Via Brasil residency artist makes an international splash
It's been almost three years since the Wex launched Cruzamentos, the exhibition that sprang from our Via Brasil inititative to support the work of contemporary Brazilian artists. In an altogether eye-opening show, one of the most memorable works was Jonathas de Andrade's installation O que sobrou da la Corrida de Carroças do Centro do Recife (What’s Left of the 1st Horse Cart Race of Downtown Recife), which included the video O levante (The Uprising). Now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, the striking video captured a thoughtful act of civil disobedience on the part of the artist—the staging of a horse race in a city where it was not legally permitted—to elevate issues of class division and cultural prejudice within the country
In addition to showing in Cruzamentos, de Andrade was also the recipient of a Via Brasil artist residency award to support the creation of new work, and the fruit of that relationship has made him the talk of the international art world. O peixe (The Fish), a new video by de Andrade co-produced by the Wexner Center and Recife-based producer Desvia Films, debuted last month at the Bienal de São Paulo. Shot in lush 16mm film to suggest a kind of early ethnographic film, the video depicts fisherman from the Northeastern coast of Brazil at work on the water. Using traditional methods of catching fish—casting nets, shooting spears, and diving—the fisherman then cradle their catches as the fish die in their arms. This ritualistic moment between predator and prey, life and death, is, in fact, a fiction created by the artist. The video, with its haunting images, has been called "the star of the show" by art critic Janelle Zara, writing for Wallpaper, and was featured prominently in an October 12 story in the New York Times, which hailed O peixe as "one of the most beautiful works in the Biennial."
We're truly proud to support Jonathas' work and happy to see such well-deserved recognition. Shortly after the Bienal closes December 11, the piece will start traveling, first to Toronto's The Power Plant in January. We hope to fit it into our programming schedule soon as well. In the meantime, enjoy a short preview of O peixe below.
(Image and video courtesy of the artist)