[Teaser] Versailles, With A Twist

In my last post, I promised those of you that are still out there reading this blog that I would be back with my first "real" post for the year in about two weeks, and here I am now.

Few things make me happier than a steady connection to the internet, that doesn't come with ridiculous data charges (Vodacom, I want answers) and blocked websites. For that, I will always be grateful to Wits.

Back to the matter at hand: the promises I made about sharing the details of an overseas adventure. I've decided to do the posts in a series, because the details of those 9 days in December deserve more than one casual report-back. It will also be a little less tedious to read that way.

So, in the run-up to the first part of the series, I'm going to share with you an article about the palace of Versailles, and the artist who did her part to make this monument to the opulence of the monarchs of the 17th and 18th centuries more accessible to the contemporary crowds.

Joana Vasconcelos had the following in mind at the beginning of her exhibition of sculptures at the palace:

My work has developed around the idea that the world is an opera, and Versailles embodies the operatic and aesthetic ideal that inspires me. The works that I propose exist for this place. I see them as linked to Versailles in a timeless way. 
The Portuguese artist installed various sculptures, made from material varying from cast iron to stainless steel pots, to feathers and even wine bottles, inside the palace rooms and around its vast gardens.
As an ode to the accomplishments of the many women who lived in the palace, which are overshadowed by the glories of the kings who are hailed for the battles that they fought and won, Vasconcelos installed Marilyn in the palace's Hall of Mirrors:

The giant stainless steel statement pieces reflects off of the mirrors, and creates the feeling that the spirits of the women of Versailles are filling the palace with their presence.

To test the observer's ability to fit the stories and people of Versailles into the present time, and imagine how they would have lived their lives in the contemporary world, Vasconcelos installed Lilicoptere:
Through the "window" in the front, one is able to see an extravagant cockpit. One which, boasting interiors which bear Marie-Antoinette's monogram, as well as gilding and lush upholstery, is both "an anachronistic microcosmos and a time-machine that transports the Queen into contemporaneity".

Museum curators and art critics use a lot of complicated sentences and big words to describe artists' work, but all I want to know- in plain English- is who made the piece, what inspired them and what it could mean to ordinary observers.

For me, Vasconcelos' creative spin on the narratives of women of the past and the struggles and triumphs they have in common with the women of modern times, and the fact that she dared to display her work in one of the world's most famous houses, makes her exhibition something worth looking at.

Go and see Pavillon de The and Pavillon de Vin on the exhibition's official website. (Hint: these are decorations you need for a garden party unlike anything you've attended before.)


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