Priscila Fernandes (1981, Portugal) is a visual artist living and working in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Her practice is rooted in an ongoing research into education, play, and the dialectics of work and leisure. She works in a broad range of media, from video, installation, sound, sculpture, drawing, painting, photography and text. Priscila Fernandes studied at the National College of Art & Design (BA Fine Art Painting) in Dublin and at the Piet Zwart Institute (MA Fine Art) in Rotterdam. She was a resident artist at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, IAPSIS Stockholm and at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.
Her work has been exhibited widely. Recent exhibitions include Live Uncertainty - 32nd São Paulo Biennial with the installation Cuckoo Land and Other Futures; The Book of Aesthetic Education of the Modern School at Foundation Joan Miró, Barcelona; Back to the sandbox: Art and Radical Pedagogy, Reykjavik Art Museum; Playgrounds, Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid; PIGS, Artium Basque Museum; Learning for Life, Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo; 12 Contemporaries, Serralves Museum, Porto; Those bastards in caps come to have fun and relax by the seaside instead of continuing to work in the factory, at TENT, Rotterdam; and This is the time. This is the Record of the Time at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam.
Labour Series (2019)
Work has ruled our lives for centuries, and continues to do so today. It dominates everyday life from early childhood to adulthood. Our obsession with employability dictates the design of the toys we have and the education we provide. With the emergence of the gig economies, immaterial labour, round-the-clock work and precarity, we find ourselves at a moment of crisis. Our self-worth is weighed against how much we can produce, even though such production or over production threatens to destroy and intoxicate our environment.
It is time to start thinking of an alternative.
I’ve been greatly preoccupied with these questions, as an individual and as an artist. I’ve been looking at positive ways in which to engage with our current zeitgeist, ways in which to shift the focus of a society of labour towards a society of leisure.
However this brings a paradox. Leisure today is part of an ethics of work and serves to fulfill a desire to be productive, encouraging self-discipline and self-improving. But yet, countries in south Europe that greatly depend on tourism and leisure, are constantly pondered as lazy countries as a justification for their low economic growth. And if laziness and idleness are at times flattered as activities necessary for the development of art, poetry, literature and philosophical though, they are also said of promoting indolent, unproductive individuals, inert, lethargic and inactive. So how can we shift the way we think and look at leisure in a positive way?
With the introduction in the early 20th century of the first paid holidays, a new economy of leisure was born. Train companies offered discount tickets with significant reductions for the third class, youth hostels appear, campsites, spas and resorts. This allowed a growth of the consumer industry to fulfill such activities: beach accessories, tents, recreational toys such as roller-skates, artificial ski slopes, the suburban swimming pool, the personal trainer, open air cinemas, holiday packages, playgrounds and city parks.
It is my belief that the introduction of this culture of leisure into the fabric of our working lives created a new perceptional and sensorial experience. To test this out, I’ve started sketching a correlation between the developments of leisure activities in the 20th century with the different movements of Abstract Art. In these chronologies that I’m developing, interesting coincidences start to emerge, such as between the American invention of roller skates in the 60’s and Abstract Expressionism; or even the first inflatable swimming pools with the Anthropometries performances by Yves Klein.
Through these correlations, I’ve been setting up situations in which I can engage in some of the leisure activities in order to make large scale paintings, such as by roller-skating, swimming from pool to pool, relaxing on a hammock, or learning how to ski. These situations are then photographed and integrate the ongoing project entitled Labour Series.
Luisa's Wedding (2018)
These paintings were inspired by a friend’s wedding party and being together with friends – being in a situation where you share love. It is a celebration of free time, but also a moment of emancipation, of understanding there are other ways of being. A state of ecstasy, where you somehow transcend, lose gravity. The paintings are made with encaustic, pigments that are dissolved in heated wax. The technique gives the paintings a translucent quality, so the figures seem to bathe – almost dissolve – in light and bright colours.
GOZOLÂNDIA E OUTROS FUTUROS [Cuckoo-land and Other Futures]
(2016 / 2019)
Leisure can be like a mirror that reflects the way we are expected to perform in professional working environments but also in many aspects of our daily lives. If we look at leisure, we see how much of it is part of an ethics of work and serves to fulfill a desire to be productive, and how many leisure activities are promoting self-discipline and self-improvement. But what if we counter this logic by considering laziness and idleness as subversive acts, as forms of resistance?
Free To Do Whatever (2018)
What do artists do when they want time off? Going to the museum is part of work. Reading a book most likely sparks some thoughts reflecting on one’s own practice. Going to the art fair does too. So as, Jerry Seinfeld said: “Doing nothing is not as easy as it looks. You have to be careful. Because the idea of doing anything, which as you know easily could lead to something, would cut into the nothing; and then forces me to have to drop everything.”
Vincent van Velsen - FULL TEXT
Those bastards in caps come to have fun and relax by the seaside instead of continuing to work in the factory (2015)
Those bastards in caps come to have fun and relax by the seaside instead of continuing to work in the factory looks at the emergence of paid holidays and the oeuvre of the neo-impressionists. It relates the implication of tourism and free time with the utopian vision of the French artists, who used landscape painting and pointilism as a tool to depict a society of leisure and harmony.
The photo-prints result from painting and perforating directly into photo negative after exposing them to light. They refer to paintings by Paul Signac, Georges Seurat and Henri-Edmond Cross, interpreting the effect of light and colour of each representation.
The tile of this project is taken from a french newspaper arcticle defaming the approval of the first paid holidays for workers in June 1936.
Getting a grip series
Whats Love Got To Do With, (2019/20)
Encaustic on paper, custom made beeswax frames