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A Conversation with Lyz Parayzo

Lyz Parayzo, a brazilian born artist currently studying in the Beaux-Arts de Paris talks about her art, inspired by her personal experiences, and which focuses on the body, gender identity and fluidity.

season 3 episode 15
Dec 27 2021

LyzSpeakers: Mauren Brodbeck and Lyz Parayzo

Mauren  02:03

Hi Liz, welcome to the show.

Lyz  02:05

Hi, thank you so much for inviting me to your podcast.

Mauren  02:11

You're so welcome. We are recording this episode at the gallery Espace L in Geneva where you have a solo show called “PornoChic”. So Lyz, you were born in Rio de Janeiro and you now live between Paris and São Paulo. How do you describe yourself and your art?

Lyz  02:27

Well, I started my artwork in the place of activism. Yeah […] I never thought before that I would make my art to survive. I'm from a poor family in the 'banlieue' (suburb) of Rio de Janeiro and started to study art in the art school, in an elitist place. I felt the necessity to express myself in this space, my school, but I wanted to make things which talk about my identity, my performativity. For my school, it was too much and I started to make interventions. But I need to go back to your question. I am in Paris now studying for a Master in the École de Beaux-Arts de Paris. My work here is about me. It is like my book, where I can start a public debate for people and this is what I think about.

Mauren  03:31

Yeah. Excellent. You started with “Guerilla Plans” where you invaded - you did guerrilla performances -  and invaded existing exhibition spaces. Tell me about this. Why [did you do these performances]?

Lyz  03:45

Like suffragists too and make the interventions, the exhibitions. Well, normally, before you're born the doctor says: “[it] will be a man because see this ecography and they see the sex. […] I started experimentation with performing being feminine in the public space. My life changed and I wanted to talk about this. But sometimes the art space is a little conservative because they don't want to talk about these things. And because of that, I made my actions non-officials. Because I’ve tried the conventional forms but then it was too much. Imagine in my first work [photograph], there is my ass open with my painted nails, and my art was censored because I put it in the bathroom of my first school. I placed the image as signage. So people went to the toilet and they didn’t know if it [the sign] was official or not official. It was a very strong work. Everybody was talking about this and didn’t know if this was official or not official. [After this first intervention] I made a Guerrilla plan to continue my work. So in the first exhibition I put my ass in the bathroom. In the second, I made a fanzine talking about censorship, as many artists that talk about censorship in Brazilian art like Hudinilson Junior, who used a Xerox copy machine as a support with images of his body, his ass and dick… I can talk about all these things through my art, like many artworks that talks about censorship, and I gave it to the people  [students] of the school... I had a big problem because the school’s administration didn't like that so much. The first time I had another exhibition, I went to a gallery just wearing red underwear and I made a big dress out of paper. I started my little young career this way. It's very important for me because I learned to make art with interventions like these. Not sitting in the chair and listening to the teachers but by putting my artwork in the world and seeing what will happen.

Mauren  06:15

Yeah, so it's really about experiencing what you do. Why do you think this censorship happened? Is it because of the subject? Is it because of the reflection it can steer? Is it because it's disturbing?

Lyz  06:31

Because I think it's disturbing, yeah. Because the art school rent the restaurant for the one people imagine it:  is the same time art school and they have the private restaurant and the people need to go to toilet, and they have the problem because imagine if you rent one space for people of the restaurant and the same time have the school and there's the ass in the bathroom. Yes, too much for the institution. But I think it's very crazy because all the time in that school you listen, and they say you are free to make all these things. Yeah, but in real life, like system art, you have the big catalogs, yeah, books, talk about the art activism. But when you make these, you have problems because the people don't want to be feeling these sensations. Yeah. And everybody has an ass, yeah. I don't understand the problem. Yeah, but well, the ass is the place trans women or gays have sex and they have many other things on control in the different parts of their body. Yes. And yeah, I don't know...  [laughter]

