Jonathas De Andrade wears many hats. For him, being an artist means undertaking different roles, from the historian to the photographer, from the anthropologist to the filmmaker. However, his chameleonic identity is substantially grounded in the Northeast of Brazil, between Maceio and Recife, where he was born and where he lives today. Its urban landscape, once the hub of tropical Modernism, shows the dramatic signs of the failure of post-colonial utopia aimed at social equality. De Andrade seeks to chart some of those fault lines to focus attention on the dispossessed, the communities that are left out of the democratic process, whose lives are not covered by official history books, but are still heavily affected by socioeconomic despair and the power dynamics inherent in every society. His explorations are imbued with different styles and materials. In fact, for De Andrade articulating fact and fiction into composite narratives with competing language and visuals allows for a more honest, ethical representation of the polyphonic nature of reality. His practice also extends to institutional critique, through Museu do Homem do Nordeste (Museum of the Man of the Northeast), a work in progress dedicated to rethinking the eponymous museum in Recife and constructing a more inclusive national identity for the peripheral region of northeastern Brazil.

O Peixe / The Fish (2016) is a 16mm film shot with an ethnographic technique and subject, originally conceived for the 32nd São Paulo Biennial. It portrays a group of fishermen as they hold their catch, providing caresses and kissing them to ease their passage to death. The ritual, as realistic as it seems, was actually conjured up by the artist to reveal the borderland of violence and love in the domination of humankind over nature, alongside its inevitable dependence upon it. However, the film still bears ambiguous documentary value, because the fishermen did not rehearse prior to the shooting, nor did they have any camera exposure before, so their behavior can be deemed genuine and closer to a true interaction with the fish. De Andrade was inspired by this intimate take on survival in the life of a local fishing village in the northeast part of Brazil, but the underlying concept can be extended to other arenas in modern society. The artist explores the universal principle of cohabitation, which systemic forces like capitalism, technology, or intensive production cannot dispute. However, these forces do exacerbate or strain the principle, as evident in the diversified but porous Brazilian ecosystem and all around the world, where production and consumption are chained together without mercy. In this light, O Peixe / The Fish (2016) is also a metaphor of a different type of survival, that of the so called Third World carrying the weight of the First World. A form of impaired dependence, perhaps, worsened during the pandemic.