Andrea V Wright, Evy Jokhova & Nika Neelova: Prevent This Tragedy

As much as humanity attempts to control social structures and tame natural elements, the looming cycle of decay and rebirth is a stark and inevitable truth, hard to escape. Human tragedy seems to demand a sudden sadness, contrasting to the nonchalant contempt we display for discarded and forgotten objects. Former possessions, meet an unfortunate fate laying in landfill, slowly breaking down and sinking back into the Earth. An unsettling notion that human desire to build indestructible matter, means there are materials that will undoubtedly outlive our own species on this planet.

Curated by Martin Mayorga and Vanessa Murrell, ’Prevent This Tragedy,’ presents works from nine artists based on personal perspectives towards ‘Tragedy.’ With many of the artworks site specific, the industrial warehouse setting of Post Institute, provides a fitting back drop for the destructive nature of the mediums on display. A trace of nostalgia lingers in the air, as viewers are confronted with the parallel deterioration and longevity materiality presents.

 

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Andrea V Wright, Laplace, 2018. Latex, neon light, steel, pigment, paint, tape and found object. Dimensions variable. Photography by Corey Bartle Sanderson © DATEAGLE ART 2018

 

Working with abstract, linear forms and illusionary space, artist Andrea V Wright builds transient perspective through the merging of natural and man made materials.

Andrea, I really admire how your work explores multiple disciplines, how would you define your aesthetic?

The materials I use and the methods I employ have a very physical nature and my aesthetic is generally dictated by their interweaving and fabrication. I am drawn to utilising a hybrid of both formal and indexical language, drawing on the legacy of modernist sculpture, textiles, and architecture. I very much appropriate objects and references from my prior experience in fashion and fashion styling into the assemblages of my work, it’s very much about combining elements, such as, order and chaos, control and lack of control, seen and unseen. Aesthetic is vital in my work as is content, there has to be a juncture at where they both meet.

Can you talk us through your piece and its relationship to the setting?

Whilst I had already had a plan for the work and made a smaller scale piece in my studio, the idea was further developed during an initial visit to Post_Institute, Von Goetz Art, with curators Martin Mayorga and Vanessa Murrell. It’s very much site-specific, this ex-industrial warehouse drew me into the architectural heritage of such sites from its construction to the utilitarian strip lighting and exposed steel beams. I very much wanted to reflect the materiality of the space with the main element of the pigmented latex. By casting this particular wall, with its accreted layers accumulated through the years, and then peeling the latex away, almost “cleaning” the wall, and leaving a ‘ghost’ imprint, while taking the surface and presenting it to the space. The steel structure acts as a support while echoing the steel girders. The neon up-lights the fleshy latex surface, revealing unseen textures and the subtle nuances of the building’s fabric. The work is held together by the architectural context and by the materials used.

 

Boundary_Prevent_This_Tragedy_2 Boundary_Prevent_This_Tragedy_3Andrea V Wright, Laplace, 2018. Latex, neon light, steel, pigment, paint, tape and found object. Dimensions variable. Photography by Corey Bartle Sanderson © DATEAGLE ART 2018 01

 

You talk about creating impossible plains, do you enjoy creating spaces that don’t necessarily exist in the physical sense?

When speaking of impossible planes, I am also speaking of transformation and temporality. For example, in other works I will create geometric structures and light them using an external light source. The shadows produced from this process extend the forms into temporal, impossible planes and spaces. In relation to ‘LaPlace’ (2018), the solid brick wall has been traced and imprinted on the solidified latex fabric, giving an illusion of the wall being impossibly malleable by allowing it to drape.

I felt like your piece was an invitation to another dimension; do you like portraying the notion of there being another layer to your work then just the visible?

I definitely felt the presence of history and time whilst making this piece. The erosion of the wall, the green algae growing in the corner, the rusted nails, all had to be taken into consideration – I had to think how I would undercut these features so that the latex would peel well. It’s a risk, as you never know what you are going to get, as so little is visible till the end,  it disappears during the making.