Mauren  07:43

Yeah, I agree with this. Oh, you know, every body parts that's related to sex. Even if it's not only sex, it's a problem for people. Yeah, yeah. I'm trying to understand you know, in the history when did that start? And because it was not always like that. I mean, it shows that we’re still pretty close to discussing certain things as a society. Yeah. This is interesting. So your work is really striking. It's sharply cut, I have to say beautiful, gentle and at the same time really powerful and somehow violent. You use the image of razor blades and it brings dualities in a unique way. The title of your exhibition is “Porno Chic”, and it was inspired by one of the tale of the book of the “Erotic Tales” by the Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst

Lyz  08:40

Hilda Hilst

Mauren  08:43

And this one is called “O Caderno Rosa de Lori Lamby”, which could translate to the “Rose book of Lory Lamby”. Can you tell us what inspired you in this poem?

Lyz  08:54

Yeah, I'm starting my artwork from a place of activism but after I think: I can’t make attacks all the time if I want the galleries, the art schools and the museums. Yeah, because I have other stories. I made flyers of me as a prostitute, with my age,  phone number and address of the art space, like if the art space couldn’t afford to pay me. Yeah. And I made many “actions” before I started making these sculptures. And I see the sculptures, like a “Cheval de Troy” (Troyan Horse)

Mauren  09:26

How do you call it? “Le Cheval de Troy” (Troyan Horse)

Lyz  09:28

Yeah, voila. Because if I talk about my body directly, yes, my performances, the violence, the desire, people, my body. Sometimes people have problems with this because, well... for this I used a concrete statement to talk about desire and violence in this way. I use the “coude plié” (metal bent elbow).  Yeah, and I stepped out to make my sculptures and at the same time I wanted to talk about my body, yeah, because my work is about the body and I started the conversation with Lygia Clark who is a big brazilian artist who teached in La Sorbonne. And I'm writing now about her work in my memoir. And I started to use aluminium because Lygia worked aluminium yeah. I have this story; my grandfather made the bijoux, jewelleries in silver and gold and when I started to make my sculptures, I started to make these sculptures as jewelleries for self defense. Yeah, because I think: when I can continue my discourse as an artist, I will make these objects. Because it's difficult.  Imagine I use my body in the public space and make performances or installations, as a place of activism. And when you start to work in the galleries and museums, you have just one object  and sometimes the objects are not my body, yeah. It's a different signal. For this, I started to make the sculptures to have the same intentions [as my performances and interventions] Yeah, I started to make the series, the name is “Bellic Prosthesis”. Yeah, like bracelets, rings for fighting, or for protection. But for me it's impossible to make big sculptures in silver or gold because it's very expensive. And at this time, I've started to research the work of Lygia Clark and see, well, I want to use aluminum, yeah. Because it is the same material Lygia used to make her sculptures and in Brazil it's not so expensive, because Brazil has many different metals. I went to an art residence in San Paolo. And there I've learned how to manipulate aluminium and create these things [sculptures] bigger and for the body and started the jewelry and after I made the shields. Yeah. And after the shields, the mobiles.

Mauren  12:08

Yeah I find it really interesting because the jewelry that you create for self-defense. It brings together this duality between shielding yourself, protecting yourself and desire because jewelry has to do with desire. So you would say the same thing for the big mobiles you do.

Lyz 12:27

I want to start talking about my body in the public space because when I walk on the street or I'm living my life or in the subjective,  I feel or I'm in a place of desire and violence at the same time. Imagine if you go out of this gallery, and you walk in the street, if my shield it’s another experience, because the feminine performance [to perform the feminine/as a woman] catalyzes many energies, many sights, yeah all the time. And for this I make shields to raise the questions: How does one make shields in their life? Yeah, and why? I wanna create this debate in the gallery here, to talk about my body because I can’t use this in the streets, image! [laughter]

Mauren  13:16

This is super interesting this idea of the shield and we all have or create these shields for us.

