This is one of six durational interviews upon which the following work is based:
'Love Story,' 2016
Featuring Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore
7-Channel Installation: 7 Hard Drives
Duration: 73 minutes, 42 seconds, loop
The other five interviews featured in this multi-channel installation can be accessed via separate links on this Vimeo page.
What kind of stories are we willing to hear? What kind of stories move us? 'Love Story' interrogates the mechanics of identification and the conditions under which empathy is produced. Evoking the global scale of the refugee crisis, the work evolves out of lengthy interviews with six individuals who have fled their countries in response to a range of oppressive conditions: Sarah Mardini, who escaped war-torn Syria; José Maria João, a former child soldier from Angola; Mamy Maloba Langa, a survivor from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Shabeena Saveri, an Indian transgender activist; Luis Nava, a political dissident from Venezuela; and Farah Abdi Mohamed, a young atheist from Somalia. The interviews were conducted in the cities where each individual is seeking or has been granted asylum (two in Berlin, two in New York and two in Cape Town).
Interviewee: Luis Nava Molero
Interviewed in New York City on 13 November 2015
Fled Caracas, Venezuela
Granted asylum in New York, USA
Born in 1960 in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Luis Ernesto Nava Molero was an effeminate child who was relentlessly bullied and taunted by other children, but also sexually abused by his stepfather, who stayed home with the kids while his young mother worked long shifts at the local Chinese restaurant to support the family. His fear of disappointing his deeply homophobic mother, as well as his own internalisation of the homophobia that was perpetuated by the Catholic Church, ensured that he kept silent about the abuse. He was convinced that he deserved it. His stepfather did not accompany the family when Luis’s mother decided to relocate herself to Caracas with the children to seek a better life, but
Luis continued to be a victim of harassment in the capital city, where he was persistently at risk in an oppressively macho culture. A failed attempt to “become a straight person” by enrolling himself in a military academy eventually led him to the sanctuary of university life.
A promising, politically minded student (who looked to figures like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro as role models in the utopian early years following the Cuban Revolution), Luis soon won a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union. He arrived in Kyiv to study international economic relations as Mikhail Gorbachev was ascending to power, witnessing first-hand the growing disparities between the ideals of the Communist Party and the realities of Soviet life. He returned to Caracas in 1989, a few days prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, still a keen supporter of the theoretical potential of socialism.
Hugo Chávez’s rise to power soon led to disillusionment, as Chávez’s paramilitary regime rapidly became dictatorial and aggressive, often violently oppressing political opposition. Luis was offered a prestigious professorship at the Universidad Simón Bolívar. He continued to live his public and academic life very much in the closet, fearing the repercussions of coming out. Refusing to be silenced in his critique of Chávez, Luis was brutally assaulted by three men late one night as he left campus. The attack was intended to teach him a lesson for “being a mouthpiece of antipatriotic capitalist propaganda”. “Fuck your mother, Professor Nava, you little faggot, nobody needs you here.”
Fearing for his safety, Luis fled to the United States, where he was granted asylum as a political dissident. Today Luis lives in New York City, where he advocates for others seeking refuge and freedom in the United States, and works as an activist in the LGBT immigrant community.
Duration of interview: 03:49:58