After a global pandemic and a few technical setbacks, Joana Vasconcelos’ “Tree of Life” is unveiled at the Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes, King’s Charles V grandiose chapel built to host the relics of the Passion of Christ in the 14th century.
Joana, who was initially commissioned to make a work for the Villa Borghese in Rome, took her cues from Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne (1622–1625) to draft her tree.
When the pandemic hit, the project was shelved but her team continued to knit, crochet and weave for hours over zoom while the world outside came to a halt.
It was a cathartic experience,Joana says
We were all creating together, experiencing joy and pain while trying to make sense of what was going onshe adds.
Curated by Jean-François Chougnet in collaboration with the Centre des monuments nationaux, the site-specific work now towers at 13 meters high and is made of over 140,000 hand-made embroidered textile leaves.
If it was initially thought as an homage to women’s strength – in the myth, Daphne wished to be turned into a tree rather than fall under the salacious hands of Apollo chasing her – the piece has taken on a new meaning in the outskirts of Paris.
Today, the majestic laurel tree faces stained-glass windows depicting the Apocalypse, delivering a message of hope.
These windows depict the past and chaos we all had to go through. My work was made with the help of hundreds of people. It is a celebration of craftsmanship, resilience, and ultimately, the power of life itselfconcludes Joana.