Portrait of Marielle: Animation, Artivism and Intersectional Feminism


This paper aims to demonstrate how the animation Portrait of Marielle acts as mediator in a journey between fear and hope, establishing connections between artivists (artists who are activists) in Brazil and Kenya. The study results from the activities of the eVoices Network, which investigates different uses of media technologies to combat marginalisation in both countries. We suggest that theoretical perspectives from intersectional feminism (Crenshaw, 1991) and, particularly, from the work of black Brazilian female authors (Ribeiro, 2017; Akotirene, 2019) provide a useful path for this journey. Having permeated debates on identity politics, such perspectives have been criticised for creating further divisions in societies that are already divided. However, our research indicates that intersectional feminism plays the opposite role of binding the realities of marginalised communities across the globe. This happens because intersectional feminism prompts us to acquire a deeper understanding of the complexities entailed in multiple layers of oppression, such as sexism, racism, and elitism, amongst others. Djamila Ribeiro’s (2017) thoughts on “lugar de fala”, or “locus of enunciation”, become helpful because they represent a call for people to reflect upon how their own identities and social standings, recognising their own privileges, and most importantly, empathising with minority groups.

As empathy emerges as a key issue, research on emotion maps in activism and social movements (Flam, 2005) becomes helpful. It guide us in understanding how emotions can become tools for maintaining relations of domination or, on the contrary, for countering oppressive power systems. We hope to show here that animation can represent a conceptual and methodological tool by lying at the intersection between art, mediactivism, and emotions. The paper is based on the experience of conducting the animation workshop “Portrait of Marielle”, produced with Kenyan art-ivists to pay homage to the Brazilian Human Rights activist and politician Marielle Franco.

We have adopted an ethnographic approach, conducting participant observations during the workshop in Nairobi and the screening of the animation in Rio de Janeiro. Additionally, we have interviewed ten artivists in Nairobi and ten mediactivists in Rio. The paper will follow a logic that is similar to the process of producing an animation itself. First, we selected and collected online frames that portrayed Marielle’s life and struggle. We presented her story to the group of artivists and they were literally able to draw on the images parallels with their own lives and realities. This unveiled how a culture of fear could be demobilising in Brazil and Kenya. A common thread was how the lives of the urban poor can be easily discarded and how this has been justified by discourses of security and insecurity. Yet, we wish to argue that artivism is essentially transformative. This is why animation, with its special ability to put images into motion, emerges as an excellent tool for such transformations.