Jonathas de Andrade

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The work of Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade consists of installations, photography (from archives or not) and videos. His works invite the viewer to reflect upon concepts such as memory, worldview, the use of image and visual vocabulary, and, ultimately, to consider how gaze and history produce stereotypes that define the way we approach the entire scope of human experience, and particularly the relationship between viewing, authority, and the power of the western canon.

Drawing from his own experience with the indigenous and black populations of Brazil, who live in remote, agricultural areas, impoverished by capitalism, Jonathas de Andrade invites us to observe not only the lives and daily struggles of those people, but –more importantly– the constructed idea of the “beautiful, exotic, naive and guileless native / Other”; an idea that can be traced across the centuries throughout the social, political and cultural manifestations of western colonialism.

In his video, The fish, the artist presents ten fishermen in the San Francisco river, located in Brazil’s degraded northeastern part. The camera follows individual fishermen catching their fish. De Andrade’s calm, relaxing filming lets us witness their work, pauses, and relationship with the natural environment and their own occupation. Borrowing the style of documentary and ethnographic films -which have always satisfied the curiosity of the western world and its need of fetishization, voyeurism and sexualization of difference, encapsulated by the concept of the “noble savage” – de Andrade interrupts the flow of the video by presenting a gesture on behalf of the fishermen, one that could be perceived as a ritual, or a local tradition, but is in fact completely staged: every time they catch a fish, they embrace, caress, and sometimes kiss their prey, until the fish dies.

By filming this rite, which is repeated by all fishermen, Andrade challenges the typical approach of indigenous people from the viewpoint of traditional, authoritative power, giving an almost religious undertone to their actions (the iconographic vocabulary could be alluding to the Madonna and child Jesus or Deposition of Christ painting types), while an ecological allusion cannot be ruled out either, especially after the recent destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which forces us to address our choices and position towards nature. Perhaps the fishermen, despite the fact that they kill and are fully aware of their actions, are also pleading nature for forgiveness.

Theodore Markoglou

12|10|2019 - 16|02|2020
Tue-Wed-Fri-Sat-Sun 10:00-18:00, Thu 10:00-22:00 Monday closed
4€ full admission. Available reduced admission. Admission free for certain groups with a valid ID.

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Funding Authority

ΕΣΠΑ 2014-2020

Organising Institution

MOMus