Joana Vasconcelos: Big Booby #2

Time Machine, an exhibition of Portuguese artist’s Joana Vasconcelos’ work in sculpture. A re-interpretation of the found materials in our lives, from stuffed toys to religious iconography to recycled fabrics.  On at Manchester Art Gallery till 1st June. It costs £7.50 full price and £6 concessions, under 18’s get in for free. It was a really busy exhibition space, some of her works make you smile as your first reaction, unexpected in the art world. Here are some of the works with poetry based impressions.


Car set to self-destruct it’s world of pampered wall to wall nurture ripping apart from the outside in. Innocence has a short shelf life in our world even the toys know it. They cluster and clutch each other for reassurance, shapes as slumped as bodies unconscious sprawl careless. Slight twitching of battery engined bodies inside the safety of the closed windows and child lock doors. A penguin’s fluffy feet paddled the air, a monkey’s legs flail and swing in wide circular motions as the wheels sit empty of purpose outside the action of this claustrophobic backseat. A rabbit’s nose squeaks and snuffles at the petrol infused air. Giant Tiger lolls regally his mouth spread in a perpetual empty toothed grin.

A mother asks her child, why are the animals in the car? Because they are passengers.

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BIG BOOBY #2 2011

Giant alien’s egg squatting on the wall. Ready to hatch and cover the pristine glassed paintings with the green blood and goo of an icky sci-fi novel. Or perhaps rich streams of blood will come from the safely held net of fabric, it is suspended and holds tension so that you react to it like a bomb about to go off, but the danger is in yourself not in the object. It protrudes from the wall like an inverted trampoline, you want to bounce on it but hold your face inches from the mass, coloured as a target.

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FULL STEAM AHEAD 2012, 2013, 2014 

The name for this one in Portuguese: A todo o vapor

Three venus flytraps set to boil and snap, cake platters bearing poisoned gifts that will burn at your touch. They ballet grace dance with a three person tango, rising and falling like breath. A woman chuckles when the steam goes off, releasing some tension in her laugh deep rooted that now evaporates with the steam into the moist humid room. These flowers have many petals of plastic colours, the bees they attract are people with their questions and their unrooted feet circling strange nature.

”They’re not transformed, they’re de-contextualised” says Joana. “Their destiny is different. I think mine too in a way. It’s a self-portrait. The funny thing about this show is, I never know if I’m back or in the future. I’m between worlds.”

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Cinderella’s pumpkin swallowed by a bird and reborn as a helicopter, metal can have wings too would you deny a machine the heat and thrum of a wind through it’s feathers? Where are the glass slippers that feed the engine. Giant insect with one eye glaring set like a gem amidst the flounce and fluff of it’s trappings. Hostile and opaque it stares out the world, odd fish in the clouds. 

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Thanks for reading, I hope you get a chance to check the exhibition out.


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