See Portuguese art I´m Your Mirror in Kunsthal Rotterdam

From Saturday 20 July, Kunsthal Rotterdam will present an impressive retrospective of the famous Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. ‘I’m Your Mirror’ shows over thirty of her iconic sculptures and installations from 1997 to today, including ‘Lilicoptère (2012)’, the gilded helicopter decorated with Swarovski crystals and ostrich feathers, which she made for her solo exhibition at the Castle in Versailles.

bronze and mirrors

Activist, feminist and with a deep-rooted respect for Portuguese culture and traditions, Vasconcelos gives his own twist to reality. The result is a seductive, humorous, effervescent and at times absurdist exhibition where nothing is as it seems.

Kunsthal is pleased to present this special exhibition, organized by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain, in collaboration with the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Portugal, for the first time in the Netherlands.

Joana Vasconcelos is known for her sharp sense of proportion, masterful use of color and special material choices, such as household items, wall tiles, textiles, medicines, urinals, telephones, pans and plastic cutlery. As a contemporary alchemist, she transforms everyday objects and clichés from the consumer society into works of art full of meaning and symbolism. Behind the apparent cheerfulness of her work are social and socio-political themes such as oppression, human rights, immigration, globalization, identity and gender issues. In his work, Vasconcelo explores different forms of identity – including women – and the divisions that can often be found in them. Directly and ironically, she reveals social contradictions and is inspired by a host of influences from her home country’s music, literature and traditional crafts. She acquires well-known Portuguese icons and gives them a twist, such as the heart-shaped jewel from Viana do Castelo and the series of ceramic animals by the Portuguese artist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, which she covers with crocheted textiles.

Combat goddesses

A showpiece is the 23 meter long ‘Material Girl (2015)’ from her ‘Valkyries’ series, named after the warrior goddesses from Norse mythology. Organic in shape and made of various textiles, traditional crochet and embroidery and LED lights, ‘Material Girl’ stands for women’s creative and combative spirit. To enable the production of her sometimes extraordinarily complex works – many of her sculptures and installations move, create sound or light – a team of sixty permanent artists assists in her studio in Lisbon.

The exhibition highlights works characteristic of her early period, including ‘Valium Bed (Cama Valium, 1999)’, ‘Burka (2002)’ and ‘The Bride (A Noiva, 2001-2005)’, a six meter high chandelier made of 14,000 tampons. Some of her most distinguished recent works are also on display, including ‘Marilyn (2011)’, a pair of towering stiletto heels composed of stainless steel pans and the steaming, almost dancing installation of steam iron ‘Full Steam Ahead’ (A Todo o Vapor, 2012) This combination of romantic beauty and hard machinery blurs the boundaries between traditionally masculine and feminine features.

I’ll Be Your Mirror (2018) is designed specifically for this exhibition; a Venetian mask of mirrors encased in bronze. Visitors can see through the giant mask from all sides, but never escape their own image reflected in the many mirrors. The title of this work – from which the title of the exhibition is also derived – comes from Lou Reed’s song ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ and a tribute to the famous German singer Nico from The Velvet Underground. She sang this song as a promise to reflect her ‘real self’, as a mirror. Also new is ‘Solitaire’, a monumental engagement ring made of whiskey glass and car rims. This will be set up in the square in front of the Kunsthallen.

Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos (1971) has caused a stir since 1997 with her impressive oeuvre, which is now recognized and known worldwide and has become one of Portugal’s most famous and beloved artists. Her big breakthrough came in 2005 at the Venice Biennale. Vasconcelos certainly sat on the map with ‘The Bride’, a six meter high chandelier made of tampons. This daring work marked her international breakthrough, resulting in exhibitions at several acclaimed European museums. In 2012, she was the first female and youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at the Palace of Versailles.

Kunsthal LIVE ON SUNDAY with Magda Mendes – Sunday 21 July 14 at

A Portuguese summer in and around Kunsthallen! After a successful and sunny edition in the summer of 2018, Kunsthallen again this year arranges Kunsthal LIVE ON SUNDAY In the opening weekend for ‘Joana Vasconcelos. I’m Your Mirror ‘is singer Magda Mendes, winner of Golden Nutcracker 2018, the main act of this free outdoor festival. Magda Mendes, born and raised in Lisbon, has lived in Rotterdam for ten years and has introduced many Rotterdammers to Fado from Lisbon in recent years. On Sunday 21 July, she will perform music from her new album Oliveiras, an ode to the Portuguese landscape. Mendes’ permanent band is amplified for this occasion by a wind quintet.

This summer outdoor festival in Museumsparken is made possible with support from BankGiro Loterij and takes place from Sunday 7 July to Sunday 11 August 2019 from 13:00 to 17:00.

Naked Tour – Saturday, September 28, 2019

After very positive experiences during the exhibition ‘Robert Mapplethorpe. A Perfectionist ‘and’ Hyperrealism Sculpture ‘, Kunsthallen once again offers a nude tour of the exhibition’ Joana Vasconcelos’. I am your mirror ‘. The reflective objects and themes of the works offer literal and figurative reflection. The nude tour is an added dimension for visitors who like to look at art together without clothes. More information about registration will follow at the beginning of July on Kunsthallen’s website.

Masterclass Joana Vasconcelos – autumn 2019

Kunsthal Rotterdam presents in collaboration with Willem de Kooning Academy a number of masterclasses – exclusively for students and Kunsthal Friends – by special artists. After inspiring masterclasses by photographer Peter Lindbergh, choreographer Conny Janssen, artist Melanie Bonajo, architect Rem Koolhaas, fashion artists Viktor & Rolf, artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde, photographer Stephan Vanfleteren and artist Rafaël Rozendaal, it’s autumn trip to artist Joana Vasconcelos. On the occasion of her exhibition, she gives a masterclass in the Art Gallery’s Auditorium.

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