An unexpected delight during the soccer mania was the arrival on our shores of one of Portugal’s most influential artists, Joana Vasconcelos, together with the marvellous revolving Red Independent Heart, 2005, a site specific installation at Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.
Vasconcelos was brought to this country by the Portuguese Consulate General and Jozi Art: Lab as part of a Portuguese cultural programme to coincide with the football event.
Set to the music of the traditional Fado, Vasconcelos has exquisitely incorporated plastic cutlery In Red Independent Heart. The knives, forks and spoons symbolise the tradition of eating to celebrate cultural events. She meticulously makes use of the technique of filigree, once a much valued and delicate craft to make jewellery, as she fuses together the traditional heart shape often found in embroidery and other cultural items crafted by women.
Vasconcelos’ work provides a new perspective on the status of women, class consciousness and national identity. Many of her large scale works incorporate textiles, lace and other found objects. Much of her work revolves around preserving cultural traditions by painstakingly reconceptualising and recontextualising cultural symbols and traditions.