Lyz  13:28

They can’t attack you with the shields because of the “scie”, the blade, yeah, it has two sides: you can use it for protection and at the same time to attack. But I forgot to talk about Lori Lamby. The interesting story, because well I'm leaving Paris, and the other day I went to “The Cruise”, the restaurant of the University  des Beaux-Arts de Paris. And I saw one exhibition, very strong, in Paris and the artist Kubra Khademi who made one performance in Afghanistan and used an armor on her body and the people wanted to kill her, because a woman artist is making a performance with an armor in a public space. And for this she came to Paris and started painting naked women making sex with animals and different other things. And when I saw this,  I remembered my pornographic phase, when I started to make the art - censored work or video where I'm touching and masturbation but I don't have the vagina. Yeah, I just touch one part of my body, yeah because this time I read too much Paul Preciado, yeah, The ”Counter-Sexual manifesto“. And I understand very well the gender is not biological but performatical. And I understood I have a desire of my body and maybe I create the pornography like a “militant place” for people who have desires too with my body. And this is the reason I made this video and after this Kubra Khademi exhibition opening in the galerie Eric Mouchet in Paris now. There's one very special painting, the three women making sex with the horse. And I remember the same time Hilda Hilst because “Porno Chic” has the different stories and one story has the zoophilie with one woman making sex with the horse. But I use the Lory Lamby [story], the little girl that prostitute herself…

And she tells these stories in a natural way, and everything is pink with an atmosphere of desire and violence. Because there is no desire if the man is older but when you're reading what is happening outside [in the world], you see many situations of violence if you want to grow, yeah. And I chose this to make my exhibition, this story, to think about what atmosphere I want to create here. To do this, I make everything in pink. At the same time it is pink, but dangerous. It is beautiful and dangerous. I mix desire and violence. And I went to the “Réserve des Arts de Paris” and it is the biggest space in Paris. The artists can buy materials that are recycled and not so expensive. And I bought a lot of leather, pink. Yeah, and I was thinking well, I want to paint my sculptures because I want to make a manual thing because for a long time I worked in industrial places - cutting with lasers - and for this exhibition I wanted to mix different languages for psychological aspects.  My first work was the video, then I did silkscreens, yes. And create one world for my body. Yeah, yeah. And this is about this.

Mauren  17:12

So you mentioned Paul Preciado and his book “The Counter-Sexual Manifesto”, which basically dismantle this idea of lateral centric social contract in society. And also the identities and behaviors of what is the norm? So for you, how do you see yourself in this? And how do you see how you can take your space because your work is a lot about taking space and demanding also the space because of the performance you did? Where you just went there and did them. You demanded the space. You took the space. You didn't wait for somebody to give you the space so this notional space is very important. How do you see that? You taking the space and for not only you, but for everyone else also?

Lyz 18:03

When I read this book, I felt normal! [laughter] Yeah, yeah. Because I can create the pop philosophy to talk about the body and not stay in the heterosexist body and the other time, sometimes, I have this shine for my performance in the public space because all the time that people look at me so much, and I feel maybe I'm different or yeah, I'm trans I know. But when you read this you understand the body is like a “performative construction” and I have many possibilities. Yeah, the construction of your body. Yeah, and it's okay. Yeah, it's okay if you want to be something else, not a normal person. What's normal? And it's very important for me because the manifesto is the strategy for changing this system and inside the book you can write your signature with your new name and you mix it: one feminine and the masculine name because for Paul Preciado, it is important you make the confusion for the mind of the other people. For fighting with patriarchy. For me, I read it and it was so much for my mind because well I make this normally [in a natural way]. [laughter]  Yeah, I don't need to read this book because my body is staying in this place and my body is so political for this. But when I read this I understood better my body as a “political space”. Yeah, I make many actions to make the discussion and create public debate about this. Yeah, and to think about this. For this I put together my ass and painted nails in color. Because normally, if you see this body and for this I mix the feminine signal and my ass are the video.

