Joana Vasconcelos Exhibition at the Palace of Versailles | SENATUS



Joana Vasconcelos Exhibition at the Palace of Versailles

26 June 2012

By Natalie White

From 19 June to 30 September 2012, the Palace of Versailles presents the exhibition Joana Vasconcelos Versailles in the State Apartments and the gardens.

Joana Vasconcelos is a Portuguese artist and the first woman and youngest to exhibit contemporary art in the French national monument. Invited by the President of the institution, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, and curator Jean-Francois Chougnete, the artist will show 17 works in which 8 these were designed especially for the occasion.

From Catherine Pégard President of the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles
Joana Vasconcelos will be representing contemporary art at Versailles this year. After the American Jeff Koons, the Japanese Takashi Murakami, and the French Xavier Veilhan and Bernar Venet, she will be the first woman and the youngest artist also to show her work in the setting of the absolute historical reference that is Versailles.

Joana Vasconcelos does not seek to fit into Versailles, but to incorporate Versailles, meet it rather than clash with it. Her work, made up of redirections, metamorphoses and displacements of objects, cuts across time and shifts the symbols: here the royal silk and brocade fabrics for the Valkyries, there wood marquetry for Perruque that recalls 18th century furniture… Inspired by the mythological and aesthetic force of the palace of Versailles, Joana Vasconcelos goes even further in her questioning of luxury and beauty by proposing new works specially designed for the palace. At the same time her programme is centred on the figure of the Woman, omnipresent in her approach, as she is in Versailles. Her aesthetic approach is both popular and sophisticated, a dialogue between past and present that forms part of history itself. 

Thus, the exhibition of Joana Vasconcelos is as much an ephemeral folly as a moment of history. She offers herself to the visitors of Versailles with her harmonies and her dissonances. And also her magic.

From Jean-François Chougnet Exhibition Curator
Joana Vasconcelos seeks to create a dialogue between culture and personal history. She plays with the concept of the beautiful object without slipping into Kitsch and without claiming Neo-Dadaism. To avoid these traps she uses a very effective weapon: humour. Critical, and sometimes even cynical, it enables her to give a clear and pleasing expression to her work.

The Grand Apartments will be the setting for the amused and ironic works of this artist, the first woman artist to be hosted by the Palace.

From Joana Vasconcelos
The Palace of Versailles is the place of art par excellence, where artists have always felt at home, displaying their work in it not as an exhibition space but as a setting totally imbued with art. It is a full, complete and rich place where it seems that nothing can be added.

It is the ideal setting for celebrating audacity, experimentation and freedom, where creative talent is appreciated like in no other place.

My work has developed around the idea that the world is an opera, and Versailles embodies the operatic and aesthetic ideal that inspires me. The works that I propose exist for this place. I see them as linked to Versailles in a timeless way.

When I stroll through the rooms of the Palace and its Gardens, I feel the energy of a setting that gravitates between reality and dreams, theeveryday and magic, the festive and the tragic. I can still hear the echo of the footsteps of Marie-Antoinette, and the music and festive ambiance of the stately rooms. 

How would the life of Versailles look if this exuberant and grandiose universe
was transferred to our period?

Interpreting the dense mythology of Versailles, transporting it into the contemporary world, and evoking the presence of the important female figures that have lived here, while drawing on my identity and my experience as a Portuguese woman born in France, will certainly be the most fascinating challenge of my career.

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