Joana Vasconcelos

I spent a fine day this week with a friend at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The current exhibition by Joana Vasconcelos memorably juxtaposes traditionally female crafts such as needlework and crochet with everyday objects often associated with domesticity and housework and sometimes with masculinity. The effect is always to unsettle concepts of gender.

Vasconcelos’ Purple Rain (seen on the right of this image) references Marcel Duchamp’s famed Urinal, covering this masculine object with crochet and wittily nodding to Prince.

The oversized silver stilettos formed from hundreds of stainless-steel saucepans reference Marilyn Monroe and femininity as constructed by Hollywood.

Call Center uses 168 rotary-dial telephones to represent an enlarged Beretta pistol, perhaps commenting ironically on the sociological view that that women appropriated a practical, supposedly masculine technology for distinctively feminine ends.

Most striking of all the installations is the 12-metre-long Valkyrie Marina Rinaldi. Suspended from the ceiling, this female figure from Norse mythology appears to advance, her tentacle limbs stretched across the gallery and enhanced by multicoloured woollen crochet, fabric and flamboyant embellishments.

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