October 19, 2023
From a towering solitaire diamond ring made of wheels to a sprawling, embellished textile tree, Joana Vasconcelos (previously) is known for creating monumental sculptures and public artworks that reframe familiar objects and materials into striking installations. Plug-in, a new retrospective at MAAT—the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology—in Lisbon, explores nearly three decades of the Portuguese artist’s comprehensive oeuvre.light
Focusing on an undercurrent of electricity and power, Plug-in brings together new pieces in dialogue with earlier works. For example, two sculptures reimagine vintage cars: “Drag Race,” an ebulliently baroque Porsche, sports gilded woodwork that nods to track racing, self-expression, and pop-culture phenomena like RuPaul’s Drag Race. “War Games,” on the other hand, is encased in toy rifles in an antagonistic tug-o-war between play and violence. Red LED lights switch on and off continuously, and “the interior is filled with hundreds of stuffed toys that wiggle noisily, clamouring for attention and space,” says a statement.
Vasconcelos often incorporates textiles into her works, working with beads, brocade, fringe, and a wide variety of fabrics. The lavish “Valkyrie Octopus,” part of the artist’s expansive Valkyries series, is shown for the first time in Europe since it was originally unveiled in Macau. Illuminated with tiny lights, the inflatable form coated in patterns looms across the entire width of the room. Plug-in invites visitors into a multi-sensory experience in which flashing lights and shiny surfaces question how we define luxury and power.
The exhibition continues in Lisbon through March 31, 2024. And if you’re in Florence, you can also visit Vasconcelos’ Between Sky and Heart at the Uffizi through January 14. See more on the artist’s website and Instagram.
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You’ll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!