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The Life that Comes From the Trees
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Talk with Ilan Ashkenazi, Padre Francisco Mota and Undine Whande.
maat exhibition Joana Vasconcelos contemporary art
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maat exhibition Joana Vasconcelos contemporary art
Image Credit
Installation view of "Plug-in" by Joana Vasconcelos, MAAT, 2023. Photo: Bruno Lopes
04/12/2023 - 04/12/2023

In different cultures and schools of thought, trees hold meaning and symbolise the connection between the sky, the earth and the underworld. Other meanings refer to evolution and regeneration as well as the cycles of life. In this talk, Ilan Ashkenazi, Padre Francisco Mota and Undine Whande explore the different perspectives on trees in the light of the Kabbalah, Christianity and Ancestry.


Joana Vasconcelos’ commitment to health, wellbeing and healing spirituality is the reason why this series of lectures takes place. Árvore da Vida [Tree of Life] was one of Fausta Rendall’s choices to bridge art and healing.


Árvore da Vida (2023)

Faced with the challenge to dialogue with Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture at Vila Borghese, Joana Vasconcelos envisioned the tree into which the mythological figure of Daphne morphs when, escaping from Apollo’s lustful advances, decides to transform into a laurel. A gesture of self-determination and overcoming that found parallel when – because her studio was forced to close due to the 2019 pandemic – the artist asked the craftspeople she works with to create leaves while working from home. 140,000 in total, all embroidered by hand using different motifs, such as Viana do Castelo’s “canutilho”, were attached to the 354 branches forming a monumental tree over 13 metres high.

A site-specific creation for the Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes in Paris, carried out in collaboration with the Center des Monuments Nationaux to celebrate the Crossed Season Portugal-France 2022 and curated by Jean-François Chougnet, the “Tree of life” reinforces the verticality of the link between earth and heaven, worldly and spiritual. Now adapted to maat’s space, it establishes a dialogue with the specificities of the museum’s architecture. Combining crafts and electricity, it encapsulates perfectly the “art and technology” concept.



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