A Laplace Transform is a mathematical description of the process that a system performs over time. Throughout the process of installation, the layering of the material upon the wall mimicked the rhythm of the brick structure itself and I became part of the system. Whilst on the scaffold during the work I thought, “Who built these walls and has anyone been in such intimate contact with this surface but me since then?”. There’s an element to creating to the work that is labour intensive and repetitive – my movements shadowing what has gone before. I almost felt that as I was painting, I was tracing their imprint as much as the wall’s. Perhaps that is where the other dimension lies – in the disappearing of time.

 

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Evy Jokhova, Sisypha, 2017. Timber, polystyrene, plaster, concrete, acrylic polymer, filler, paint, stone effect, MDF, wheels, strap with hooks.190 x 80 x 80 cm. Photography by Corey Bartle Sanderson © DATEAGLE ART 2018

 

Multi-disciplinary artist and visual storyteller Evy Jokhova, uses sculpture and performance to explore themes of philosophy and social anthropology.

Evy, Your work deals with our emotional attachment to materials, is the way its strapped down and presented a direct comment at our historical obsession with claiming and displaying found objects?

Yes, in a way it is rather a direct comment on this. It is also simultaneously a reference to wanting to take our own culture and heritage with us everywhere, the strap is a way of staying attached to it, as well as claiming political and territorial trophies from, metaphorically speaking, conquered lands, and bringing those back home with us. The British Museum is a good example of this. Further, the strap also has an element of foolery to it. The first time the work was shown, I asked the gallerist to take the rock out for a walk down the high street on a daily basis. Here the strap played a more literal role of looking like a functional strap to anchor the stone to the crate base.

You also touch on the ongoing need for human ownership over natural elements, can you tell us in brief detail of the Greek tale that influenced this idea?

The Greek myth that inspired the piece is the tale of Sisyphus.

Sisyphus was the deceitful and greedy king of Ephyra, who cheated death, violated the Greeks laws of xenia, and took great pleasure in killing. He was sentenced to pushing a rock up a steep hill for all eternity. Each time he reached the top of the hill, the rock slipped out of his hands and tumbled to the ground, and so he started the climb again.

His tale lends itself now to describing futile, laborious, and seemingly endless tasks as Sisyphean. The French author Albert Camus also took inspiration from this myth, and his rendition of the story is of great importance to me. In the ‘Myth of Sisyphus’, Camus imagined Sisyphus as embracing his situation and undertaking the task without any remorse, almost joyfully without consideration for the past or future – the task of pushing the rock and having the potential to succeed each time was all that mattered. In Camus’ vision there is a refusal of surrender. My work attempts to echo this, looking at human nature, and the notion of history repeating itself.

 

Boundary_Prevent_This_Tragedy_5 Boundary_Prevent_This_Tragedy_6Evy Jokhova, Sisypha, 2017. Timber, polystyrene, plaster, concrete, acrylic polymer, filler, paint, stone effect, MDF, wheels, strap with hooks.190 x 80 x 80 cm. Photography by Corey Bartle Sanderson © DATEAGLE ART 2018

 

When the piece is moved for performance, is there a relevance of having a female galleries taking control?

Yes, the Greek tale of a Sisyphus the King – a sort of anti-hero. I wanted to show a different take on the concept of futile and endless labour, a labour that is part of everyday life and often goes unnoticed. The work of the woman as well as the long history of human migration, and building up communities. Looking not at economic progress but at social aspects, what labour holds and binds communities. A female protagonist here is much more relevant.

The idea of emotional shifting is really interesting and you speak about how galleries take on the baggage of artists, does the routine movement of ‘Sisypha’ translate our need to continually reposition and offload feelings onto other people and places?

Yes, and not only feelings. Also culture, values, ideology. The source of eternal historical conflict. Also, the way we read and judge things often only from our own viewpoint, rarely trying to look at things through the eyes (or the socio-historical context) of someone else. This is mostly relevant to the Western perspective in my experience. There is also a playful element to the work, a certain absurdity and poetry – the contemporary artist struggling for storage space, passing on they work to the gallery, in turn the gallery becoming burdened by multiple artists’ work, that they then take around and show.

