“The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents the exhibition Joana Vasconcelos. I’m Your Mirror, a selection of thirty works produced between 1997 and the present day by the most internationally reputed Portuguese artist, including a site-specific installation for the Atrium of the Museum and various other new works. In this show viewers can submerge themselves completely in the universe of an artist with a direct and humorous vision of the world, whose work explains many of our society’s contradictions without any apparent effort.
Some of Joana Vasconcelos’ works are extraordinarily complex: they move, make sounds, or light up. These complications are resolved by the artist in her 3000 m2 Lisbon studio with the assistance of a team of more than fifty permanent collaborators. Vasconcelos uses a wide variety of materials from everyday life to make these works, such as household appliances, tiles, fabrics, pottery, bottles, medicines, urinals, showers, kitchen utensils, telephones, cars, and plastic cutlery. With them the artist constructs light-hearted yet strikingly direct images that refer to socio-political issues relevant to post-colonial, globalized and consumerist societies, addressing issues that range from immigration to gender violence. There is always a sense of humor, and the pieces suggest open, non-dogmatic meanings similar to the relational aesthetics that emerged in the late 1990s, since they too require the viewer to participate actively in the perception and interpretation of the artwork.
Rich in external references, from Louise Bourgeois to popular culture, from the goldsmith to the fashion designer, and from handicrafts to cutting-edge engineering, Vasconcelos’s oeuvre addresses identity in all its dimensions, among other key issues, and reflects on her position as a woman and a Portuguese and European artist. Other fundamental aspects of her work are the relationship her pieces establish with the architecture in which they are displayed, a metalinguistic reflection on the nature of the artwork, and the inclusion of purely poetic elements.” — Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Valium Bed (Cama Valium), 1998. 10 and 15 mg Valium tablets blister packs, painted MDF, glass. 30 x 144 x 200 cm. Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Elvas – Coleção António Cachola. Work produced with the support of Roche Farmacêutica Química © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Meeting Point (Ponto de Encontro), 2000. Chrome-plated metal, wood and upholstery chairs, metallized and thermo-lacquered iron. 120 x Ø 550 cm. Coleção da Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Lisbon © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
The Bride (A Noiva), 2001–2005. OB tampons, stainless steel, cotton thread, steel cables. 600 x Ø 300 cm. Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Elvas –Coleção António Cachola. Work produced and restored with the support of Johnson & Johnson, Lda. © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Burka, 2002. Fabrics, metallized and thermo-lacquered iron, painted MDF stage, steel cables, polyurethane, electric system, motor, timer. 670 x 600 x 500 cm. Collection MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, León © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Red Independent Heart (Coração Independente Vermelho), 2005. Translucent plastic cutlery, painted iron, metal chain, power supply unit, motor, sound installation. 371 x 220 x 75 cm. Museu Colecção Berardo © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018. Photo Daniel Malhão.
Marilyn (AP), 2011 Stainless steel pans and lids, concrete. (2x) 297 x 155 x 410 cm. Collection of the artist. Work produced with the support of Silampos, S.A. © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Lilicoptère, 2012. Bell 47 helicopter, ostrich feathers, Swarovski crystals, gold leaf, industrial paint, dyed leather upholstery embossed with fine gold, Arraiolos rugs, walnut wood, woodgrain painting, passementerie. 300 x 274 x 1265 cm. Private collection. Work produced in collaboration with Fundação Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva, Lisbon © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Full Steam Ahead (Yellow) [A Todo o Vapor (Amarelo)] #1/3, 2014. Full Steam Ahead (Green) [A Todo o Vapor (Verde)] #1/3, 2013. Full Steam Ahead (Red) [A Todo o Vapor (Vermelho)] #1/3, 2012. BOSCH steam irons, PLC gearmotor, microprocessor-based electronic control unit, low pressure hydraulic system, stainless steel, demineralized water. (3x) 155 x Ø 170 cm. Collection of the artist. Work produced with the support of Robert Bosch Hausgeräte GmbH © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Call Center, 2014-2016. Analogue telephones, metallized and thermo-lacquered mild steel, sound system, oscillators driven by microcontroller. Music: Call Center: Electroacustic Symphony for 168 Telephones, composed by Jonas Runa. 20′ 210 x 80 x 299 cm. Tia Collection © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Pop Rooster (Pop Galo), 2016. Viúva Lamego hand painted tiles, LED, fibreglass, iron, power supply units, controllers, sound system Sound and light by Jonas Runa. 900 x 372 x 682 cm. Collection of the artist. Work produced with the support of Gallo Worldwide © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Ni Te Tengo, Ni Te Olvido, 2017. Ceramic urinals, handmade cotton crochet. 40 x 58 x 30 cm. Collection of the artist © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
I’ll Be Your Mirror, 2018. Bronze, mirrors Edition of 7 + 1 AP. 356 x 682 x 537 cm. Collection of the artist © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018.
Joana Vasconcelos. Photo credit: Kenton Thatcher © Unidade Infinita Projectos
Joana Vasconcelos: I’m Your Mirror is curated by Enrique Juncosa and Petra Joos, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Images courtesy Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.