Happier Than a Seagull with a French Fry

Priscila Fernandes
Residency dates: 1 June – 11 July, 2020
Open for public: 11 June – 11 July, 2020
Cinema: Priscila Fernandes, Portrait of an Artist

After almost three months of being closed to the public, Hotel Maria Kapel [HMK] re-opened its doors for the public with Happier Than a Seagull with a French Fry by artist Priscila Fernandes. With this residency we invited visitors to witness the creation of an impressive new work in Fernandes’ Labour Series, an ongoing reflection on the dichotomy between work and leisure. In times of an almost complete collapse of the boundaries between work private life, socialising and time to enjoy, Fernandes’ project offers a possibility to reflect on the connections between work, our bodies and the systems that connect them.

What is the connection between rollerblading and modernism? Or the link between paddle pools and capitalism? Between tanning and productivity? In her ongoing work Labour Series Priscila Fernandes humorously explores the relationships between leisure, work and abstract art. In a series of staged situations, the artist uses her body as a tool to create large scale photographs that build correlations between play, idleness, abstract art and hard work.

Without work, there would be no leisure. Indeed, the economy of leisure only came into being with the first paid holidays in the early 20th century. Campsites and resorts sprang up across the world and consumers were introduced to exciting new leisure items: inflatable plastic animals, swimwear and designer beach towels. Seaside holidays are the carrot at the end of a long work year and a tanned body the sign of a vacation well spent. Fernandes: “I’ve been interested in questions of how work rules our lives, as an individual and as an artist. I think the introduction of this culture of leisure into the fabric of our working lives created a new perceptual and sensorial experience.”

With Fernandes’ project Happier Than a Seagull With a French Fry, the artist covers the floors of the Maria Kapel with large sheets of coloured fabrics soaked in sun dye paint, transforming the centuries-old chapel into a large sunbathing studio. Fernandes will make use of UV lights and the sun’s heat to fade the fabric and make prints of her sunbathing body. The process was open to the public at several moments in June. A final composition of this new Labour Series work was presented at the finissage on July 11th.

Cinema: Priscila Fernandes, Portrait of an Artist
Alongside Priscila Fernandes’ residency, HMK screened an introduction film about her practice in the cinema (6:09 min.). The film was commissioned by CBK Rotterdam and is directed by Mirjam Somers and photographer Bas Czerwinski in collaboration with Nicole Sciarone.


25 June, 19:30-21.00: Art History School: Priscila Fernandes
Artist talk by Priscila Fernandes and an interactive lecture by Matisse Huiskens

30 June, 20.00: Priscila Fernandes & They Shoot Horses Don’t They?
in collaboration with Cinema of the Dam’d
Online movie programme with a Zoom-introduction and a Q&A with Priscila Fernandes

11 July: Finissage with a panel discussion and a presentation of the final work by Priscila Fernandes.

About the artist
Priscila Fernandes is a visual artist living and working in Rotterdam. Her work 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. Her work has been exhibited widely, among others at the São Paulo Biennial, Brazil; Museum Reina Sofia, Spain; Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland; Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid; Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Norway; and in the Netherlands at TENT, Rotterdam and  Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam.

Slow Burn
Priscila Fernandes’ residency is part of HMK’s 2020 programme Slow Burn, developed by curator Miriam Wistreich and artists Maja Bekan and Griet Menschaert. Through six chapters – Space, Navigation, Work, Endurance, Community and TimeSlow Burn brings together a range of voices to think about the politics of the artist residency and how we can navigate through the landscape of the art world with care. Fernandes’ residency will explore the notion of endurance, in artistic practice, in our work lives and institutions, and in the histories we give space to.

Photo’s: Priscila Fernandes, Happier than a Seagull with a French Fry, from her Labour Series, 2020 (in production)