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For the 55th Venice Biennale, Joana Vasconcelos created a floating pavilion in the form of a typical Lisbon ferry boat. The work's title was Trafari Praia, it addressed the historical relationship between Portugal and Italy, which evolved through trade, diplomacy, and art. The exterior of the boat was covered with panels of tin-glazed, blue and white, hand-painted ceramic tiles, called ‘azulejos’, which depicted a contemporary view of Lisbon’s skyline.
“They are blue and white tiles that make up a drawing of the city today. There’s an old factory that still produces them the same way it did before, hand-painted, very traditional. I like their texture and tactile quality.” — Joana Vasconcelos
The work takes its inspiration from another large-scale panel of azulejos, ‘The Great Panorama of Lisbon’, which depicts the city before the legendary earthquake of 1755 and is a quintessential expression of the golden age, when the baroque-style azulejos were produced in Portugal. This edition is a cutout of this beautiful scene which depicts the Tower of Belém and parts of the historic city.