Being free is my utopia. Freedom is the most important thing for me

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The June issue usually gives way to a new 20-something list, featuring models, musicians, actors, illustrators, fashion designers, photographers, artists, architects,... and so much more. The people who are a representation of young society in Belgium, a generation ready to rule our world. In 2020, hence the double number, we’re serving you, hungry hearts, 2 editions of our acclaimed list. That’s right, we’re doubling the number of features, starting a bit earlier. Let us introduce you to the faces you didn't realise you wanted to meet!

Miguel Soll  

Photographer/director, Brussels

What do we & our readers need to remember about you?

I’m a Brazilian visual artist working mostly with photography and cinema. I have a raw, dreamy-like aesthetic and I work with themes like intimacy, sexuality and youth. I work with fashion, documentary and conceptual photography.

What is the (near) future bringing you?

I think any idea of the future is overwhelmed by this constant present we’re living in, it is difficult to project myself. But I’m trying to use that in my work. Recently I have finished a series called When I try to see there’s only blur and it talks about the difficulty of projecting an image of the future, and how our will to define it actually breaks that image. I want to publish it in a zine or to print it somehow. I’m also working on a new series called To stand still in the middle is to accumulate the centipede of everything and it talks about inertia. Once everything is done I’m gonna begin to shoot it.

What are you up to these days?

I’m using the time to develop old projects. I’m using my boyfriend’s vhs camera to do small videos at home, I got back into writing. But I’m doing everything at my own pace, with no pressure to be productive.

What artists are you listening to?

I’m varying between Mount Eerie for the sad moments, Gal Costa, Maria Bethânia and Marina Lima to remember Brazil and a bunch of post-punk/darkwave/techno groups for workout and party times (Boy Harsher, Schwefelgelb, Krompomat, Lebanon Hanover…).

Which records are you playing most right now?

Fullgas, Marina Lima, Wave, Patti Smith, Pajubá, Linn da Quebrada.

What makes your heart go faster these days?

Watching a good film that would ‘disarm me’. The moment when the feeling emulated on the picture goes through you and you are filled with this foreign emotion that finally becomes yours. I feel like I’m so overwhelmed by everything that is good to be reminded of how it feels to feel.

What are you doing daily at 9pm/9am?

9pm - I’m smoking, making dinner and then watching a film while eating.

9am - sleeping

How do you bring some routine into your days?

Being locked down means to wait: everything I do is just a variation of this state. Staying for so long inside the same apartment gives you a limited possibility of ways of placing your body, of places to go. In that way, every move becomes its own repetition, its own routine. I’m thinking a lot about that lately. Of how our bodies react to the accumulation of time, of ways of breaking the routine to feel my body not as the household object that it has become, but again the unpredictable organic form that it’s supposed to be. I’m trying to put that into the work I’m producing during this. Maybe I’ll come with a new series or film, let’s see!

What does your face mask look like?

My boyfriend graduated in physiotherapy, so he had some old FFP2 masks stored from his student years. When needed I’m using those!

What’s your personal utopia?

Being free. Freedom is the most important thing for me.

What brings you satisfaction?

Smoking a joint with a cold beer in the sun.

What’s your favourite lockdown Instagram account?

David Lindert’s Instagram (@the\_radiant\_baby). I love his photos and poems, they cut directly through me. It is really inspiring.

What’s your favourite lockdown book?

Don’t know if it’s my favourite lockdown book, but I have just begun reading Querelle de Brest by Jean Genet and I’m loving every line of it.

one of my favourite huis clos is Rope by Hitchcock

What’s your favourite lockdown film?

Anything from Derek Jarman, John Waters or Gregg Araki. I live for their queer worlds and each one gives me a different kind of abstraction of queer life, which it is really helping me get through this. But if the irony of the moment allows, one of my favourite huis clos is Rope by Hitchcock.

How do you keep healthy?

I’ve begun to exercise regularly, which I have never done in my whole life! Also, I’m trying to diversify my activities: a little shitty TV watching, some exercise, some intellectual activity (writing, working, reading).

What’s one of your sources of inspiration that may surprise people?

I really have a hard time knowing how people see me, so it’s difficult to know what could surprise them. For some people may be saying that porn inspired me, for others maybe ultra-romantic poems. Or competition reality shows, I love some gratuitous emotion!

What would you like to be doing in 10 years time?

Putting out a feature film. Maybe the first one, or the second. Let’s see how productive I can be in 10 years!

How does the current crisis make you feel?

Cautious. Concern. I think the world is going to be a worse place to live in and I fear how governments are going to deal with the post-crisis situation, especially in developing countries like Brazil. A lot of people are already suffering more than others, especially immigrants, the LGBTQ+ population and other marginalised groups that are always ‘forgotten’ by governments. I don’t even know how it is going to be with me, a Latin-American gay immigrant in Belgium. This stretch of time we’re living, the collective grief, the wait… All I have are questions and even though I want to create things, I think it is time to just look and think. And that perspective has weirdly made me regain interest in the world. I’m writing again, trying to express myself without any pressure other than being true to my feelings. The impossibility of living in the world made me want to live in it even more.

I think the world is going to be a worse place to live in and I fear how governments are going to deal with the post-crisis situation

How important are fellow companions now? How do you reach out to them?

They are everything. As I have recently moved to Brussels I don’t have a lot of friends in town, so nothing’s changed for me in that department (most of my friends live in Brazil). I talk with them daily on WhatsApp, DMs on Instagram and occasional skype calls.

What is the latest/future project you are working on?

I’m currently doing the post-production of the latest film I did as part of Rubis Collective. It’s called Quand je ferme les yeux (When I close my eyes) and is a documentary about masturbation and how we become our inner pornographers when we use our imagination to jerk off. It should be out soon! Also, I’m trying to organise a porn film festival in Brussels for the next year.

What will the second part of 2020 bring you?

I hope I’ll be shooting a new film with Rubis.

Who is the person that most influenced you throughout your development in life?

I don’t think of one person, but a whole lot of people that came across my path, my family, my friends, my boyfriend… And then a lot of famous people that helped me with their words, their images, their songs.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned lately?

The importance of self-fiction. I was always struggling with my idea of honesty because that's what I most believe personally and artistically. I have a very personal and intimate approach to image and the idea of fictionalising myself seemed too commercial, like if I was a product, a marketing device. But I have come to the terms that reality is not a ready-made product but something we keep on building every second, we cannot be passive about it. That has helped me a lot.

Is there anyone in your scene who needs more attention?

Yeah! My friend Lucia Marques (@luciamarquesx) has a very beautiful and personal work with photography, embroidery and collage. Also, Augustē (@a.u.g.u.s.t.e) is a very good friend of mine who is coming to Europe this year and has a potent work including performance and dance. In Belgium, I love the work of Antenna (Can and Stijn, @aanntteennaa), they have a very sensitive way of seeing gay life. But mainly I’d like to say that every LGBTQ+ artists, especially immigrants, should have more institutional attention. Is it very difficult to create while being away from home, isolated from society and dealing with all the problems that being a foreigner can bring?

Comfort food/speciality dish now?

A big Brazilian ‘à la minuta’: rice, black beans, a bloody steak, fried eggs on top of it, fries and salad.

Lockdown hobby?

I’m back on playing Ragnarok!


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