20th June – 15th December 2013
Gucci Museo is pleased to announce Joana Vasconcelos as the
fourth contemporary art exhibition of works kindly on loan from Pinault Collection with thanks to M. Franҫois Pinault. Curated by Francesca Amfitheatrof.
Gucci Museo is proud to present 3 exemplary works: Red Independent Heart (2010), Psycho (2010) and Lavoisier (2011).
practice is characterized by a decontextualisation of the familiar - be
they household objects, plastic spoons or national icons - and the
deconstruction of how we identify things, particularly gender, class,
and nationality. There is a political current to Vasconcelos’ work: the
1974 and the stifling patriarchal culture of the Salazar years form the
backdrop and counterpoint to her ferociously energetic reinvention of
Portuguese, and specifically female, identity.
She has inherited and
assimilated the visual language and themes of Duchamp’s readymade; the
pop art of mass consumption exemplified by Warhol and Oldenburg; and the
subversive, at times humorous, feminist voices of Louise Bourgeois and
Eva Hesse. Perhaps more importantly, she incorporates traditional
Portuguese crafts such as crochet, filigree and ceramics into her work,
both as art practice and as historical subject matter.
Red Independent Heart (2008)
Suspended from the main gallery ceiling, Red Independent Heart is formed
of thousands of translucent red plastic knives, forks and spoons half
melted and shaped in an iron framework to create a beautiful, gracefully
rotating heart-shaped form accompanied by the sound of traditional
Portuguese fado singing.
The heart is in fact a plastic rendition of a popular piece of
Portuguese jewellery, “Coração de Viana” (“The Heart of Viana”)
recreated on a monumental scale: it originates from the town of Viana do
Castelo in North West Portugal, made using the technique of filigree - a
craft rather like lace-making, using metal rather than thread, and
practiced in the town since the middle ages.
Fado gives the work its
title: it is a lyric from the song “Estranha Forma de Vida” (“Strange
Way of Life”) and brings to the work another element of Portuguese
history, the songs of performer Amália Rodrigues, whose much loved voice
has dominated Portuguese popular culture since the middle of the 20th
century, and is as familiar and pervasive a symbol of Portugal as The
Heart of Viana it accompanies.
Photos by Alessandro Moggi - © Gucci
Lavoisier (2011) works on a more domestic scale, but is just as rich in
meaning. It is made up of a stainless-steel kitchen sink entwined in the
brightly coloured textiles that form so much of Vasconcelos' work. The
crochet-work links this piece to a key idea explored on a much larger
scale in one of her most famous works, Contaminacion (2008). The
handmade nature of the textiles, their soft texture, and their dazzling
bright colours create a counterpoint to the machine made, grey-steel,
stifling domesticity of the kitchen sink. They envelop it with an
uplifting creativity, echoing the invasive, subversive nature of
Contaminacion, The work speaks of the relationship between the modern
industrial world and the traditional artisan world, the human and the
modern, the ambiguity of progress.
Courtesy Haunch of Venison, London
Psycho (2010) continues the theme and takes it a stage further.
It is made up of two stainless steel showerheads linked together by a
flowing tube of crochet-work, glass beads, and polyester, all in an
aqueous palette of blue and green. Its title is familiar to us from the
1960 Hitchcock film in which the shower scene has come to represent an
iconic image of violence against women. Again we have the dazzling
textiles and the domestic setting, but now with the sinister reference
to Hitchcock and violent emotion. The title Psycho seems refers not only
to the showerheads but also, in a more positive way, the manic energy
of the snake-like textiles. It gives expression to a key theme in
Vasconcelos’ work – the dichotomy between reason and emotion.
Crédits photos : Bertrand Huet
Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris
Hand-made (2008) documents, in a looped video projection, the
handcrafted work in crochet and knitting, of five women of different
generations, countries and cultural backgrounds. The permanent circular
travelling of the camera portrays the work and socializing between the
protagonists, on a trip that covers some of the most emblematic examples
of Portugal’s architectural heritage, from the megalithic Almendres
Cromlech near Guadalupe, to the Pena Palace in Sintra, the epitome of
Romantic architecture in Portugal, highlighting the documental character
of the project. “Hand-made” thus reveals an intricate web of relations
of an ethnographic, sociological and historical meaning.
Joana Vasconcelos is a Portuguese artist born in
Paris in 1971. She studied at the Ar.Co Centre for Art and Visual
Communication in Lisbon from 1989-1996 and first came to global
attention at the 2005 Venice Biennale with her work A Noiva (The Bride).
A witty riposte to Marcel Duchamp’s ‘The Bride Stripped Bare by Her
Bachelors, Even’, it consists of a 5 foot chandelier made entirely from
25,000 tampons. She was the first female artist to be invited to show
work at The Palace of Versailles in 2012 and is the sole Portuguese
representative of The Venice Biennale 2013.