Renowned Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade’s latest installation, titled “Olho-faísca” or “Spark Eye,” unveiled at the Armory Show, has stirred both curiosity and debate within the art world. Comprising 68 pairs of men’s underwear, each one a remnant of past relationships, Andrade’s creation challenges conventional notions of intimacy, desire, and queer identity.
Priced at a staggering $50,000, with each piece of underwear valued at approximately $735, the installation presents a provocative exploration of the artist’s personal history and the broader LGBTQ+ experience. These vacuum-sealed briefs are meticulously arranged, evoking the aesthetics of a high-end clothing boutique, inviting viewers to question the story behind each garment.
Andrade remains tight-lipped about the number of ex-lovers who contributed to this unique collection and the duration it took to amass these artifacts. Gallery partner Daniel Roesler acknowledges that the artwork generates considerable attention, with onlookers pondering the artist’s romantic journey and the implications of his creation on the male gaze.
To bring “Olho-faísca” to life, Andrade acquired a vacuum-sealing machine, meticulously sealing each pair of briefs himself. This project follows a similar 2020 installation featuring Speedos left behind in changing rooms across Recife, Brazil—a decade-long endeavor that underscores Andrade’s commitment to his artistry.
At 41 years old, Andrade’s work transcends the realm of mere artistic expression; it serves as a potent symbol of queer sexual liberation. Roesler aptly describes the installation as an exploration of desire and the gaze upon the male body. In a nation where LGBTQ+ individuals face ongoing challenges, Andrade’s installation may be interpreted as a celebration of gay sexuality and a testament to the endurance of queer communities.
While some of Brazil’s largest LGBTQ+ Pride events unfold in bustling metropolises like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, it is essential to remember that the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights continues throughout the country. Jonathas de Andrade’s audacious installation stands as a testament to the resilience of queer expression, inviting art collectors with both the means and an appreciation for the avant-garde to engage in this thought-provoking dialogue.