press release

This spring, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents Jonathas de Andrade: One to One, the next iteration of the MCA's Ascendant Artist series. De Andrade addresses history, labor, and language in the northeast region of Brazil around the central themes of communication - as in a 'one-to-one conversation' - and scale, as in a 'one-to-one reproduction.' Presenting four installations, each at a different scale, the exhibition showcases de Andrade's work across a range of mediums including photography, installation, and video, and explores ways to listen more intently to one another. The exhibition debuts three never-before-seen works including a new film commission, Jogos dirigidos(Directed games), that examines an exchange between members of a deaf community. Jonathas de Andrade: One to One is organized by former MCA Associate Curator José Esparza and runs from April 13 to August 25, 2019.

Jonathas de Andrade lives and works in Recife, a city in the northeast region of Brazil called Nordeste. In contrast to the recent economic boom in the southern parts of the country, the region's coastal cities and arid backlands are marked by a history of colonialism and underdevelopment.

A combination of economic and cultural factors in the region inspire de Andrade's inquiries into the human condition. Jogos dirigidos (Directed games) is set in Várzea Queimada, an off-the-grid town in Nordeste where there is an unusual prevalence of deafness among the 900 inhabitants. Looking like an educational video, Jogos dirigidos (Directed games) depicts a group of deaf individuals from this community as they use a self-taught system of gestural signs to play staged, charade-like games and tell stories. The characters communicate with one another through their hands, bodies, and facial expressions, displaying a richness of language and forms of interpersonal communication beyond the human voice.

In addition to the film commission, the exhibition premiers two other new works including the namesake of the exhibition, Um Para Um, a large installation of clay bars mounted on the gallery wall that trace the floor plan of a multi-unit housing complex in Nordeste at a one-to-one scale. Through the small living quarters, de Andrade exposes the living conditions and density of these apartments, drawing connections between the shape of the rooms and the networks of multigenerational kinship of its inhabitants. In addition, de Andrade presents Sudene, an installation of government-issued maps that he annotated with different types of hunger in the land and territory of Brazil.

The exhibition also reflects on Brazil's ongoing conversations about race, class, and labor, calling attention to the people and places overlooked by greater economic forces. A large-scale installation, Suar a camisa (Working up a sweat) presents 120 used t-shirts of Brazilian laborers displayed on wooden supports in a grouping that resembles a public assembly or a crowd of workers. To create this work, de Andrade approached male laborers working in the streets of Recife and asked them to exchange shirts with him. While the workers in the installation are absent, their collective presence is tangible--the unwashed shirts retain stains and smells from the laborers' bodies.

A full-color, illustrated publication on de Andrade's practice and recent work accompanies the exhibition. The publication features contributions by José Esparza, Julieta Gonzalez, Lisette Lagnado, and Nina Wexelblatt, in addition to a spread featuring stills from de Andrade's new film commission Jogos dirigidos (Directed games).

Jonathas de Andrade was born in 1982 in Maceió, Brazil and lives and works in Recife. In his work, de Andrade collects and catalogs architecture, images, texts, and life stories and recomposes a personal narrative of the past. Past solo museum exhibitions include the New Museum, New York; The Power Plant, Toronto; Museu de Arte de São Paulo; Museu de Arte de Rio; Musée d'art Contemporain de Montréal; Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon; Museu de Arte Contemporânea de São Paulo; Centro Cultural São Paulo; Instituto Cultural Banco Real, Recife; and Instituto Cultural Itaú, São Paulo. De Andrade has participated in SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; Bienal de São Paulo; Performa15, New York; Lyon Biennial; Istanbul Biennial; New Museum Triennial, New York; and Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre. His work has been featured in group shows around the US including Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Question the Wall Itself at the Walker Art Center; and Unfinished Conversations: New Work from the Collection at Museum of Modern Art, New York.