Happy publication day to Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta’s La Movida! Tati and Nightboat fellow Snigdha Koirala celebrate by discussing the collection as mixtape, falling in love as body horror, and more. You can put this playlist on shuffle (curated by Tati) as you read on below!
Snigdha: La Movida spans across and pulls together the queer punk movement, Chicana feminism, anti-colonial, and anti-fascist politics. Can you speak to the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the book, and the ways in which you cultivated relationships between them?
Tatiana: Hmmm…well, I guess I should start by addressing the title.
The name was partially inspired by the concept of “movida” in Chicana feminism; I wrote the first draft of “No Wave” on the title page of the book Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era, something I’d been reading for another project. I had also been listening to music from La Movida madrileña, the queer punk countercultural explosion that exploded after Franco died, while writing and editing the book and going through a very difficult transition in my life and the U.S. as whole was in this false transition (ashes to ashes, fascist to fascist). I had originally intended to call the book Pure Beauty; but “movida” is such a luscious and seductive concept and we were (are?) living through one. A “movimiento” is the movement as a whole; a “movida” is the move that a movement makes, imagines, gestures – and in the context of la Movida madrileña, a scene or happening. “Happening” reminds me of Fluxus, of course…& “movimiento” reminds me of “ollin” – literally “movement” in Nahuatl – which takes me to the Mexica concept of “nahui ollin” – I could go on forever.
I don’t think of La Movida as something that pulls all these together; but that’s cool if it seems like that. I think of La Movida as a mixtape of anti-colonial, anti-fascist love poems written by a recovering anorexic alcoholic former teenaged performance artist (whose anorexia and alcoholism are rooted in, well, colonialism and fascism). Everything is written from different – in some cases, minutely different – vantage points: lover as girl; lover as boy; lover as hot dead revolutionary fuck they/them; lover as borrachx; lover as danzante heshicanx; lover as A side boleros B side Eskorbuto punk.
Snigdha: The collection is as visual as it is textual. I was particularly struck by the illustrations dispersed throughout the book and the ways in which they appear as iterations of one another. What was the process of developing a relationship between the visual and the textual like in your work? In what ways did they perhaps inform the poetics and politics of the collection?
Tatiana: I’m always drawing as I’m writing, and writing as I’m drawing. They’ve always been equally part of me. I identify strongly with things such as naguales, werewolves, and werejaguars – a shapeshifter, but not malevolent – probably because I have C-PTSD or am bilingual or trans or grew up crossing the U.S./Mexico border so much or something…someone smarter than me has probably already written some kind of theory about this. In any case, I feel like my drawings have always mapped that better than my writing. They’ve always felt like sites where I can embody my fluidity and desires much more succinctly.
Snigdha: One of the biggest threads that runs through the book is one of desire and love and the ways in which it couples with revolution. Can you describe this relationship in the book, particularly as it relates to your exploration of Chicana feminism?
Tatiana: I wouldn’t call the book an “exploration of Chicana feminism.” I’m not entirely sure what Chicana feminism is, to be honest. My mom and other movement elders have always spoken about how the failure of revolutionary movements in the so-called movement era to adopt a feminist agenda is what ultimately did them in; and feminism was often framed as this sort of divisive thing, something for white women, in the Third World Movement here in the U.S. And now, we see the rise of carceral and capitalist feminism and trans exclusionary (so-called) radical feminism, whose commitments to structural and patriarchal violence are actually extremely anti-feminist…and love is the antithesis of structural and patriarchal violence. I don’t understand calling yourself a radical and operating from a place of structural violence, like the marginalization of trans people, for example. You’re literally doing what the dominant culture is telling you to do.
Do you know that New Order song “Perfect Kiss,” where the singer convinces his fucked up friend to put down the gun and go out and have some fun? There’s a line “I know / you know / that we believe in a land of love.” Like not to be all fucking hippy dippy about it, but think about it. What is the most radical thing you can do? Love someone. As Che (I know, I know) said, “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.”
And then there’s the fact that I literally fell in love with someone. Romantic love is presented to us as this site of gendered inequality; you can accept that, or you can use love as the powerful world building tool that it truly is, seeding revolution in intimate space.
Snigdha: Similarly, there’s a kind of vengeance or rage—something very cutting and biting—running through the collection, and this is apparent in the ways in which you employ a kind of feminist horror. It reads to me almost as a flipside to your explorations of love and desire in that it feels as necessary to the idea of revolution as love and desire do. How did you cultivate and manage these multiple threads around the idea of revolution in the book? How did these seemingly-opposing elements shape and inform your poetics?
Tatiana: Isn’t falling in love a sort of body horror? Are rage and vengeance opposed to love? I think I need to think about this. Maybe a revolution is a braid? And love and rage and vengeance are the strands? And desire is the ribbons my mamá used to weave in?
Snigdha: The collection develops the voice of a lovesick, teenage folklorist in order to explore concepts of revolution, domesticity, housework, and love. What was the process of developing this voice like, and in what ways did it shape your explorations of these concepts?
Tatiana: I fell in love. I fell in love during what is hopefully the fall of empire, & was lucky to have an excellent tape collection.
TATIANA LUBOVISKI-ACOSTA was raised in Los Angeles, California by a family of single women, and grew up traveling and living across the western United States and Mexico with their mother, a cultural anthropologist. Their latest book is La Movida, published by Nightboat Books in 2022. Tatiana’s first book, The Easy Body, was published by Timeless, Infinite Light in 2017; their writing has appeared in SFMOMA Open Space and Wolfman New Life Quarterly. They live in a rent controlled apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco, around the corner from where they work as a barista at a pop and pop café video rental store hybrid and as a peer sexual health educator at CCSF’s Project SURVIVE.