Portrait: Lúcio Souza
First impression. When I saw Lúcio the first time at the bboy contest Floor Wars 2016, I admit that I probably did exactly what the majority of people do. From his appearance I subconsciously created this idea in my head of him being a certain type of person. I knew he was from Brazil as he was hanging out with the Brazilian crew Funk Fockers and with experience you recognize Brazilians from miles away.
The art of speech. I was greeted by familiar kisses on the cheeks, a friendly accent from São Paulo area, and then surprised by some very complex phrases and a formel level of Portuguese. I was expecting slangs and street language, and just like that my preconceptions were put to shame. For those who do not know; Portuguese is recognized as a pretty complex language that even native speakers have troubles with speaking correctly. In fact you rarely meet people that are well articulated or people that doesn't use self-made words. And honestly I didn't expect Lúcio to be any different.
My curiousity instantly wanted to dig deep into Lucio's stories and know more about this guy with tattoos all over his face. Lucky enough he was up for a talk, so we walked through Vesterbro, Nørrebro and inner CPH and talked for 4 hours straight. Just to clear it out; Lúcio is 23, he doesn't drink or smoke, and has been a vegetarian for the past 7 years. He has some very interesting point of views on life, prejudices, Brazilian and European culture. I simply couldn't pass the chance of sharing some of these along with the pics. So here's a long and pretty unedited and raw insight.
A: What's your background?
L: I'm the fourth child. My bros and I were all raised without a father figure. My mother was abandoned by her husband when she was pregnant with her third child. The fact that she didn't have any professional education made it close to impossible of having a good job, so even though my brothers were young we all had to be providers of the family. Only by standing together [despite the relation as mom and children] we could cope with the many adversities of life as poor Brazilians, such as financial problems, alimentation, growing up in the middle of violence and the lack of public education. Not really like Denmark yeah.
A: How do your brothers serve as an inspiration, despite where they are in life atm?
L: They always protected me and sacrificed for the sake of me and my mother. My oldest brother had his first contact with drugs at the age of 11 in the outskirts where we lived. I remember my mom working hard to support us alone. But even tho my brother grew up with a stigma of abandonment, while fighting against plain hunger just like many other kids in the same social class, and then he also survived the attempt of a murder.. Despite all this he has always been serene and taught me about forgiveness. He was a tattooist and always encouraged me to develop a critical but objective approach to the world and my artistic expression. Sadly a former girlfriend of him committed suicide due to drug abuse and family problems (same old song), and he had post traumatic disorder, sank into drugs and eventually ended up in prison. Where he still is..
L: May I add? In my opinion Brazilian prisons are per definition inhuman. The living conditions are horrible in every way. But the biggest and obvious problem is that there are no intention of a re-socialization of the individual. The only reason for that must be that the rulers profit much of the incarceration of the poor. A lot of money is diverted by each prisoner, and when you retain the poor in this situation its just like a human money factory. So yeah. Life was very hard on my brother. Very few supported anything that he went through and the system did the least.
my oldest brother had his first contact with drugs at the age of 11.
You can break this norm and system, with unification and respect for the world and other people.
Making a difference. One of the things that got my attention from our short talk at Floor Wars, was the fact that Lúcio works regularly with young criminals by simply spending time with them, but also guiding and lecturing, as well as reading books out loud for them in the prisons. I had to ask why he cared to do so.
A: What do you wish to pass along to the young people in prison? And why do you do it?
L: I wish to provide optical mentoring parallel to the one we teach in conventional life, new values for the kids and also show how for instance working with tattoos can provide an alternative to committing crimes. The tattoo culture is very strong in Brazilian society, especially among young people. I want to pass a positive attitude in contrary to the norm that society condemns. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the social norm is that if you are born poor in Brazil, it is as if you were placed in a cursed caste where you are forced to spent the rest of your life suffering. I try to convey that you can break this norm and system, with unification and respect for the world and other people. When you are born with nothing, freedom and love is everything. I find that what is important is to give these young kids is self-esteem and also to challenge their values, and thereby force them to take a stance, but all with support. Most of them has a lot of will, but they don't have the vision to direct the revolt and maybe no one to listen to their internal conflicts.
The reason why I do it.. I have friends who ended up in prison or died in the streets. I do it for them, for me and for you. I believe in a new world that is carried out trough a fight fought by you and me, the ordinary people. A world which is under our demand and not the ones on top that lost the feeling of how the solid ground feels between our toes.
Brazilian Society from a civil perspective.
Brazil march 2016. Brazil is currently experiencing the deepest recession in 25 years. According to the Economist, the public debt, is nearly twice that of Greece (to make it more relatable for the Europeans). With a total dysfunctional government it is not clear what will take Brazil out of this. The past 7 days has been shaking the country to its core - about a week ago the country had it's largest anti-government protest ever seen. As it is right now I personally have no idea of what is going to happen in the nearest future. The situation is extremely complex and I'm worried for the upcoming Olympics and for the Brazilian population. In line with the massive social problems that Brazil is facing, Lúcio and I talked about similar topics from a more civil perspective.. How are he and fellow Brazilians experiencing their country's current situation, and what is his personal experience with official institutions.
A: What is happening in Brazil atm from your perspective. It's hard for us foreigners to fully understand.
