stories are and why I want to think about them, tell them and try to amend them. Precárias takes on a programme of bodies that have been made precarious, that have been denied technique, and are now vying for knowledge and power. They are undergoing transformation. The idea is to show that, using simplicity and a low budget, by providing tools for bodies that have not yet had access to material, by giving them space and opportunity, they can go a long way. “Precárias como quem diz Chiquérrimes” is a takeover of places that have always been ours, and with a certificate of quality.

When we speak of Precárias, we are talking about affective curation. What is that?

This has to do with artists I admire, who make a difference on the Portuguese scene, and who share the same time as me. This joint curatorial approach only shows that we are a network and that we spread like a virus. A meeting that makes a difference: thinking artists of their own era, who want to renegotiate the future of dissident art thought. Precárias draws on queer, trans and non-binary thinking, racialised people, womanhood and migrant thinking, all of which are turned into power.

When working with so-called minorities, between the Brazilian and Portuguese dynamics, do you feel worried that your gesture may be merely branded as anti-colonial? Are there any barriers/dangers you recognise in this narrow sense in which society often understands history and acts on it (colonial vs. anti-colonial)?

That is a challenge, but does it worry me? No. In fact, all my thinking and the works I have presented in Portugal are carefully thought out for the place where they were made. I want to talk about it. Although not just about that. Each party has to do their own reading.

In Lisbon, as in Brazil, I experience suffering, but, as Jota Mombaça used to say, my work stands in spite of Portugal and in spite of Brazil, whilst at the same time being for them too. My recent construction Es Tr3s Irms, like Precárias, is a subtle and provocative way of looking at the past and transforming the present and future. I pose a challenge, not as a dropped bomb, but rather as an invitation to reinterpret, above all, a universe that this other person has not yet shared… As an immigrant, a trans person, and an artist attempting to break into the market, I am part of this community that has made a difference, offering new ways of seeing, based on careful and challenging thinking, which prioritises dissident and post-colonial thinking. Since countries and their traditions are always shifting, I see it as my mission to help rewrite history.

However, I’m not always keen to say that I’m a trans woman, nor is it always important for me to have an anti-colonial imprint, or to be identified with the underground. These are all textures that I walk on. What am I? A fucking hybrid artist, an excellent professional.

What can you share with us about the second edition of Precárias?

This year, one of the strongest aspects is the variety of partnerships. A redistribution proving that we can be in many places – Lisbon, Porto, Paris, Viseu and Montemor-o-Novo. Everything that happens depends on the venue, from street performances in unconventional places to auditoriums and black boxes, there are also concerts, round tables… We will be launching a magazine and, in Lisbon and Paris, I will be giving a coxinha workshop.

The festival’s objective is to develop itself further, as it has grown since the first edition, not least because we have the support of DGArtes. The metaphor is exactly there. It’s a festival with a slippery name – we have been made precarious, but in reality excellence is what is revealed and the confirmation that history is being rewritten by other eyes who, as a result of their experience, have many narratives to tell. This is the moment when we celebrate them.

The full festival programme is available at:


Master in Curatorial Studies from the University of Coimbra, and with a degree in Photography from the Portuguese Institute of Photography in Porto, and in Cultural Planning and Management, Mafalda develops her work in the areas of production, communication and activation, within the scope of Photography Festivals and Visual Arts - Encontros da Imagem, in Braga (Portugal) and Fotofestiwal, in Lodz (Poland). She also collaborated with Porto / Post / Doc: Film & Media Festival and Curtas Vila do Conde-Festival Internacional de Cinema. In 2020, and she was one of those responsible for the curatorial project of the exhibition “AEIOU: Os Espacialistas em Pro (ex)cess”, developed at Colégio das Artes, University of Coimbra. As a photographer, she was involved in laboratory projects of analogue photography and educational programs for Silverlab (Porto) and Passos Audiovisuais Associação Cultural (Braga), while dedicating herself to photography in a professional format or, spontaneously, in personal projects.

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