Like most recording artists with a political agenda, Lido Pimienta’s work comes packed with punch. The queer Afro-Colombian-Canadian musician creates music that explores the politics of gender, race, identity and what it means to be a Latina existing in a white terrain. Very recently, the Polaris Music Prize winner gained attention for the “women of color to the front” policy she has instated at her concerts, where white people are urged to move to the back of the hall so that people of color can come to the front.
“[Men] for the most part will not think twice before they put themselves right in front of you.”
This is not the first time a similar policy has been instated by a woman artist. Feminist punk singer Kathleen Hanna famously had a “girls to the front” policy at her band, Bikini Kill’s, shows in the ’90s, which garnered her backlash as well.
In an interview with Billboard, the visual music artist explained the reasoning behind the policy, which recently sparked controversy at a Halifax festival when a white volunteer at her concert refused to move.
“I started asking men specifically to go to the back of the room because in my 15+ years of attending shows, both on stage and in the audience, men make it unsafe for me to be in such spaces,” Pimienta tells Billboard. “From the audience’s point of view, [men] for the most part will not think twice before they put themselves right in front of you…Their presence usually at my own show is a threatening one and I have had men grab me, grab my hands, grab my waist, scream ‘TE AMO MAMACITA.’ My show is all about high energy and high feminine power, so I can see for some men my energy reads ‘sexual’ and they feel like my show is FOR THEM, when in fact, my show, if anything, is for WOMXN.”
Pimienta’s music is turning the spotlight on Latinx representation in the music industry.
This year, Pimientas’s album “La Papessa” won Best Canadian Album of The Year at Polaris. The album beat out renowned nominees like Leonard Conhen and Feist. All this despite the fact that the album is sung entirely in Spanish — a first for the prestigious Canadian award. Here in the States, the artist is also doing her part to give women of color a voice through her various projects.
“My work as a musician is one thing. That’s one side of me. I am a visual artist, I am an art critic and curator,” Pimiento explains. “I go around the country and States and South America and [give] workshops about teaching women like me how to survive, in the context of the Canadian landscape and beyond. So I am the institution. I am it. You’re looking at it.”
For Pimienta, one of the key purposes of her work is to give a voice to the intersectionality of being a Latina in a white man’s world.
✈️✈️N?E?X?T✈️✈️ FIRST STOP ✈️✈️??AMSTERDAM ?? . . . 10/30 @paradisoadam x @sylvanesso (Amsterdam) 10/31 @pitchforkparis (Paris) 11/1 @sebrightarms (London) 11/3 @icelandairwaves (Reykjavik) 11/4 @kexp session airwaves Reykjavik 12/6 – Spatz Theatre (Halifax) 12/7 – Playhouse Theatre (Fredricton) 12/8 – L’Astral (Montreal) 12/9 – Bronson Centre (Ottawa) 12/10 – Kitigan Zibi Community Hall (Kitigan Zibi) 12/20 – Opera House (Toronto) . . December dates are part of #newconstellationstour an @rpm.fm and co project follow @newconstellationstour for all details ? Photo/styling @ruthtitus ?
“As an immigrant, as an Afro-Indigenous person, as an intersectional feminist, as a mother and all of the other signifiers that qualify me as ‘other,’ I understand what it is like to not see yourself in the media, to not see yourself in institutions and to not see yourself represented or reflected at a music show,” Pimienta says. “Because the ‘artist of colour’ (and I put that in quotation marks because even that term is extremely problematic), we don’t get to see each other at that level.”
And while lifting the voices of women of color is at the top of her priority list, the artist stresses that silencing the voices of others is absolutely not.
“I understand the feeling of oppression and exclusion. I never asked white folks to leave my show,” Pimienta explains, addressing the fact that many have accused her policy of being racist. “I would never do that. I never ask men to leave my show. I ask them to share the space in a more significant manner as an act of love and solidarity with people who, outside of the music show bubble, have to constantly justify their existence to the world.”