There are artists whose work lives in a very narrow limbo between their personal lives, their small (or large) obsessions, irony about this radically non-transmittable condition of the artistic work and the sinuous nature of the career they carry out.
Ana Jotta is precisely one of these artists.
Over the years the diversity of her work has run through the memories of modern and contemporary art, paradoxically seeking the possible magic of the artistic gesture along the very narrow paths of her personal taste, of her idiosyncrasies and biting irony, a poetics of the error, of the mistake and of laziness.
In an interview towards the end of his life Marcel Duchamp stated “There are three types of taste: good taste, bad taste and indifferent taste. I’m for indifferent taste.” Ana Jotta’s course sometimes seems to be a work of irony about this (in itself ironic) theory of “indifferent taste”.
Jotas (c. 1985-2005) by Ana JottaCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos
Models of the letter ‘J’ in different materials
© DMF, Lisboa
The work Jotas is exemplary of the fissure on which rests the mechanism of meaning that Jotta defines, which is very close to that of one of her favourite artists, Marcel Broodthaers. The sculpture (or set of sculptures, or three-dimensional drawings) is a heteroclite group of forms that are very close to the letter “J”. The presence of each of these elements in the space is quite diverse: some are large, others are small, some are clearly handcrafted and others are found objects which only a search for similitude could have made turn up somewhere.
On each one the signature is multiplied, but a signature without style, or made childishly like someone looking for it in the simplest attempt at identity. Style has always been one of the most fertile fields for Ana Jotta’s exercise in rejection. It should be said: style as a soughtout mark, in which one foresees a lively work of chisel and burin. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t an enormous egothic breath in the repetition of Js from Jotta which emerges in her career since she adopted a graphic sign in the eighties, which, as a brand, bore all the variations of procedures that she mobilised as art within one complex identity.
Solitaire universel (1994) by Pedro Casqueiro and Ana JottaCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos
Ana Jotta and Pedro Casqueiro
Solitaire universel, 1994
Audiotape boxes, Dymo strip, wooden shelve and glass
63 x 122 x 11 cm
© DMF, Lisboa
Thus, Ana Jotta’s work is a periplus through the countless possibilities of her chosen wanderings and affinities, in a gallery in which those who pontificate are Duchamp and Beckett, Broodthaers and Georges Perec, Joseph Cornell and Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant, who would invent his master’s lovers.
Jotta, however, is closer to Casanova, because she is one who herself creates the inventories of her loves, of the crossings that she carries out from the appropriations she makes: of works of art, objects, images, texts, concepts, precepts and affections.
So this self-portrait in J’s is just an apparent self-portrait, in the sense that it does not aspire to be more so than any other work that Ana Jotta has presented since the beginning of her course, in 1986.
The Ant Song (1994) by Ana JottaCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos
The Ant Song, 1994
Embroidery on cotton cloth
100 x 85 cm
© Laura Castro Caldas / Paulo Cintra
Ana Jotta was born in 1946 in Lisbon, where she lives and works. She studied for one year at the Escola Superior de Belas-Artes de Lisboa, then left for Brussels, where she attended the École des Arts Visuels et d’Architecture de l’Abbaye de la Cambre between 1965 and 1968. On returning to Lisbon she collaborated on several theatre and cinema experiments. She has regularly exhibited since the nineteen eighties. Her first solo exhibition was at the Galeria EMI – Valentim de Carvalho in 1985. Rua Ana Jotta was the title of her first retrospective, presented at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, in 2005. She is represented in the collections of the Centro de Arte Moderna – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento and Fundação EDP, in Lisbon, as well as in the Fundação de Serralves, Oporto, and in ARCO, Madrid.
Rua Ana Jotta (cat.), Porto, Fundação de Serralves, 2005.
Nicolau, Ricardo, Jotta dossier, Porto, Braço de Ferro, 2009.
© Delfim Sardo, 2009
Biography / Bibliography
© Mariana Viterbo Brandão, 2009
© David Alan Prescott, 2009
Story production (Collection Caixa Geral de Depósitos)
Lúcia Marques (coordinator)
Hugo Dinis (production assistant)