Critics’ Picks

Joana Vasconcelos, Luso Nike, 2006, industrial tiles, Nike sneakers, MDF, painted iron, 51 x 130 x 22".

Joana Vasconcelos, Luso Nike, 2006, industrial tiles, Nike sneakers, MDF, painted iron, 51 x 130 x 22".

Lisbon

Joana Vasconcelos

Museu Coleção Berardo
Praça do Império
March 1–May 18, 2010

The most striking works in “Netless,” Joana Vasconcelos’s first survey exhibition in Portugal, are her large-scale sculptures. These pieces occupy the central galleries of the Museu Berardo, as well as the lobby, the stairwell, and the institution’s exterior spaces. The show’s success is due to the skillful way Vasconcelos makes wry use of items from pop culture, religious traditions, and everyday life––including objects such as crochet hooks, hair dryers, stainless steel pots, ceramics, and wine bottles––to construct her works.

Luso Nike, 2006, for instance, is a three-dimensional reproduction of the Nike swoosh logo, covered in mass-produced tiles like those commonly seen on buildings in Portugal. Around the perimeter of the work, the artist has attached colorful examples of the shoes, seeming to suggest that those who purchase these brand-name sneakers do so as a mark of identity in the same way that the tiles stand for the distinctiveness of Portugal. Similarly, www.fatimashop, 2002, an installation that consists of a truck carrying figures of Our Lady of Fátima, shows how Vasconcelos plays with her country’s religious traditions. Here, she ironically refers to the religious pilgrimages and unbridled consumerism that have taken over the city of Fátima, which is now both a religious sanctuary and a marketplace. By highlighting the spectacular, Vasconcelos draws attention throughout her latest exhibition to the impact of pop culture in capitalist societies.

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.