Jono Lena


Jono Lena (she/they) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Salvador, Brazil. Her art revolves around gender, identity, ancestrality, and race in the face of white, heterocispatriarchal systems of oppression. Created from the center of what she calls the crossroads of sound, imagery, word, and body, her experimentation aims to reject the victimhood imposed upon Black, trans, queer, and gender non-conforming corporalities. Explore Jono’s Instagram account to learn more about her work and read a brief interview below.

Art gives us tools to pursue change and write our own stories.
Jono Lena

How would you describe your artistic practice in amplifying or supporting social movements? 

More than anything, my work tries to build possibilities of existence. I understand that existing as a trans, queer, Black, or person of color in Brazil (the deadliest country for trans people in the world) is a political act in itself. To be who I am today is only possible because of these communities, who gave me resources to build myself up and showed me that our lives aren’t less important than any others. So it’s not that my practice amplifies their voices—it’s more that we raise our voices together. My art is one of many tools that we use to resist in this white heterocispatriarchal and binary society. Actively fighting for change is the only way for us to exist.

What do you hope to achieve through this award?

As artists, we have a responsibility for making change and showing people new points of view. But we cannot do that if our basic material needs aren’t met, or if we’re not fed, safe, and healthy. Awards like that are very important to provide material security and also a safe space for us to express ourselves and cherish our accomplishments. Although I really hope my work outlives me, first I need to be alive to manifest it.

“Desire fits where body is. But where does body fit?,” performance photography | Jono Lena, 2020
“Healing Chant,” video art | Jono Lena, 2020
This experimental video piece aims to build ancestral technologies against the harms and sicknesses caused by colonization. Simulating a quarrel with her “internal colonizer,” Lena resorts to herbal medicine knowledge and chants from Candomblé (an African diasporic religion developed in Brazil) to reclaim the integral health of her body, mind, and soul.
“From Inside Out to Inside,” video art | Jono Lena, 2022
This work revolves around the connections and disruptions among trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming bodies, and the binary structures of heterocispatriarchal society, resorting to gender disobedience, affect, and ancestry as technologies to dodge and confront the many kinds of violence inflicted on gender non-conforming corporalities.

[Photo Credit: Ronald Borges Júnior]