Popular Brazilian expressions that refer metaphorically to parts of the human body such as “knot in the throat”, “wood face”, “eye of the storm”, “turn tripes into heart”, “with arms crossed”, “pushing it with the belly”, among scores of others, serve as inspiration for the new installation With the heart coming out of the mouth by Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade (1982, Maceió, AL) for the Brazilian Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, which opens on Saturday 23rd of April and continues until the 27th of November.
“This commission by Jonathas de Andrade looks outwards from the peculiarities of Brazilian language to approach universal questions, creating images that many international visitors to the Biennale will identify with. With this exhibition, the Fundação Bienal reinforces our mission to foster Brazilian art and take the most vibrant of our country’s artistic production to the furthest corners of the globe”, explains José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.
Considered one the most representative artists of his generation, Jonathas de Andrade conceived of the project at the invitation of Jacopo Crivelli Visconti (also curator of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo – Though it’s dark, still I sing, in 2020/2021), appointed by the Fundação Bienal as curator of the Brazilian representation at the oldest biennial in the world. The proposal for the Brazilian Pavilion comes from the artist’s deep interest in reflecting on the formation and idiosyncrasies of the Brazilian people, taking into account historical episodes and processes.
“There are hundreds of popular expressions related to parts of the body that describe feelings and situations. They encompass the literal and the absurd to give an account of subjectivity, which for this moment in Brazil, is highly revealing. Using these expressions to speak to the perplexity of the Brazilian body in relation to the present in so many instances – politically, socially, ecologically – seems extremely potent to me. The expressions in this collection provide an overview of the national emotional panorama, for instance ‘going in one ear and out the other’ and ‘to crack the heart’”, explains the artist.
The exhibition consists of photographic prints, sculptures (some of which are interactive) and a video, and among the references are science fairs the artist went to as a child, in particular the experience of visiting Eva, a gigantic 45-meter installation of a reclining woman constructed in fiberglass and foam that traveled around the country in the 1980s, which visitors could go inside to learn about the workings of the human body.
“Today the path towards “representing” Brazil, or perhaps just alluding to it, inevitably passes through the bodies of those who live, flesh and bone, in daily hardship, through the violence and injustice that repeat year upon year, decade after decade, century after century. A body literally and repeatedly fragmented, silenced, ignored, torn into pieces. Yet these isolated and objectified parts also transcend the body, when another structural element of this exhibition comes into play: language,” affirms Crivelli Visconti.
Curated by Cecilia Alemani, the Biennale d’Arte 2022 takes its title from the book The Milk of Dreams by surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (1917, United Kingdom – 2011, Mexico). In Alemani’s words, “the artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination, and where everyone can change, be transformed, become something and someone else. The exhibition takes us on an imaginary journey through metamorphoses of the body and definitions of humanity."