The work of Joana Vasconcelos possesses a singular ability to dialogue with the space and with different times. When interacting with the space, the unparalleled manifestations of the past, present and future in her work amplify the signification levels, particularly when the locations carry a dense memory and rich visual and architectural qualities.
Joana Vasconcelos has already demonstrated that the space is an integral part of her work and that both her work and the space acquire new nuances when they come together. If the work receives extra signification via its presence in a space, it is equally true that it reciprocates generously, informing the place with concepts that transgress the crystalized framework of everyday life, resulting from the ingenious dislocation operations that serve Vasconcelos’ work.
This particular and successful relationship between the place and the work has manifested itself in prior occasions. The artist’s works have been exhibited in various locations such as the Palace of Versailles; the Palazzo Grassi in Venice; the castle of Santa Maria da Feira; the Tower of Belém, in Lisbon; D. Luís bridge in Porto; Pinacoteca do Estado in São Paulo; Museu Colecção Berardo in Lisbon; the entrance to the former Arsenale in Venice or Lux nightclub in Lisbon; each of these locations hold their own widely diverse memories, architecture and public, all of which generate surprising results and remarkable receptivity.
This exhibition, presented at Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, constitutes a unique opportunity to introduce the public to an entirely new dimension of the palace and of Joana Vasconcelos’ work. The ambitious set of works - approximately 40 sculptures carefully selected for this exhibition - translate the last decade of the artist’s work, bring iconic pieces, such as The Bride, Red Independent Heart and Marilyn with, Lilicoptère, Perruque, Full Steam Ahead or War Games, together with recent works never before exhibited in Portugal.
To summon this strong set of works to play opposite the singularity of Ajuda’s interiors, with its precise handwork, rich textiles and naturalist aesthetics, means to inject life and a contemporary sensibility into a location which, in the past, invited artists to dialogue with and inhabit the space through art. Seductive, exuberant, humorous and groundbreaking, Joana Vasconcelos’ exhibition at Palácio Nacional da Ajuda promises to gain and to offer new meanings, presenting itself as an antidote that wakens the senses and challenges the programmed routines of everyday life.