Monday, 2 February 2009

joana vasconcelos

el matador, 2007

Joana Vasconcelos caught the attention of the international art world in 2005 at the Venice Biennale. Her sculptural work is that which often marries highly intelligent concepts with playful execution.

el matador, 2007

Her work will be immediately recognisable to some of you for the volume and dexterity of crochet work. However she makes important sculptural pieces which pull upon a great range of influences, materials and disciplines. Her output is prolific, having it's roots in sculpture it has grown in scale and detail, range and focus. From outdoor installations to video, ceramic, fabric, and hair, from feminism, identity, globalisation to alcoholism, themes of intellect and kitsch.

victoria, 2008

Vasconcelos' work repeatedly plays upon the tension between the large scale of peices and the small initmate details of their technical execution. The materials and techniques used are employed to cleverly communicate subversion and strength, having great impact from afar then pulling you in closer.

gorette, 2006

For example the monumentally scaled chandelier pictured below, A Noiva (the bride) is made from around 25,000 tampons. This is not just a simple ironic nod to that which is feminine, but also a global bookmark. This was shown at the 2005 Venice Biennale and understandably drew international attention and much admiration.

a noiva (the bride), 2005

Chandeliers have been widely seen as great statements of status and glamour - the larger they are the more expensive and covetable. However this one has the impact from afar but none of the crystalline sparkle. The tampon would appear to represent a tedious chore in most western women's life, however Vasconcelos has remarked that a man she met in Turkey made it quite clear that it has further significance. In this man's culture, the tampon is frowned upon, seen as something that causes infection and destroys a woman's virginity.

the island of love, 2006

Artists often use images of porn, brutality or drudgery to convey feminist sentiments. I feel that too frequently women's sexuality is seen as the dominating force in their identity (and increasingly used by women themselves as a tool for progress). Of course there are so many other complex components and persona's which create the whole person.

happy family, 2006

The 'community of women' is frequently conveyed by images of domesticity, of repression or sexual subversion. In Vasconcelos' work I feel there is a more broadly feminine and more universal way of prompting thought about what it is to be a woman, not simply from whichever is specific to our own culture. My feeling is that her work is huge on first appearance, but it begs you to come and study the detail, learn more about it's complexity, contradictions, surprises or mundanity and draw your own conclusions. Perhaps that's an appropriate analogy for womanhood?

happy family, 2006

Using crochet, a method of craft which has obviously been used throughout the history of most cultures, enables her to connect with women of any nationality. However the skill obviously has different implications to each nation, as with the tampons.

happy family, 2006

It is interesting that women are fascinated with the doily, the beautiful intricate art of crochet and lace-making have undying appeal. Vasconcelos highlights our feminine instincts to clothe, covet, smother and suffocate by using them on an almost gargantuan scale. However these images are so frequently perceived merely as 'beautiful' and 'pretty' as the skill of the hand work is of course something so rarely seen on such a scale in a public arena. But it is refreshing to see the craft moving into the arena of 'art' in a revered way, gathering mass appreciation.

contaminacao, 2008

Her large scale piece 'Contaminacao' (Contamination), shown in Sao Paolo in 2008 is by contrast a huge, sprawling, colourful piece which dribbles and spreads through the public space.

contaminacao, 2008

It is viewed from different heights and angles, inviting people to interact with it. Made from garish fabrics and knitting, it seems playful and toy-like. Yet it creeps and spreads with parts that look like bacterial cells. It is almost like a strange sci-fi organism which could be terrifying were it not for the soft, colourful appearance.

contaminacao, 2008

In opposition to the cloaked, paralysed sculptures of before, this enormous piece is warm and human, bringing people together both in the gallery and in the making of it. As men and women we all connect with fabric on many different levels. Therefore the piece here can be experienced as you physically journey along it and as you mentally and emotionally travel back through your catalogue of textile experiences and connections.

joujoux, 2007

Seeing a celebrated artist using her work in such a number of deeply human and emotive ways, encouraging people to interact with it, becoming a part of the community alongside the makers, is incredibly refreshing.

joujoux, 2007

It will be interesting to see if the recession and our move towards craft, recycling and a renewed humility will engender more such inclusive art.

joujoux, 2007

Vasconcelos work is too wide-ranging and thought-provoking for me to do it justice here. I highly recommend that you follow this link to her website and research her incredible work for yourself.
contaminacao, 2008

I am obviously concerned on this blog with the textile-based work, but her ceramic and other sculptures are equally inspiring and significant.

I discovered her work via someone who sent me an email last year but unfortunately I no longer have their contact details.. sorry.

With thanks to Joana Vasconcelos for kindly allowing me to use her images.


dell said...

Hi Elvis, thanks again for more wonderful work. I love these covered crochet statues, and am reminded a little of the AMAZING Louise Weaver who I think you may be interested in.

pen said...

What a way to start the year of Lovely Textile posts!
Glad you are back.

La Bastidane (Nathalie Locquen) said...

Thank you for this post.

Happy Harris said...

Thank you for sharing this amazing artist with us....I love the lace crocheted statues too, they look so pure and protected and yet decadent and advantgarde at the same time...I also love the colourful requisitions...well I would wouldn't I!!

Thank you for visiting my blog and introducing yourself...I love your name and your blog too :)

Love Happy x

Annabelle said...

Amazing work and if I had not read the post I would have never guessed the construction material; very enlightening.

Thanks Elvis

Hugs Annabelle

Unknown said...

such incredible inspiration! I hope things are good with you!
hugs from Emily in Norway

Mr Lee said...

it is so beautiful!!welcome to my blog

willing to exchange and share the views with you concerned.

Unknown said...

wow that art (and post) is amazing

Anonymous said...

Found your blog through googlesearch "Sandra Backlund".

Incredible posts you make. Truly lovely.

Greetings from a knitter...

Hawk and Weasel said...

Simply stunning!

silk fabrics said...

really i love and appreciate ur wonderful, amazing work again. i love ur blog

Resume Writing Service said...

Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

Anonymous said...

hi elvis, i came across your blog via researching work on joana vasconcelos. thank you for sharing.

please have alook at my blog and perhaps link if you like it:
its on textile works,
best wishes, simone

streetcolor said...

lovely textiles your blog is beautiful,calm, cogent, inspiring and exciting. I have been looking everywhere for a textile blog with work that is super fine. Everything I've seen is extraorinary.thank you. {knitted street art}

Expert Textiles said...

Brilliant Work !!!!!!


Web Design said...

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Apron said...

Pretty good post.

José Carrilho (Go Detail) said...


The fact that A Noiva won't be exhibited in Versailles (according to latest news) corroborates the ideas that you expressed in your article.

Best regards,


nfl jerseys from china said...

Amazing work and if I had not read the post I would have never guessed the construction material; very enlightening.

Thanks Elvis

Hugs Annabelle