Mauren  20:07

if the image is basically what we see in the image to describe it. Yes, you opening your butt, you bring this image together

Lyz 20:16

Yeah. And mix this with my body. If I want to make these things, it's okay. But I make this video XXXXX (video title) because Paul Preciado and Annie Sprinkle - and Annie Sprinkle made “The Post Porn Modernist Manifesto“ (USA, 1989) like a movement to use the pornography like a militant space. Because her as a woman director - and the pornography normally is for men’s desire. Yeah. And I want to use pornography for my desire too. And to claim one space for my body and not stay in the normal heteromachist place. And I want to put this image in the word for people to see these and create their own desire for different bodies. Because imagine, I don’t have a vigina and if I wanna touch one part of my body and the people talk too much about desires. And the decentralization of the desires, of the sexual parts, and he does not talk about this in this book. And exactly. And before this, I made this video where I touch one part of my body, as a simulation of masturbation.

Mauren  21:22

It's a really nice video actually. I like it a lot. There's something really soft and sweet about it. Yeah. So in your work you examine the LGBT phobia, you really feel this phobia a lot. And what message do you want to share?

Lyz 21:39

In Brazil, the LGBT phobia is stronger. Yeah, it's very dangerous for trans people. The average age is 35 years old. Yeah, it's very time I stay in Paris. It's okay. I'm living in a place that is comfortable for me. But you went back to Brazil. I have fears of walking in the streets at night. Yeah, because sometimes people want to fight with you because you are an LGBT person, yeah. And you have places like the suburbs of the cities that are more and more dangerous. People kill LGBT people, yeah. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, I was born the suburbs and when I went in the art school, I had go to the rich part of the city and and all the time people asked me: You are the girl or a man or the lover and I felt ridiculous and because of this, I made these things for self-defense because was through many things in this place. And now in Paris, I am still at the Beaux-Arts de Paris, and I thought it would be very open, yeah, but no no…  I’ve had many problems with the technical men [staff], because imagine, I want to work in the metal studio, yeah. And the metal studio is officially for men, for work, etc. And before the opening of my exhibition, my teacher “metal studio” blocked me yeah and said: “I blocked you because you are behaving like a little girl”.

Mauren  23:11

oh… your behavior is like that of a  little girl!

Lyz 23:14

Yeah, yeah. For this, imagine, he said this to me and I went to the metal studio and made many objects for fighting, yeah, shields. And my work is a lot about the experience in my life too. Because well, I'm staying in a comfortable place in Paris. I know if I go in the streets people won’t fight with me and I will not die. Because it’s different Brazil - Paris, France yeah. Here it is a very safe place but I have subjective things all the time. Different things. Imagine, this teacher wrote to me this email “your behavior is like the one of a little girl and that is why I will block you from entering the metal shop”. And I couldn't believe I went to France, Paris for the first year of art school. It's so important, and the art school has teachers that are very very sexists and machists.

Mauren  24:08

In an art school you would expect people to be open, yeah?

Lyz 24:11

Yes, obviously, because the people work with art. Yeah, it is incredible. But well, after I booked the machines to finish my work. Imagine, I arrive in the gallery and say “I'm sorry, I am not finished with the sculptures because the technical teachers from the Beaux-Arts de Paris are very machist. [laughter] I can’t make this, I need to be professional, yeah. But many things happened in my life. It is not so open sometimes, it's very subjective. But the things happening yeah. And I'm trying to talk about this through my sculptures, it is a poetic place, I know. Yeah. But it is my way to express myself in one place. Because if I make weapons, if we make these things very dangerous, maybe people ask why? [laughter] Why does someone need to make this shield, etc.?

Mauren  25:05

It seems to me that people have, in general, have a very difficult time when the line starts to be blurred. You know, between gender and when there's this fluidity coming. They need to be, for some reason, reassured that this is a woman you know, a real woman, or this is a man.

Lyz 25:25

But I think this. When you have the possibility, yeah, in people… Fluidity is the most dangerous place. Because people see you are not a biological woman and they attack you.  When I arrived at the gallery - I was talking to Leticia, she is the gallerist - I had a problem with the moustache, because yeah, yeah, it is when people see and know that I do not have a vigina. And maybe they think: what is this body? What's happening here? Yeah, and I have a fluid body that has the characteristics of a biological man, yeah, it is a special problem for others. Because if I have the possibility, it's okay.

Mauren  26:17

Why do you think that is that people have such a difficult time accepting this.

