Joana Vasconcelos (visual artist) and Helena Rosa and Fátima Mestre (weavers)

Mértola, July 30th 2022, 17h

Where Oficina de Tecelagem de Mértola
Free entry

This Constellation brings together the renowned visual artist Joana Vasconcelos, who has an in-depth practice in sculptures and textile installations, and the weavers of the Mértola Weaving Workshop, Helena Rosa and Fátima Mestre.

On the last Saturday of each month, the Constellations take place, sessions that bring together contemporary artists and representatives of traditional practices from Baixo Alentejo. The sessions address topics such as orality, physicality and visuality, in relation to the Alentejo. The guests do not know each other, there is no defined script, we do not know what can happen and it is this expectation that motivates us to build an unrepeatable session.

Born in 1971, Joana Vasconcelos is a visual artist with around 30 years of career, recognized for her monumental sculptures.

Inspired by both pop references and the opulence of the Baroque, Joana Vasconcelos' body of work brings together a huge variety of media and materials, ranging from drawing to video or textiles, in immersive sculptures and site-specific installations that dialogue with the architecture of the place and call for public interaction. Through a creative process based on the decontextualization of objects and the recreation of symbols, the Portuguese artist establishes a dialogue between the domestic environment and the public space, between popular tradition and high culture, between ancient know-how and the technology of modernity. . With humor and irony, she questions the status of women, consumer society and collective identity, offering new perspectives on reality.

International acclaim came in 2005 with A Noiva at the first Venice Biennale curated by women; where she was present seven times in total and would return in 2013 to the helm of Trafaria Praia, the first floating pavilion of the Bienal, representing Portugal. The youngest artist and only woman to date at the Palace of Versailles, her 2012 exhibition was the most visited in France in 50 years. In 2018, she became the first Portuguese artist to exhibit at the Guggenheim Bilbao, with one of the most affluent retrospectives in the museum's history, reaching fourth place in The Art Newspaper's Top 10 annual exhibitions.

Over the years, his work has been in major museums and galleries in the world, such as: Palazzo Grassi, The Thyssen-Bornemisza, Royal Academy of Arts, Manchester Art Gallery, CCBB de São Paulo, Istanbul Modern, Moscow's Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, La Monnaie Paris, Palais de Tokyo and Hermitage. Her art is present in major international collections, such as those by Calouste Gulbenkian, Berardo Collection, The Ömer Koç, Tia Collection and the François Pinault and Louis Vuitton foundations.

In total, more than 30 prizes were awarded to the artist. She won the Fundação EDP New Artists Award in 2000, was considered Personality of the Year by the Foreign Press Association in 2012 and received the Contemporary Art Award in Israel in 2013. Awarded with the degree of Commander of the Order of Infante D. Henrique by the Presidency of the Republic Portuguese in 2009, in 2022 he became an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.

In 2012, she created Fundação Joana Vasconcelos, with the aim of promoting art for everyone. In addition to managing its art collection, this institution regularly collaborates with other philanthropic entities to support social causes, through fundraising initiatives, as well as the creation of special editions. Every year it grants scholarships, in the context of the partnership developed with the University of Évora, in order to encourage the study of the arts.

One of the oldest traditional arts in the region is certainly the weaving of woolen blankets. At the Mértola Weaving Workshop, where ongoing training is provided, a weavers' cooperative is responsible for making this tradition survive. The decorative motifs of these blankets resemble an ornamental grammar affiliated with ancient Berber traditions and which we also find printed on archaeological materials.

In the space of the workshop itself, there is an exhibition of old instruments linked to the activity of wool and linen, as well as an exhibition of fabrics made in the workshop and in the mountain villages of the municipality.

Currently, at the Mértola Weaving Workshop, the sound of the loom is the result of the skilled and knowledgeable hands of the weavers Helena Rosa and Fátima Mestre.

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