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When the Land Speaks: Jonathas de Andrade

July 31 – Sept. 2, 2018

Projection Gallery

Jonathas de Andrade, O peixe (The Fish) (video still), 2016. Courtesy the artist, Alexander and Bonin, New York, and Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo.

Jonathas de Andrade, O peixe (The Fish) (video still), 2016. Courtesy the artist, Alexander and Bonin, New York, and Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo.

Jonathas de Andrade, O peixe (The Fish) (video still), 2016. Courtesy the artist, Alexander and Bonin, New York, and Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo.

Jonathas de Andrade’s work, which spans photography, video, and installation, examines mythologies, social conventions, and political ideologies. Andrade puts a particular focus on Brazil, his country of birth, and explores the nuances of artifice, often blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality. O peixe collects ten vignettes in which individual fishermen from a village on Brazil’s northeast coast embrace a fish that they have caught until it stops breathing. Tension builds in each scene as we experience the simultaneous expressions of tenderness and dominance in the fishermen’s ushering of the passage of death. Shot on 16mm film—a low-budget format historically used for educational rather than theatrical filmmaking—O peixe adopts the ethnographic film style used by anthropologists to document the traditions of diverse (typically non-Western) cultures. The fishermen’s action appears to be an intimate local ritual, but in fact it is an arbitrary gesture invented by the artist. The exoticized portrait masterfully stretches the limits of plausibility, and prompts us to question the lens through which we perceive “truths.”

Jonathas de Andrade (b. 1982, Maceió, Brazil) lives and works in Recife, Brazil. 

When the Land Speaks

This program presents the work of artists who explore the land as a space of conflict, which speaks through a changing, often fractured landscape. Addressing current issues such as resource extraction, sustainability, land rights, and displacement and dispossession, the works in this video series approach language as a form that does not limit itself to verbal communication. Instead, enunciation takes place in and through the territory: in the sounds and forms that water takes, in the rumbles and cracks of the earth, and in the ancestral rituals and practices derived from the landscape. In many ways, land and language have always been interconnected, each helping to define the other. But in our present day, there is a growing disconnect between much of human society and any sense of rootedness or care for the land that supports us. Confronting these realities, the artists in this series draw attention to the power of the landscape to express itself and communicate with us, and reflect on how our eroding connection to the land may also represent a fading understanding of ourselves.

When the Land Speaks is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates and Steven L. Bridges, Associate Curators. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Alan and Rebecca Ross endowed exhibitions fund.