Lyz 26:21

I don't know, I think everybody had an heteronormative education all their life and have the problems to understand this. I don't know. But to have other people it’s okay. I don't know. Because I don't believe is it because of the access since half of the people are not feminist but respect you and understand, like my grandmother told me the feminine never had a problem with this and never finished the school, not writing very well, just respect. I think it is important we have writing: Paul Preciado, Joye Bolte? , many theoreticians. But it is a bubble, there are only very specific people reading these things [essais/books]. The feminists, the artists, philosophers etc. It is important for you to create these things [artworks], but I don't know…

Mauren  27:13

What would be your ideal world, your ideal society?

Lyz 27:16

Well the society I don't have fears, I don't need to work in more than just men [laughter]. I've tried many artist’s residencies in Paris and there are other men, white, brazilian - and I have four pieces in different museums in Brazil, my curriculum has five pages - but the artist’s residencies accept the guys that just finished now in Les Beaux-Arts de Paris and never made a solo shows. I had four solo shows, yeah. And I just see why. Maybe because my work talks [and raises] about questions, like social taboos?

Mauren  27:51

Yes it questions things that maybe people don't want to question.

Lyz 27:54

Yeah, and I say my work is decolonial feminist sometimes for people, it’s too much. Because this touches the privileges of white supremacy. Yeah, etc. France is conservative. I think Paris is a cosmopolitan city but it’s old and difficult. The young people know, it’s ok. The teacher from the technical metal shop from the art school -  but I like so much to work a lot and make my work and I construct my way. But yeah, I see the difference. The white men don't have the same CV like me, never made institutional exhibitions and talk about nothing. They talk about nothing, yeah [laughter]!

Mauren  28:39

What would you advise a young man, a young artist that would like to live this life as a woman?

Lyz 28:44

When I turned 15 years old, I started to wear feminine clothes and my mother said: you want to be like this ? I will not give more money to you, go work! And my grandmother is perfect and she supported me all my life, yes. And I left my mother's house. But it's a process because first time in my mother’s mind yeah, I was the gay. But if I was gay, it's okay. Because it's about the performative, yeah, the feminine performative. But I don't know,  I didn’t have the day I woke up and said: Now I want to be a woman, yeah! I was just in the process, yeah, I was very young, 15 years old, imagine, and I was starting to use the clothes of my friends or starting to buy clothes and my mother's very Christian, they are difficult people. Today she respects me but she doesn't call me Lyz, my registered name, and calls me with a masculin name. My sister, who is 17 years old, calls me by my feminine name, Lyz. My grandmother too, but my mother, no! I have a piece in the São Paulo Art Museum and I have the card to go to the museum forever because I have an artwork there and so my mother has also this card in Brazil now, yeah. And the card has my registered name, so I said: you won’t go to the museum - and she said, yes I will tell them  I’m Lyz’s mother. [laughter] But she won’t call me this way, it is different!

Well, I respect you, I think it’s a  process, yeah. My mother respects me. I think it's important. One time in my life I fighted with everybody for my surname. Now I think it is not so important for me. I know when people don't understand my gender because I'm staying in the fluidity space too. And I don’t do surgery, I don’t do lasers, I don’t use hormones. Yeah, because now I want to focus on my career and it is expensive to make these things for us in Europe. It is very expensive. And it is a big decision. Because sometimes I don't know if I need to make this for me, or for this society to call me by one feminine pronoun. I think too much about this. It is not my priority. I want to be me and I think I need discovery in my process, what I wanna make or know…

Mauren  31:11

Yeah, yeah, we all evolve in life and change. This is beautiful.

Lyz 31:16

Yeah, yeah. I think I need to respect myself too. Yeah, because I don't need to do things for society. Because it’s very violent too, I like my body. Yeah. I like it and it’s ok.

Mauren  31:29

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Lyz 31:32

I want to say thanks so much. I'm very happy to make this exhibition. And it’s my work, my life, and I'm so happy for creating discussions in society about my body, because I think it is an educational place too for people who have empathy if there are people like me. 

Mauren 31:53 


Lyz 31:54

And for me it is the big goal!

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