“Definitively, this not a love poem. It is an invitation to go back to choosing ourselves.” –Ines Ripari

Last night I wedged my way into a spot on the floor, conveniently located mid-aisle amongst the crowd at La Casa del Árbol. Next to me, knees overlapping mine, sat one of the many women my age sporting a variety of funky, hipster-chic fanny packs I could never pull off. I squished around, gracefully hitting everyone with my backpack, trying to get comfortable. As the music started I parked my beer under the chair of the lucky woman sitting in the chair above me, relieved that at least my beverage had some room to breathe.

The energy in the room was palpable— excitement tinged with an undertone of amateur incredibility. Bruta read, “This is not a love poem. It is the fight for rejecting the inertia of fulfilling the wishes of others and forgetting our own. Definitively, this is not a love poem, it is an invitation to go back to choosing ourselves.”

Bruta, the two-person collective behind this event, haven’t been doing this for long. This was their third event, and the second edition of their fanzine publication of poetry and art. From Ohdiosa’s haunting vocals, to a stunning erotic narrative from Gabriela Cabezón Camara the night was powerful from the onset. With readings from the two poets (Martina Cruz and Camilia Guardia) featured in the zine, to a late night Destiny’s Child cover from Automail, the event was stacked with the power of female artists sharing a space.

I had a chance to sit down with one of the members of Bruta, Ines Ripari, to understand the intentions behind the night of poetry and music themed around the idea of self-love.

I know that you don’t want to define what Bruta is…but what is Bruta? Who are you? How did this collective begin?

They are two of us, Agustina Gomez and I (Ines Ripari). We started Bruta last year because we wanted to make something. We worked together in the same place and we were motivated to do something. A friend came to us with a proposition of a girl who wanted us to edit. So, we started to edit on paper the texts of these two girls. We had been thinking of doing something between the two of us, but we needed content to do something and then these two girls appeared. So we started to edit their texts almost without wanting to, like it just happened to us. It was a process really between the four us. We weren’t functioning so much as an editorial, more as this thing we built between all of us. It really characterized us as Bruta from the beginning. We didn’t function only as an editorial, we managed projects collectively, and it was great because it was the poetry at first, but not because we wanted to edit poetry. Our intention was to create, to make with a ton of equality, to create a space for women.

Why the name “Bruta?”

What happened was that we started to think about a singular word. We wanted a feminine word that we identified with. Agustina found the word and it was really strong from the beginning. For me, bruta is to be clumsy, but also to be strong, and in one word it’s very empowering. It talks about a ton of things about what it means to be a woman, but from another point of view.

In what sense?

In the sense that bruta, I mean, perfection does not exist. To be imperfect is maybe to be bruta, wild, we run to the place where the woman is on the side of perfection, but it’s totally the contrary. We always say that we are learning. To understand that everything is a journey of learning and they we don’t know, because we are brutas and that it is from this place that we learn. We started to edit without knowing how to use InDesign, without knowing how to do anything seriously. Everything was new to us. It was an adventure for the two of us and one of ignorance. When we went to print the first fanzine they told us it was made so meticulously, because we were so focused on the tiny details. Because we didn’t know how to do anything of it, we did everything so slowly and so manually. I think for both of us it was a huge learning curve to see what happened from the initial idea of the zine to the sensation of materializing it and seeing it and feeling it and sharing it.

This event isn’t the first for Bruta, what was?

Our first event was Mujeres Malas in December. We put together a night of poetry. It was more in the hands of the poets who organized it. What happened was that the event was way stronger than we thought it would be. It functioned really well and we saw so many women united together. Because it was an event only of women reading poetry and I think from there, in some form, this event embodied Bruta. It was always a really important space of learning for both of us. We are both really honest with the idea that we don’t know. We accept that we don’t know so we try to create with good intentions, understanding that we might fail.

What joins us is the necessity to make, to materialize something, to generate spaces. We hate defining ourselves as an editorial. We could go in another direction. The poetry isn’t what’s important; it’s just important that we continue to create. The more doors we open the more we realize that there are so many people, so many women that want to create. From there we just need to find the form or the space and get these women together. It’s beautiful.

The idea of this event is that it is an adventure of navigating self-love in a time of emotional abuse, what does that mean? What is the importance of this event given this current climate?

When we were looking at the texts of these two writers we realized they both dealt a lot with the theme of self-love. Maybe with the rejection of romantic love in favor of self-love, simply this, also as a form of resisting. In this fanzine, unlike the last one we put out, the poems are less romantic and more empowering or come from a different place of empowerment. Less sensual and erotic like our first fanzine and a lot dirtier or grittier.

Because there’s a necessity now that didn’t exist before or…?

No, just for the style of the writers. They are both from Zona Sur and simply the style of their writing has something more of a fight, a rejection of romantic love, because you can fight alone. It’s what we both saw in the texts

This event is poetry but also music and a display of screenshots from the hilarious Instagram account Amordel2000. Why the mix of forms?

