Joana Vasconcelos (b. 1971) is one of Portugal’s leading artists and was the country’s representative at La Biennale di Venezia 2013. Her work engages in an investigation of gender, class and national identities through the media of sculpture, installations, assemblages, video and photography, all the while remonstrating against the routine of everyday life. In her works, she expands upon the principles of American Pop art and European Nouveau Réalisme, as well as the use of found objects by Marcel Duchamp in a manner compatible with the contemporary discourse.
Vasconcelos’ art is based on appropriation, decontextualization and subversion of preexisting objects. She disrupts and breaks out of the boundaries of deeply rooted cultural dichotomies such as private/public, traditional/modern, artisanal work/industrialization, feminine/masculine, high/low. Her use of a variety of materials (textiles, plastic, ceramics) and the techniques of displacement and imitation serves these ideas, which are also realized in grandiose site-specific works, like this one.
The artist conceived “Lusitana” from within a dialogue with the unusual geometry of the 27-meter-high twisted atrium in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s Herta and Paul Amir Building, which refracts natural light into the building’s various levels. The title – “Lusitana” (Lusitanian woman) – references the Lusitanian people who lived in the Roman province in the northwestern Iberian Peninsula and are considered symbolically to be the origin of the Portuguese nation. It echoes the development processes of gender identity in Portugal’s traditions and culture. “Lusitana” is part of Vasconcelos’ series called “Valkyries” (female figures from Norse mythology who hover over the battlefield and control the outcome of the conflict and the fate of the warriors). She has been engaged since 2004 in this series of suspended textile works that have a central body and outcropping arms in strange organic forms.
This unique work that reflects the artist’s idiosyncratic style is composed of soft textiles and ornaments that originated in Israel and Portugal. Vasconcelos combines industrial fabrics and handmade techniques – some universal, such as crochets, and others local, such as traditional felts from Nisa (a town in the Alentejo region in the south of Portugal) – into a spectacular, colorful and sensuous performance that penetrates the space of this contemporary digital architecture and dominates it.
The installation was made possible thanks to the generosity of:
Emmanuelle and Michael Guttman, in honor of Simone Guttman for her many years of dedication to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Terry and Jean de Gunzburg; Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
l'Association française des Amis du Musée de Tel Aviv
Sponsored by Isracard
Artist sponsored by
Production and Installation: Unidade Infinita Projectos, Lda, Lisbon; Tucan Design Studio Ltd., Israel
Project Manager Officer: Raphael Radovan
Video By: Yoav Bezaleli
Monday 04 November 2013
Saturday 14 June 2014
The Lightfall, Herta and Paul Amir Building