LA group releases another visual poem of resistance
Sister Mantos self-describe as “disco punk experimental funk performance art freak ass band from Los Angeles via Central America,” which might sound like a lot of descriptors but it all makes immediate sense when you check out their prolific output of music and video work. Over the past few years they’ve put out a series of what they call “Brown Futurist” videos which, in the words of band member Oscar Santos, “choose to speak to and center the Brown inhabitants of this world. [These] films are inspired by my experience inhabiting a colonized, immigrant, multiethnic, multilingual, El Salvadoran, Latinx, Indigenous, queer and Brown body. This Brown Futurism creates spaces to celebrate, dream and explore Brown identity and take pride in existence as Aliens (undocumented or otherwise) in a world filled with white supremacy, misogyny and violence. And you can dance to it.”
Their latest work “QUEMAME” (“burn me”) is similarly as full and elegantly glossy as their other videos, though it takes a more minimal approach to more wholly showcase the beauty of its two subjects. “We wanted to make a video that celebrated us, a video that showed brown people being gorgeous and powerful without relying on the white-gaze,” says Santos. The video is centered around footage take by director Nathan Kim of model Veronica Jacques at a beauty salon in Los Angeles. The scene is then spliced with clips of an installation by Filipino-American artist Mark Golamco and Honduran-American floral sculptor Felisa Funes that was part of Golamco’s larger work Ghostlight. Earthen Ribbons documented the installation and montaged the scenes together to create the final video.
“Cuando te veo / Nunca cambias / Tu boca sonriendo / No se puede olvidar / Vives en las nubes / Bailas en mis suenos / Eres el viento que mueve el mar” the band sings on the first verse. It’s a fitting stanza for the images on screen, which combine with the song to form a powerful meditation on brown beauty and its ability to exist and survive and thrive despite constant attacks by white supremacy. The video all moves in slow motion, focusing the viewer on both the aesthetic and the internal power of its subjects who become, like the lyrics suggest, forces of beauty as strong and everlasting as the wind moving the ocean. Santos explains: “The video celebrates the beauty of the brown body, and is a montage of hair, skin, femme energy and hallucinogenic floral bursts of fecundity. In our socio-cultural moment, where white supremacy is grasping even more power and racists are having too much damn time on the screen, this video stands as a visual poem of resistance. It is a love letter to all the brown bodies living on this planet, a reminder of their beauty and their power.”