Jonathas de Andrade explores the themes and intention driving his art practice through specific works in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s exhibition Jonathas de Andrade: One to One. Weaving his identity as a Brazilian artist with his desire to make communities around him visible, de Andrade creates an honest portrait of unique human experiences.
The fun part of doing art is combining lots of characters. We can be a little bit of a historicist, of a photographer, of an anthropologist, of a researcher, of a filmmaker, of a drawer. I like thinking of my projects as a combination of these personas—
Recife is part of the northeast of Brazil, one of the first sites to be colonized by the Portuguese, and today it’s still a very complex place, where all the contradictions of being in Brazil, of being in South America, can be seen. One to One speaks about relation. It's the title of this large-scale installation of clay bars that create a large drawing of a real-scale floor plan of a social occupation by the train rail in Recife.
The title metaphorically speaks about the relation with the other, and this can be seen in the other works as well. For example, I'm presenting the installation Suar a camisa. The shirts come from workers, real workers, that are going to work and coming back from work. I would negotiate with them to buy the shirts, exchange for a new one. The shirt would come with the scent of the sweat And represent the presence of the body, So it challenges how the upper-class also reads the presence and invisiblizes the presence of the worker's body.
Another work, Jogos dirigidos, was shot in the small town of Várzea Queimada, a very dry area, in the northeast of Brazil with a community of deaf people. They created their own sign language, so they don't take the official sign language. And I proposed that we would shoot this video, that it was something between a dynamic of games in an open space and also exercises of speech, of telling stories of their lives.
People always ask me the relation of fiction and nonfiction in my work, in this work I can see that my presence provoked the situation of inviting people to speak about themselves in front of a camera. And going to the fields, creating a dynamic —a physical dynamic—of an exercise that, in those, I could clearly see the engagement, their engagement as a community, how they were engaged, how they were close, how they were sort of a family.
The Northeast is very stigmatized by the hunger, by the lack of opportunity, of education, and so on.
Here I am presenting the first steps of the project Infindável Mapa da Fome, the Endless Map of Hunger. In this project I'm taking historical maps to work on a series where hunger is understood not only as a nutrition, but hunger understood as desire.
For example, I'm presenting here The Map of Resistance. I worked with a group of Kayapo indigenous women who painted the maps where their territory is located. And on the side of these paintings, you can see all the hands that touched the maps.
The ongoing politics in Brazil, they created a deep battle for the indigenous and for other minorities in Brazil. And I think One to One speaks also about that, about how we deal with the idea that things are being decided in democracy, taken as legitimate, but actually we don't feel–or we disagree. How do we relate our own responsibility with these decisions that are being taken under our name?