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Contemporary Art Takes Over Versailles

Sunday Aug 12, 2012
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PARIS, France - From now through September 30, 2012, the Palace of Versailles presents the exhibition Joana Vasconcelos Versailles in the State Apartments and the gardens, creating incredible juxtapositions between the classic opulence of the palace and bold contemporary works of art.

Of the incredible artwork on display, a gigantic pair of high-heeled shoes made of glimmering stainless steel pots and lids sits in the historical Hall of Mirrors, and an immense creature-like figure made of textiles, found objects and fabrics welcomes visitors at the Gabriel Staircase.

Vibrant splashes of color adorn the walls, huge wrought iron objects stand in the garden, and an enormous structure made of 4,000 illuminated Pommery "pop" champagne bottles sits in the garden’s pond.

"My work has developed around the idea that the world is an opera, and Versailles embodies the operatic and aesthetic ideal that inspires me," Vasconcelos says of her work.


"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, the everyday and magic, the festive and the tragic."

Vasconcelos continues, "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," says Vasconcelos.

Vasconcelos was born in Paris in 1971. She lives and works in Lisbon. The nature of Joana Vasconcelos’ creative process 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.

LINK: Joana Vasconcelos Versailles

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This article is part of our "Summer 2012" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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