“Where I come from, Jesus is a blond man with blue eyes. Wandering around the River of Jordan, I realized he hardly could have looked like that.” This realization was the starting point in the pursuit of a “new face of Jesus” by artist Jonathas de Andrade (BR, 1982). His installation Looking for Jesus is being presented at A Tale of a Tub as part of his residency in the Justus van Effen Complex.
Curators: Carolyn H Drake & Nathanja van Dijk
Looking for Jesus
A Tale of a Tub invited the Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade as the second participant of its International Residency Program. The departure point for the invitation was his project Looking for Jesus, which the artist developed during a stay in Amman, Jordan. There he started looking for an alternative and contemporary version of the face of Jesus: a face that complies with a non-western standard. The twenty portraits that De Andrade presents as a possible Jesus do not depict the white man with blue eyes we know from Western iconography.
De Andrade interviewed the twenty portrayed men in Amman and asked them what they thought of a contemporary version of Jesus. As such the artist brings up the complex relationship between East and West and between Christian iconography – in which the image of Jesus is widespread – and Islam – which forbids the representation of God and his prophets. Simultaneously De Andrade decolonizes the dominant image of Jesus from the Western canon by presenting the new Jesus with an Arab appearance. And why not? After all, Jesus was a Semite like the Arabs.
Visitors to the exhibition at A Tale of a Tub are invited to select the new face of Jesus out of the twenty portraits. In doing so, De Andrade organizes an alternative election that runs parallel to the Dutch parliamentary elections. During a time of increasing fear of adopting “the other”, with this installation De Andrade breaks with existing and threatening image making in an urgent and timely manner.
International Residency Program
In 2015 A Tale of a Tub launched its International Residency Program with South African artist Igshaan Adams (1982). This year he is succeeded by Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade (1982).
The International Residency Program focuses specifically on artists whose roots lie outside the Western artistic canon. Their practices address universal questions by zooming in on individual histories and local cultures. The artists are encouraged to make connections with the local context and histories in which A Tale of a Tub operates with the aim of building bridges between ‘global’ and ‘local’, between international developments in art and the social and cultural conditions of the neighborhood of Spangen.
About the artist
In his work Jonathas de Andrade focuses on personal histories and brings them in relation to the social, political and ideological realities in which these histories occur. From a private and intimate perspective, he sheds new light on social issues, such as the notion of failed modernism, cultural amnesia and issues of representation. His anthropological research poses a new perspective on historical and current events through the fictionalization of universal truths. The artist often works with documentary material that forms the basis of his exploration into the social and cultural conditions of the place where he works. This historical material becomes interwoven with his own findings and imagination, creating an intricate web of fact and fiction. In doing so, De Andrade is able to make social dynamics and internal power relations visible and palpable in a subtle manner.
During his residency in Spangen, Rotterdam, the artist dives into the eventful history of the monumental Justus van Effen Complex, home to A Tale of a Tub. This history serves as a blueprint to gain new insights into the social and cultural conditions of Spangen, the most demographically diverse neighborhood of the Netherlands. Over 80% of households in Spangen are of non-Western origin. In his research De Andrade interweaves ideals of modernist social housing – on which the Justus van Effen Complex is based – with the complex social fabric of the neighborhood today. His research will lead to the production of a new work presented at the end of 2017 at A Tale of a Tub.
Jonathas de Andrade was born in 1982 in Maceió, Brazil; he lives and works in Recife. Recent solo exhibitions include: the Power Plant, Toronto (2017); New Museum, New York (2017); Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro (2015) and Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2013). He participated in the São Paulo Biennial (2016), SITE Santa Fe Biennial (2016), Performa 15 Biennial (2015), the Gwangju Biennial (2014), the Dakar Biennial (2014), the Lyon Biennial (2013), and the New Museum Triennial (2012). His work was included in large group exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2016), Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago (2016) and the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014).
This project is generously supported by OUTSET Netherlands, the Mondriaan Fund and Crown Fine Art.