Despite protests of the conservative France against the trend of exhibiting contemporary art in the royal apartments and legendary gardens of the Palace of Versailles, the administration of this institution is consistently moving on with the project launched a couple of years ago as an attempt to break the stereotype of the conservative nature of Versailles.
Once a year, the visitors of the palace are invited to enjoy a dialogue between contemporary art and the opulent decor. A few years ago no-one would have dreamt that Versailles could become a temporary backdrop for the giant 'toys' by Jeff Koons or the images of Takashi Murakami, two of the super stars of contemporary art. Today, their Versailles shows are already history, and it is the passionate Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos who is posing in the Mirror Hall in a whirl of black cloak and whose gigantic shoes - her Marilyn installation - are displayed here, in what is generally considered the most magnificent and impressive room in the whole of palace. The artist cites the idea of opera as the conceptual pivot for the exhibition, attempting to draw analogies between the opera and the world and emphasising the fact that the Palace of Versailles is an embodiment of the aesthetic ideals that inspire her. According to Vasconcelo, she senses the mystical energy of this world as she wanders in the resplendent halls and gardens. The artist says it is like standing on a threshold between a dream and reality, the mundane and the magical. The rooms still echo with the footsteps of Marie Antoinette, music and grand festivities.
Born in 1971 in Paris, Joana Vasconcelos currently lives and works in Lisbon. She views her Versailles exhibition as one of the greatest challenges of her career to date.
Keywords: Versailles, exhibition