FAD Q&A: Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos Courtesy-Christopher-Morris
Joana Vasconcelos Courtesy Christopher Morris

1.How long has it taken to put together this exhibition?
From our first visit to Manchester Art Galley until the opening, it took around one year and a half.

2.Why the name ‘Time Machine’?
Time Machine has to do with time-travel – be it a travel to the past or to the future. Manchester Art Gallery collection’s works are from the past, but they still make sense to us today. Thus, why not talk to them and interact with them?
With this exhibition I decided to create a dialogue between the past and the future. I’m not doing anything new, but instead continuing the work that was started many centuries ago. We evolve through the existence of others, and seeing us together makes sense. The new thing we have done with Time Machine is to open the doors to discussion, bringing a new life to the collection and creating a new dynamic. Curiously, I never know if I’m going back or going forward in time – I’m between worlds. Moreover, the theme of recycling and renewal is a common thread running through this show.

3.You are showing new work and old, are you surprised and excited by revisiting your older work?
Most of the works are new or relatively recent but yes, I am quite happy to be showing some works which haven’t been exhibited for a while and to find how timeless they continue to be. I believe there are woks which if I hadn’t conceived and realized earlier, they would emerge later on. Moreover, these older works also gain new readings in this exhibition. Space is an important and essential part of my work, and here both work and space achieve new nuances. The works receive extra signification through their presence in Manchester Art Gallery’s spaces, and the same goes for the effect these works have over the spaces they inhabit.

4.Did you enjoy working with Manchester Art Gallery as a space to show your work?
It was lovely to explore Manchester Art Gallery’s collections and spaces, especially to see how my own contemporary artworks communicate with the Romantic, Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite pieces (among others), as well as with the city’s very own history. The liaison between Manchester and Britain’s history and traditions and those of other provenances, like my homeland, made this exhibition one of my most challenging and ambitious until today. I must also highlight the trust and enthusiasm of the Director, Maria Balshaw as well as the curator Natasha Howes and the remarkable professionalism and commitment of Manchester Art Gallery’s staff, which made the experience all the more wonderful.

5.Your show is on until June will you revisit the show to see it in early summer?
I would certainly love to and I really hope that my overbooked diary allows it!

6.Finally can you tell us about your new work Britannia?
Britannia is part of my Valkyries series, which I initiated in 2004. These works are inspired on those female characters of Norse mythology, in charge of shaping the destiny of men and selecting the bravest and most valiant warriors killed in battle, that overflew the battlefields riding on winged horses. I have been developing this series in a manner in which each work reports to a different universe. In Brittania’s case, I was very much inspired by Manchester’s history, the cloth and textiles that are very common in Portugal. We live from cotton and manufacturing just as Manchester used to, and I wanted to express that connection by using fabrics from around the world, to find a way of connecting Manchester and Lisbon, and Britain and Portugal. More, this piece also feminises the cold, steely, masculine space of the atrium with its array of colors, glitter, beads and flowers.

Time Machine is at Manchester Art Gallery until June 1st More Details:www.manchestergalleriestimemachine.org

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper' AofC - Issue 1 Autumn 2018

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