59th Venice Biennale

Jonathas de Andrade: A Transition between the Erudite and the Popular

Invited by curator, Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, artist Jonathas de Andrade, from Alagoas, is Brazil’s official representative at the 59th International Art Exhibition – The Venice Biennale. His work Com o coração saindo pela boca (With Your Heart in Your Throat) approaches popular manifestations as absolute sources of cultural strength and reinvention.

C&AL: The popular is also present in your earlier work, like in Cartazes para o Museu do Homem do Nordeste (Posters for the Museum of Man of the Northeast). How does your Biennale work dialogue with your previous interests and research?

JA: I think I bring together several of my interests in this project. I see the fascination for language and for the word, looking to popular manifestations as absolute sources of cultural strength and reinvention, the idea of collection and indexing as the backbone for a system of images, the desire to navigate with ambiguity through what is intense in existence and visual metaphors. I like to develop a theme through sets of images, and in this project, I continue that with a photography installation and a video experiment, but also, I ventured a little further in the way of sculpture, which is an area I’ve always been curious about.

C&AL: The body, between the physical force of work and the erotic, or as an identity marker, is also an element that is present in other work of yours. What is the role of the body in Com o coração saindo pela boca?

JA: The body in this work navigates a little through all those areas, but this time, the body gains an allegorical dimension for Brazil. Through language, we can get close to the universal disorder of existence in other cultures, passing through the creative and disconcerting force of the erotic, passing through the contradictions of nature and of ecology, through the prisms of multiple identities, and through the afflictive beauty of existence.

C&AL: For the work you created photographs, sculptures and a video. Why did you choose those media?

JA: With Your Heart in Your Throat is like a feeling of gravity which is both a peak of emotion and an almost vertigo. It always seemed exciting to me to try to handle this conceptual kick in many forms. Sculptures take up space and relate to the modernist building, which is the pavilion. The collection of expressions occupies a constant during the exhibition, as happens in my previous projects, like Ressaca Tropical (Tropical Hangover). I like to think of photographs as a set of images which, as a whole, make up a kind of sensorial complexity. And video brings sound and narrative power, the power of the image in movement, and mythical beauty, Latin American magical realism, and the capacity to add sound to the whole space. Sculptures can have a kinetic and sensorial dimension, which invites the public to behave physically in the space that is there before them. I like to think of art as a medium that I can use to inspire feelings and involve the public in games of meaning that talk about the present and to invite collaboration of those who arrive to complete the meaning of what I try to bring.

Jonathas de Andrade is an artist from Alagoas who works with social issues through installations, video and photography.

Camila Gonzatto is one of the editors of the magazine C& América Latina.

Translation: Sara Hanaburgh