Thursday, July 22, 2010

TODAY'S ART: Exhibition by Portuguese Artist Joana Vasconcelos at Haunch of Venison

LONDON.- In July Haunch of Venison presents I Will Survive the first survey exhibition of Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos to take place in London. The pre-eminent Portuguese artist of her generation, Vasconcelos came to public attention for her display at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Her stunning sculpture A Noiva (The Bride) took the form of a chandelier made from around 25,000 tampons and greeted visitors to the Arsenale. Typical of her witty and often provocative work, these unglamorous objects belie the sculpture’s grand structure. I Will Survive – taken from the tune made popular by Gloria Gaynor in 1978 – transports us to a world of embroidery and crochet, sex and simulacra. Of particular interest is the way in which contemporary technological and ethical “advancements” challenge traditional ideas surrounding identity. Finding her inspiration in the popular imagination and examining various themes of daily life, Vasconcelos focuses on the politics of gender, national identity and class. Following the principles of the 1960s art movement Nouveau Reálisme and acknowledging a debt to the readymades of Marcel Duchamp, Vasconcelos’ work frequently incorporates objects from daily life into expansive assemblages. A key aesthetic component of the exhibition is recognition or association and many of the works appropriate ceramic objects commonly found in Portuguese homes – as ironic status symbols or as substitutes for the real thing. In Mago (2009) a cat is wrapped in an elaborate coat of white crochet, while in Ariel (2009) a large ceramic lobster is covered in black crochet. The use of crochet alludes to an activity usually associated with women and traditional crafts but in these ingenious manipulations it is such perceptions rather than the activity itself which are rendered obsolete.


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