L: Okay, so a brush up from my point of view: Our government closes the public schools to open prisons instead. Our government steals money from the alimentation in the schools, doesn't pay the professors for teaching so they don't show up, leaves us without water and electricity AND uses the TV to deceive the population with no education that believes any lie told in the media. The Brazilian police force is the one that kills the most in the world, and the police are being sued to shut our mouths. They kill people who try to inform or transform the country, and also kill people from social movements who attempt to provide services that should be guaranteed by the state. Land speculation creates new slums and the same persons doing that is the ones that also pay the police to set fire to the shacks to clean up the areas to increase the value of other properties for sale around the area. Every day we are trying to resist this scenario in our trenches. It is at a stage where we live in an undeclared civil war, and a dictatorship of economic power. As many probably have heard up until and during the World Cup residents where expelled and homes where destroyed to make the most attractive scenario for visitors. Very little was done to help the population. Not to forget the killing of the Indians to expand lands of farmers and politicians, the poor peasants seeking land to plant and produce are also killed and persecuted, while the landowners are forgiven their debts and keeping thousands of hectares unproductive, which leads to starvation and locking the country's economy. I could easily continue...
A: Have you ever had to use your ability to talk to make up for peoples preconceptions of you?
L: When you grow up in risky areas in Brazil, you just have to develop some kind of survival skills. I try to use the language as the first option, especially in relation to the Brazilian military police. Many foreigners probably don't know about this kind of force, but simply put, it's a very violent official institution with one purpose: to kill. One time at a protest for some political cause, they tried to arrest me for disrespecting them. I'm sure that the reason for that was the fact that I look like the stereotype of a criminal and also that I was protesting. Nothing but that. And this is just an example of how an official institution is corrupted and you can hardly trust anyone nowadays in Brazil. I had to unfold myself verbally by dropping all these ethical and solid arguments related to official laws, just to make them understand that I'm capable of legitimizing my actions and it would cause them a headache to arrest me. Because they simply had no reason or arguments of doing so. It's sad it has to be this way. This is just one out of many times where I had to give a speech like a politician not to be abused because of prejudice. It can be seen like a war, where the discourse and the ideas are your the weapons. If you don't master your vocabulary they will constantly humiliate or abuse you. People often look at me with fear or with a certain stigma because of the tattoos, but I'm a calm person most of the time. I usually act as the mediator in conflicts in my social circle.
if you don't master your vocabulary they
will constantly humiliate or abuse you
Denmark & Brazil
A: What do you think Brazil could learn from danish culture?
L: From the little time I spent here [3 days] it seems like women are more free. I noticed that the society and the people have more faith in the police and the official institutions, and from the way the nordic society is build, it seems like it provides some great possibilities for its citizens. I saw beautiful and smiling women, Christiania must also be mentioned as an inspiring example of social self-management (and I don't even smoke). In terms of security Denmark feels very calm and safe - but in this regard it's not a matter of choice for Brazilians. We live in this scenario by imposition, I don't believe we are violent by choice. No human is born violent, we are violent because of the condition that we are exposed to and we reproduce the behavior without thinking..
No human is born violent..
A: What could Denmark learn from brazilian culture?
L: I think Europeans could learn a little about affection and receptivity. I feel that some developed societies are becoming increasingly distant of our collective nature. In Brazil it's very common to share, support and include each other. We are very receptive. And sexually I think we are ahead of the Europeans. Seriously. In Brazil we put our wants and needs out there, here it seems like some are quite reluctant of their respective desires, probably because of some social taboos. Restrained by thoughts like "what will he/she be thinking if this or that" - but in the end of the day everyone is interested in the pleasure of having sex. Maybe a European problem is lack of sexual contact, haha. You know, when you meet a dissatisfied or angry person there is a common saying "that person haven't got anything for too long", in this regard maybe things would have more color with a bit more sexual emancipation. It feels like there is a very strong instinct or thinking of "how to win in life", which can be very good. But meanwhile the days passes and people dies a little bit inside with every second of not sharing affection, smiles etc. It feels like the majority of the people are over the top A-to-B methodological, and I think it would be evolving for many people to relax more, maybe even take a few days in Latin America..
Maybe things would have more color with a bit more sexual emancipation
A: Speaking of the sexes; any advises for the ladies and the men?
L: Girls, "o que não derem em vida a terra come" - (this would be something like: what you don't give while being alive, the earth will eat).
Boys, if a girl send you a picture it's just for you. Not for all of your 100 friends in your what's app/FB group chat. And do not treat your partner as a lump of flesh. Knowing how to touch a women both physically and mentally is the most important step to happiness.
Love is a revolutionary act.
A: If you should say one wish out loud, what would it be?
L: Maybe it would that people would talk and look more into the eyes of each other. We never really know when it will be the last chance of doing so, and I especially wish for the western people that they can express themselves without fear. Up here people often prolong something that should be said the first time. I think that's it.
LOVE IS A REVOLUTIONARY ACT
Lúcio is back in Brazil now, but soon returning to Europe for work purpose. Check out his art Perux Tattooeria here
Thank you for reading this story!
Personal note. Lúcio, thank you for sharing and trusting me your words and opinions and also for letting me picture you. You took me by surprise with all of your visions and ideas. Keep pursuing the good // Valeu por compartilhar e confiar-me suas palavras e opiniões, e por deixar-me tirar tantos fotos do seu rosto. Você me pegou de surpresa com todas as suas visões, ideas e seu carinho. Mantenha-se perseguir o bem. So paz e amor.