 

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Nika Neelova, Lithic, 2017. Recycled upholstery foam from discarded furniture soaked in jesmonite and marble dusts. 360 x 300 cm. Photography by Corey Bartle Sanderson © DATEAGLE ART 2018

 

Working with reclaimed and repurposed materials, artist Nika Neelova studies the powerful memories objects hold, aware of the fragility and history embedded in found matter.

Nika, You work with a lot of reclaimed objects, what attracts you to the materials you use?

I am interested in working with materials and objects that have been exposed to other histories, that have thereby preserved the memories of now absent human bodies, and that have had a previous existence, a purpose, a significance, and have now become obsolete. I am often using the remains of buildings and landscapes, fragments of architectures in order to imagine their hypothetical futures and future failures. I am interested in working with the notion of the ruin – as the site of simultaneous accord and conflict between culture and nature, where objects are liberated from their forms and meanings.

Do you try to convey a certain narrative throughout your work, or do you feel the materials often present their own identities and stories to influence you?

I am currently interested in the intermeshing of the human and natural, and the juxtaposition of solid stratigraphy to the fluidity of material flows. Throughout history, humans have imitated nature to advance civilisation to new stages of development, to the point of nature becoming the result of human activity. This activity has created a new additional layer on the surface of the planet – the meeting point of earth and humanity, perpetually displacing one another. In a way, I am trying to recreate a ‘human artificial geology’ combining natural formations with processes of mass consumption. It is also a reference to the history of making – with the first tools having been fashioned from stones and these invented ‘last artifacts’ calcifying back into synthetic rocks, being at the same time prehistoric and post-apocalyptic.

 

Boundary_Prevent_This_Tragedy_9 Boundary_Prevent_This_Tragedy_8Nika Neelova, Lithic, 2017. Recycled upholstery foam from discarded furniture soaked in jesmonite and marble dusts. 360 x 300 cm. Photography by Corey Bartle Sanderson © DATEAGLE ART 2018

 

The sculpture holds a really powerful presence, what was the basis for your idea?

The sculpture is made from upholstery foam from recycled furniture soaked in jesmonite and marble dusts, tracing the transition of a piece, initially made based on human proportions, into an abstract geological formation. Suspending the creases made by human weight in a permanent static state, ‘lithic’ is an attempt at creating artificial rocks out of the relics of our lived environment, suggesting the possibility of continuity between the human body, furniture, architecture and the geology of earth. Resulting from the material processes involved in performing artificial geological acts of sedimentation, it recreates an object in ruin – where furniture and architecture of a once occupied environment have merged with their surrounding nature. It is present as a modified ruin of human existence, tracing the alternative evolution and ageing of architectural and urban materiality.

I felt like your use of foam was really interesting, because this is essentially a material that appears to be malleable but is essentially indestructible, do you enjoy working with this juxtaposition of fragility and strength?

Yes, I think that juxtaposition is very important for my work. It is often a play on materials and their appearances and objects and their function. Functional objects and structures are rendered obsolete, and materials known for their structural strength obtain new fragile qualities. Also, I am interested in the continuity of materials, imagining their alternative ageing processes. In this case upholstery foam, rather than ending up in landfills, is reimagined as incorporating itself harmoniously into the geological layers of the planet.

There is also definitely an apocalyptic reference and a sense of ‘decay’ about the works, as they seem to be shown after a certain amount of time has elapsed since someone last interacted with them. They become the artificial ruins of an unidentified environment that seem to belong to a different ‘place’

A display of ghost-like relics from the past, the works featured in, ‘Prevent This Tragedy,’ present poignant aesthetic matter, unconsciously bound with historical narrative. Announcing the question, do we really give definitive meaning to material, or does it continue to gather layered context, further into the future than we could ever anticipate?

 

‘Prevent This Tragedy,’ is showing at Post_Institute, until 14th November.