O Feijoeiro is the materialisation of the magic beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk (and it’s no coincidence that my own name is João, and that the piece was made for a biennale), where Jack exchanges his family’s most precious possession, a cow, for a fistful of magic beans. These allow him access to another world, a different reality. Then he enters this new world and gets rich from the chicken that lays golden eggs. He’s stolen that chicken from the giant that rules this other world to which the beanstalk’s led him. In truth, wealth and happiness are only attained after he’s killed the giant and destroyed the link between the two worlds, the real and the magical. João Pedro Vale’s plant is presented in just such a state, having lost its verticality. We don’t know whether the bean plant has fulfilled its task of leading someone to some other place. But the obsessive way in which it’s been constructed, the way it extends through the space and still attempts to grow upwards, leave open the idea of an unattained goal or an unrealised dream.
Director of the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado
[Translator’s note: lost in translation is the fact that, in the Portuguese translation, the protagonist of Jack and the Beanstalk shares the artist’s name, João.]