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Joana Vasconcelos


Joana Vasconcelos (b. 1971) is an international visual artist with a 25-year career that spans from monumental sculpture to drawing. She was the first woman at Venice Biennale, the first Portuguese to exhibit at Guggenheim Bilbao, and the youngest artist ever at Versailles Palace, reaching a record-breaking 1.6 million visitors. Her work updates the arts & crafts concept to the 21st century and incorporates everyday objects with irony and humor, creating a bridge between the domestic environment and public space, while questioning the status of women, our consumerism society, and the collective identity. By 2020, her work is displayed in Boston (USA), Lisbon (Portugal), Yorkshire (England), Aarhus (Denmark), New Dehli (India), and Macau (China).

The nature of Joana Vasconcelos’s creative process is based on the appropriation, decontextualization and subversion of pre-existent objects and everyday realities. Sculptures and installations, which are revealing of an acute sense of scale and mastery of color, as well as the recourse to performances and video or photographic records, all combine in the materialization of concepts that challenge the pre-arranged routines of everyday life.

Starting out from ingenious operations of displacement, a reminiscence of the ready-made and the grammars of Nouveau Réalisme and pop, the artist offers us a complicit vision, but one which is at the same time critical of contemporary society and the several features which serve the enunciations of collective identity, especially those that concern the status of women, class distinction or national identity. From this process derives a speech which is attentive to contemporary idiosyncrasies, where the dichotomies of hand-crafted/industrial, private/public, tradition/modernity, and popular culture/erudite culture are imbued with affinities that are apt to renovate the usual fluxes of signification which are characteristic of contemporaneity.