We believe in a lit bit of everything, of connecting everything. I think that art spaces share. The arts are contagious. I always say that I’m a picada. I’m not just one thing. I’m a million things. Before I played the drums, now I edit, I write, I organize clothing fairs. I do a ton of things. There’s this fear in society of doing more than one thing. There’s an impression that you need to do one thing really well, rather than a bunch of things sort of well. I don’t believe in this. I think it’s a lie. We can do a ton of things. It’s amazing to explore. What matters is that you try, that you try with the best intentions that you have even if it’s imperfect, even if its bruta. The most important thing is that you do it. The only important thing is that you keep creating.

To combine different disciplines is important because the two of us (Gomez and I) are like this. We are uncomfortable defining ourselves, to enter ourselves into only one category, because it isn’t enough. I think this connects us, because neither of us are any one singular thing. In the zines you see the aesthetic that is Gomez and the writing, the literature and poetry, that’s maybe more me. But in this event there’s a narrative, poetry, music, and Amordel2000.

Explain how you’re using the Instagram account Amordel200.

We always wanted to do something with them, something editorial but not a fanzine. We thought about doing a ton of things, but decided on a curated wall of screenshots. Super millennial. We wanted to do something interactive because we felt that what they do at Amordel2000 is interactive. It connects us in a way where we send whatever bad things happen to us in screenshots to this account to be shared. We wanted people to leave their phones behind though, to grab something in their hand that they could take away. We divided screenshots into categories to open up the question, to bring people closer to the idea of self-love. If this isn’t a love poem, what is it? We want people leave with the question not with the answer. What is self-love?

So what is self-love?

What is self-love? I don’t know what self-love is. I have my own answer. For me, self-love is to occupy wherever you are completely. To be stoked to be where you are with who you are and with purpose. To return to choosing yourself, but above all to be stoked to be where you are, to not separate yourself from this. I think it’s a great question, super interesting because I also don’t know what it is. Many people have no idea what it is. They say that you have to love yourself, but what are they saying with this? What do they mean by this really? I think that, at least in my experience, it’s not waiting on anyone, not waiting for the reply of anyone, or molding yourself to another. Simply, let yourself be. I think this is self-love. To be bruta also, because perfection doesn’t exist. It’s important.

What do you hope to accomplish with this event? Or what do you hope your audience takes away from it?

The most important thing that happens is the environment that remains in these events to unite the people from a place of love. The idea of sharing is what interests us, to create a space where everything and everyone is… all good. It’s the first time we are in a cultural center. We don’t know how it’ll work, but I love the guys at La Casa del Árbol a lot. I think that we are trying to accomplish the same thing, to generate spaces of acceptance and acceptance of the brutishness of each person. To leave the showing off behind and to try to simply just be… that would be great if that happened.

The poets, the musicians, everyone involved in this event is a female. Why only women?

Because I’m interested in it being a space for women, nothing more than that. It’s a space that I’m interesting in opening. We all already know that as women we lose spaces everywhere. As a result we have to open them, make our own. In the face of this, in this moment, we think it’s necessary. I, personally, think we as women are taught to compete, and the power that women have together is immense. It’s important to show that, to put that in the foreground. And if we can, why wouldn’t we? It’s that simple. We chose all women, not for a question of separatism, not at all, but because we’ve chosen to give this space to the women.

What is the importance of making art?

I’ll give you a really personal answer, the consciousness. I don’t know what has meaning outside of art. I think the art functions as a form of connection between people. It’s a resistance. It’s a resistance against everything outside that is bad. It’s a huge, enormous refuge. It’s an enormous refuge where not everything is lost, like it is outside of art. I don’t mean to be so pessimistic. It’s like it’s a huge park, an enormous park. What a title, “The art is a park.” The place where you can rest from everything, from everything that is bad outside, from everything that hurts us.

What’s next for Bruta? Are there plans for the future?

Maybe yes, maybe no. We don’t know. We are growing. We are really honest with the uncertainty. We’re not tying ourselves to the time that runs… I mean to say we’re not really up to the speed of what is happening. We are going step by step. We will finish this project and see what happens. The most important thing is to see we’ve learned, that we’ve opened doors for others to create, and that we’ve created spaces of a ton of acceptance. These are our modern refuges.

 

Last night I got to witness one of these refuges, to experience firsthand a space that allowed us to appreciate ourselves as we are, to understand the difficulty of self-love, and in that struggle the beauty of the fight. At the risk of eye-rollers worldwide, I don’t think it’s hippy-dippy bullshit to declare that you gotta’ love yourself. You have to.

To me it’s the root, that which feeds all the other types of loves, and arguably the most important of the bunch. Call me millennial, or new wave, or naïve and narcissistic, but I think we really need more of it. Self-acceptance and self-love, so as to not fall into the deep spiraling pits of despair with everything that is happening. What with failing Argentine economies, and potential sexual violating US Supreme Court judges, the heaviness can be overwhelming. So, I decree it important to love; to love oneself and to take care of that self. And also to consume art. To go listen to poets and musicians that explore these concepts, that create spaces that allow us to see the importance of it all, to make us feel maybe not so alone after all.