During our trip to Paris last month, the Partner and I made the pre-requisite visit to the Palace of Versailles as any good tourist should! Truth be told, this was my second visit to the Palace, however my first visit consisted of a 45 minute mad dash through the main grounds due to poor planning we ended up showing up an hour before it closed! Needless to say my memories of the space are fuzzy (or blurry) at best, so it was a treat to be able to revisit the spaces and really spend time lingering in each of the rooms and strolling the grounds.
During my visit, I was lucky enough to be introduced to work of French artist Joana Vasconcelous, who is currently based out of Lisbon. According to her bio, her work is,
…based on the appropriation, decontextualisation and subversion of pre-existent objects and everyday realities. 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 there 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.
Translated she appropriates commonly found items and places them in contexts that highlight and celebrates them. Breaking it down even further, she takes helicopters and puts peacock feathers on it and puts in Versailles…..
For several years, the foundation that oversees Versailles, invites contemporary artists to create installation pieces for the grounds that not only showcase the artist’s work but speaks to the past of the Palace. Vasconcelos created a variety of whimsical and simply amazing installations speaking to the excess of the royal court, using her approach of using appropriated objects and putting them in context…..
The installation is amazing – it is bold, beautiful and at times simply funny. Honestly, the crocheted lobster had my giggling long with the rest of the visitors. But upon inspection, you come to understand that crochet has a long history between France and Spain with the lobster representing the excess of food that was prevalent to the royal court when the rest of France and Spain was starving. It is this subtle story telling through the use of figure and materials that I loved.
Should you have the opportunity to visit Versailles, I recommend it if for nothing else but to see Joana Vasconcelos’s installation. As I fondly reminiscence about Paris, I am also battling a to do list that grows longer by the minute. I think it may be time to start planning that next vacation…..