Even when he was starving, Ioshua was driven by his need to make art. Drawing comics and writing poetry about his life as a young gay man living in the slums of Argentina.
“...I still don’t know how I managed to find the will to write despite my circumstances. How could I write? How crazy was I? Undernourished and dying of hunger. Alone and living in a shack made from sheet metal and plastic, and I still wanted to write..?”
But Ioshua continued to produce stories about his life. He was inspired by the music of Cumbia Villera that pulsed through the shantytowns in the 1990s and early noughties.
“I discovered cumbia at home. My house was very shoddy, so the walls were very thin. So all of the cumbia music would seep through the corner boys, the street style, and I saw an aesthetic in all this.”
Ioshua went to Buenos Aires to the cafes and art galleries. He hoped to meet people who liked art and culture. He hoped they would talk to him, share their thoughts, their experiences, see he was just like them. Instead they ignored him.
One day, Ioshua took his sketchbooks up to a gallery. They curators liked what they saw, and displayed his drawings of young gay street boys in the window. The pictures sold, and soon Ioshua was having his art and poetry published.
“I don’t believe in originality, I think it’s a vain pursuit. Posing.
“If you go down the path of trying to be original, you’re trying to change the world.
“It’s been done before and better.”
Film-maker and photographer Juan Delgado’s short film Ioshua: Escaping from a Shantytown Closet tells the story of the young queer multi-media artist, poet and performer‘s break from poverty and desperation to success.
Ioshua’s comic art: