New solo exhibition !!!!
Joanna Latka – Storyboards
by Rob Plews
Being a foreigner in a new land, you might pick up on subtlety that would otherwise go widely unnoticed. Knowing Joanna Latka, she stores up these nuances in her mind to engrave later on – from the close-ups of cobbled street scenes where she invites you eavesdrop on gossip, to the expanse of the countryside turned beautifully bleak by the intricacy and loneliness imagined from towering pylons. I've known Joanna pretty much since the beginning of her chapter in Lisbon, in
which she is a prolific chronicler of her protagonists who inhabit a darker and dirtier world. The kind tourists want to take photos of in hope of capturing authenticity. But authenticity is not going to be depicted in some romantic snapshot of a passing yellow rickety tram, just as any Portuguese person will tell you – 'saudades' is not a word you can translate.
Here, the roots of tradition are too firmly fixed to be dug up, so branches twist and buckle in search for the sun which is eclipsed by urban concrete, factories, poverty, religion and soap operas.
To me, Joanna's images question the absurdities of what is called 'tradition' and how it is to live in such a society. Tradition is collective and does not permit personal identity. It frowns on those who have a voice. Before the revolution in Portugal in 1974, women could only travel with the permission of their husbands. Now widowed, they have no teeth and wear black. But in Joanna's
world, there is a girl in a red dress. Red like the carnations that became the very symbol of revolution.
Now I am wondering if that girl is, in fact, Joanna. It never occurred to me why there was a woman in a red dress pushing a pram in the city. Perhaps at the time Joanna was watching and imagining how she would be as a mother. Joanna's women are bold, and this is this side of her I like most. They have this incredible strength to endure what 'tradition' has imposed on them, and some even manage to break the shackles. Let this be a warning to you. Those who do not stand up and fight will end up old and bitter, cackling over cauldrons and talking badly about others.
I love Joanna's frumpy back-biting biddies that pop up from time to time, like a revisiting from the witches in Macbeth. These hags with vengeful eyes drag their tartan wheeliebags over the cobbles in one hand, and in the other hand – not a magic wand, but a cigarette. The woman in the red dress is shunned and not welcomed. But I wonder, is all this bitterness the secretive envy of the dress? Jealousy of her.
There are women who work in a fish factory. Do they dream of more glamorous lives? Are they happy with their lot? They feast with no table manners and their greedy gobbling is almost comical, yet now they are starting to wear make-up and getting their hair done. Who knows, maybe if you unlocked their wardrobes you might come across a brand new red dress still wrapped up in plastic, waiting for that special occasion. Something revolutionary.
Auditorio Municipal Augusto Cabrita, 14.06 - 25.10.2015