brazil pavilion translates idioms referring to the human body into playful installation in venice

Designboom_ Jonathas de Andrade has transformed the Brazil Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale 2022 into a playful installation composed of larger-than-life parts of the human body. Titled ‘With the Heart Coming Out of the Mouth’, the exhibition takes its cues from popular Brazilian expressions that refer metaphorically to parts of the human body such as ‘knot in the throat’, ‘in one ear and out the other’, and ‘eye of the storm’ among others. Considered one the most representative Brazilian artists of his generation, Jonathas de Andrade conceived the project at the invitation of Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, who was appointed by the Fundação Bienal as curator of the country’s representation at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

‘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,’explains José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.‘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.’

‘With the heart coming out of the mouth’ consists of photographic prints, sculptures, some of which are interactive, and a video. One of Jonathas de Andrade‘s main visual references for the exhibition comes from the science fairs he went to as a child. In particular, the artist recalls his experience of visiting Eva, a gigantic 45-meter installation of a reclining woman constructed in fiberglass and foam that traveled around Brazil in the 1980s, in which visitors could go inside to learn about the workings of the human body. Visitors step inside the Brazilian Pavilion through a gigantic ear and exit through the other. In between, they encounter sculptural representations of an eye on the floor, a bitten, severed tongue, hands in the fire, and a warm back, among other parts of the human body. All of them translate popular idioms related to parts of the body that describe feelings and situations. The proposal 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,’notes Jonathas de Andrade.‘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’.’

‘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,’says curator Jacopo Crivelli Visconti.‘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.’