Alice dos Reis / For a Life Long Disease of Copper
30 June - 4 September 2021
R. José Sobral Cid 9E
Photography by Bruno Lopes
Kunsthalle Lissabon presents For a Life Long Disease of Copper a solo show of the artist Alice dos Reis.
Sprung from her own family history, Alice dos Reis’s exhibition extrapolates the media of essay-film and sci-fi drama to both recount and fictionalize her grandmother’s life story as a worker at a pharmaceutical factory in Lisbon during the 1960s and 1970s where, among other pharmaceuticals, she fabricated the company’s first birth control pill. For the works in the exhibition, Alice dos Reis undertook archival research into the development of hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptives throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, intertwined with their grandmother’s personal testimony, trying to investigate the complicated relationships between birth control, gender, class, extractivism, and technoscience.
For a Life Long Disease of Copper is a fictional interview with the artist’s grandmother, played by a digitally aged version of the artist herself. Occupying very entangled personal, biographical, historical and political positions, dos Reis asks (and answers) some questions about their grandmother’s life as a pharmaceutical factory worker. Poems, archival images, and filters weave together, giving birth to a new sci-fi scenario paved by ano dois, ano dez, ano duzentos, a series of large-scale images of outer space in which asteroids and gravitating copper IUDs meet, speaking to a speculative reality where space-extracted copper is used to fabricate contraceptives. A work uniform from the time dos Reis’s grandmother worked at the pharmaceutical is framed in yellow plexiglass, the color of the substance Alice’s grandmother developed an allergy from, that later led to “a life long disease”.
Through the use of sci-fi imaginary, the artist re-interprets her family history projecting the story both in a near future and a recognizable past, laying the foundations for a transversal reading of the entire research.