For a Life Long Disease of Copper, 2021


Exhibition at Kunsthalle Lissabon

Photos © Bruno Lopes


Sprung from the artist’s own family history, For a Life Long Disease of Copper extrapolates the media of essay-film and sci-fi drama to both recount and fictionalize their 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 themselves. 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.


Asteroid Panels GFX: Daniel Pereira @ciberru


Diretora de Fotografia: Marta Simões

Captação de Som: Alexandre Franco

Música / Arranjo Sonoro: Odete

Assistente de Direção de Arte: João Abreu

Voice Over: Kino Sound Studio

Agradecimento especial a: Filomena da Conceição Reis Correia, Pedro Neves Marques, Marcelo Tavares, André Romão.