October 7, 2013 - Portugal Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - Publication and closing event
October 7, 2013

Publication and closing event

Joana Vasconcelos, Trafaria Praia, 2013. The Trafaria Praia ferryboat sailing in the Venice lagoon. Photo: Luís Vasconcelos. © Unidade Infinita Projectos.

Joana Vasconcelos
Trafaria Praia
1 June–24 November 

55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia

Portuguese Pavilion
Riva dei Partigiani/Laguna di Venezia
Hours: Daily 10-18h (except Mondays)


For Portugal’s participation in the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, Joana Vasconcelos is presenting Trafaria Praia, a project in which the Trafaria Praia, a Lisbon ferryboat, is transformed into a floating pavilion and artwork. Trafaria Praia is curated by Miguel Amado and commissioned by the Secretário de Estado da Cultura and the Direção-Geral das Artes, Governo de Portugal.

Public programs’s closing event
The closing event of the Trafaria Praia‘s public programs takes place on October 12, from 15h onwards. “From Luigi Nono to the 21st Century: An Infinity of Possibilities” is a lecture by Nuria Schoenberg-Nono and Jonas Runa that examines a synchronous historicity of the aesthetics of electronic music. A concert by Runa follows this talk. Runa created a piece for the Robot Orchestra of Ghent’s Logos Foundation, invented by Godfried-Willem Raes. It explores automation, the condition by which a machine replaces a human being in carrying through a given task. Here, the aim is not simply to substitute a robot for a musician, but to have a machine do what is humanly impossible (for example, play more instruments or more notes simultaneously) in order to develop a new audio-related experience. The piece was made with the assistance of Kristof Lauwers and Moniek Darge, the director of the Logos Foundation, and supported by the Government of Flanders.

The catalogue of the Trafaria Praia project is now available through Dilecta, the publisher, in selected bookshops, and at the ship’s store. It brings together photographs that document the project from the research stage to the public unveiling, as well as essays that examine the intellectual references that inform it. Contributors include Miguel Amado and the Portuguese scholars Onésimo Teotónio de Almeida, Francisco Bethencourt, Rosário Salema de Carvalho, Luís Miguel Correia, Carlos Fortuna, and Raquel Henriques da Silva.

Trafaria Praia
The project considers two fundamental aspects Lisbon and Venice share: the vessels that arrive and depart from them, both today and in the past, and an urban landscape along a waterfront. Vasconcelos constructs an allegorical correspondence between the iconic Lisbon ferryboat, the cacilheiro, and the picturesque Venetian vaporetto. She brought to Venice a cacilheiro, the Trafaria Praia, which is moored next to the Giardini’s vaporetto stop, and sails around the Venice lagoon at regular intervals daily.

On the outside of the ship, Vasconcelos applied a large-scale panel of Portuguese tiles, known as azulejos, hand-painted in blue and white, that reproduces Lisbon’s contemporary skyline. The piece is inspired by another large-scale panel of azulejos, the Great Panorama of Lisbon, which depicts the city before the earthquake of 1755. This piece is a quintessential expression of the golden age of tile production in Portugal in the early 1700s.

On the ship’s deck, Vasconcelos created an installation of blue-and-white textiles and fairy lights.The piece is a complex medley of fabrics all over the ceiling and walls from which organic forms emerge in various sizes and shapes. These units are made of small bits of cloth sewn together and intertwined with strings of blinking LEDs. The piece establishes a fantastic, almost mystic, psychologically engaging environment that evokes the deep ocean—a sort of threshold to a magical universe straight out the Bible story of Jonah and the Whale.

During the preview week, the quarterdeck of the ship hosted a series of public programs. These included roundtables that addressed topics related to the Portuguese cultural field and a cycle of concerts featuring different musical genres. Speakers and musicians included Carlos Fortuna, Paulo Cunha e Silva, Jonas Runa with the Cosmic Ensemble and the Quarteto Arabesco with Pedro Jóia, among others.

About Joana Vasconcelos
Joana Vasconcelos (born in 1971) is a commentator on the real. She investigates the present through a critical reading of Western mythologies and iconographies. She explores mainstream values, habits, and customs in order to examine identity with respect to gender, class, and nationality. She appropriates familiar objects and images and re-elaborates them, often calling upon artisanal techniques and employing craft-related materials. She reflects on the tensions between high and popular culture, the private and public spheres, the local and the global, tradition and modernity.

Vasconcelos has upcoming solo exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel, and Manchester Art Gallery, England. She has had recent solo shows at the New Art Gallery Walsall, England; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo; Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon; and Château de Versailles, France. Key group exhibitions include the 51st International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia and theFrac Île-de-France/Le Plateau, Paris; Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture, Moscow; and Palazzo Grassi/François Pinault Foundation, Venice.

About Miguel Amado
Miguel Amado (born in 1973) has recently been a curator at Tate St Ives, England, and is a critic for Artforum. He has had key curatorial fellowships and residencies at Rhizome at the New Museum, Abrons Arts Center, Independent Curators International, and the International Studio & Curatorial Program, all in New York. He has also guest curated exhibitions and projects for institutions such as the Museu Coleção Berardo in Lisbon, apexart in New York, and Frieze Projects at the Frieze Art Fair in London. He is a graduate of the MA program in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art in London. He is a board member of IKT.

Mónica Oliveira: moliveira [​at​] dgartes.pt / T +351 211507100
Aviva Obst: press2 [​at​] joanavasconcelos.com / T +351 218075779

Portugal Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Share - Publication and closing event
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York