Eu, mestiço takes as its starting point an anthropological study titled “Race and Class in Rural Brazil,” carried out by Columbia University in partnership with the UNESCO in the early 1950s. At a time when Brazil was seen as an epitome of racial democracy, the study aimed to establish racial typologies and to search for a possible structural genesis for racism in the country.
Local people across the country were shown portraits of black, white, and mixed-raced Brazilians and asked to qualify these people’s attractiveness, presumed wealth, intelligence, work ethic, and morality, among other attributes. The results of the analysis clearly presented racist stereotypes. And while the photographs used to conduct the questioning prompted the participants to manifest prejudice, the images themselves were not included in the resulting publication.
Juxtaposed to qualitative words taken directly from the UNESCO research, Andrade’s work produces a certain discomfort in viewers, inducing them to reflect on their own racial and class prejudices.
Printed on mass-produced material typical of signboards, the photographs recall both the visual aesthetics and stereotypical images of street advertising, bringing to light the ways in which photographic images continue to shape preconceptions about race and class.
By means of photography, installation, and video, Jonathas Andrade intertwines collective memory and history, combining hints of reality and artifice to create an ambivalent space in which he can explore the tensions of race, social class, and labor. Brazil is the focal point of his explorations. In 2014 he work was included in the exhibition Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today, presented at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and then at the Museo Jumex in Mexico City. Andrade has participated in the triennial of the New Museum (2012) and in the biennials of Istanbul (2011), São Paulo (2010), and Mercosur (2009). In the exhibition Jonathan Andrades: One to One (2019), the artist presented his work for the first time at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.