Atelier Real Lisbon

In the second half of August I was in Lisbon where I met the American artist Victoria DeBlassie at Atelier Real where she spent all of August in residence for a study on her artistic research.

In her study I noticed the presence of very different materials than her production better known as the giant installations created by the tanning of orange peels. No trace of these “vegetable skins” but only wood and glass.

The work done at Lisbon will be collected in the exhibition Miradouro das caixas de madeira that be held at Bar Irreal – Atelier Real.

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In your studio I see new materials such as wood and glass. These materials are different than what you usually work with.

When I participate in artist residencies, I usually work with different materials in general because I love going to new cities and being inspired by the city and the materials that I find there. The one thing that the wooden crates have in common with my former work is that I am still using material that is normally thrown away. All of the wooden crates and all of the wood I am using in the show that I collected were found in the trash. The only thing I bought was the glass.

What new projects are you working on?

I have always had a fascination with these crates and I have been starting to incorporate them into my fruit peel work. It makes since because the crates are the things that store the fruit and vegetables! However, I will never abandon the fruit peel work, I just like to work with other materials every once in a while! For this residency I am going to be using the wood in a architectural way that is also quite abstract and references a landscape. For my other work, I made “binoculars” that the viewer can use to look at the architectural landscape of wood used from wooden crates- but I don’t want to say to much- it has to be a surprise!

What has influenced you during your residency in Lisbon?

Last year I did an artist residency in Porto at De Liceiras and I traveled to Lisbon and spent 2 days here and I really wanted  to come back. I am inspired by the architecture and the art of Portugal in general and I love to walk around Lisbon and see all of the tile work on the buildings. I think in general it is important for artist to travel and see and experience new cities. Lisbon attracted me because I am interested in its culture and history and the fact that not so long ago, Portugal was ruled under the dictator Salazar, and now they are a republic but they are still facing many political and economic challenges. However, I think that maybe as a result of all of this struggle, there is a very big creative resurgence happening in Lisbon that is inspiring and I wanted to be a part of that creativity. I think that having this time to work on my art here at the Atelier Real has helped me to continue to challenge myself to take risks.

Your art work produced in Portugal will be collected in a show, what is the concept of your work?

Miradouro das caixas de madeira explores uncharted territory never before seen by humanity at the Bar Irreal. What were once simple little wooden crates that gave so much warmth, comfort, and support to so many small but delicious fruits and vegetables in transit and in the market now give way to new terrain. Onlookers are invited to explore this new environment by utilizing provided “binoculars” that enhance, magnify, distort, and abstract both the concept and the physical place itself of the miradouro.

When broken down etymologically, miradouro becomes “mira d’ouro” and in English can be read as a command instructing one to “look at gold.” A miradouro, then, is like a finger pointing in a certain direction, saying “Look!” “Look at gold” in this installation isn’t of course literal nor is it just about looking at the warm golden hue that emanates from the wood, but instead it’s also about reflecting on the value and the nature of perspective—for example, what is gold in this context and how is and was that codified?—in every sense of the word. With these thoughts in mind, the artist encourages the viewer to ponder such questions as, ‘in a world that cross-culturally favors visual aesthetics and the primacy of the visual, what is worth our vision?,’ ‘what do we deem to be valuable?,’ ‘what are we supposed to be looking at and seeing?’, and ‘just who decides where our perspective(s) should be focused, and why?’

Lisbona, 19 agosto 2015 – Ilaria Buselli