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Joana Vasconcelos: From Cutlery to Coração
by Regina Frank

There is a place even more exotic than the Museo do Oriente in Alcântara do Mar (Alcântara of the Sea), on the waterfront near central Lisbon, Portugal. It is the Unidade Infinita (Infinite Unit), the art studio of Joana Vasconcelos on the Tagus River immediately behind the museum. Inside the vast factory halls, huge red crates wait to be shipped, Bordalo Pinheiro’s ceramic animals line up to be embroidered, and, on shelves, plastic boxes filled with several centuries of crochet and embroidery sorted by color and shape wait to be “recycled” into new artworks. One pictures Vermeer’s lace-maker sitting here for an eternity, but it’s a bit less romantic.

Pots and pans, tampons, plastic cutlery in different colors, old, tattered handmade lace, quilted swatches, ceramics, and all kinds of materials from the old-fashioned women’s tailor are part of Vasconcelos’s palette.

Contaminação (Contamination), 2008
Hand-knitted and hand-crocheted wool, industrial acrylic, fabric, ornaments,
polystyrene, ployester, and steel cables, installation view at the Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo.


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