Philipp von Rosen

Yelena Popova

06 Sep - 08 Nov 2014

Exhibition view
YELENA POPOVA
A World To Gain
6 September - 8 November 2014

We are proud to present the exhibition A World to Gain by the British-Russian ar­­tist Yelena Popova – a premiere in Cologne on the occasion of DC Open. A new series of paintings and video work unfold Popova’s continuous interest in 'visibility', as well as mate­riality and the value of art objects. The works in the show interrelate to provide a complex network of asso­ciations and references that negotiate the physical, economical and political articulations of pain­ting today. In the introductory video Line Painting Popova addresses the matter of painting as an act of la­bor. A short video loop presents an anonymous worker applying a thick layer of yellow paint to a road surface in London. At some point a well-dressed woman enters a cab parked at the curb, whilst stepping over the freshly painted lines she ignores the worker completely, as if he is invisible. Koh-I-Noor is the title of the second introductory video installed at the gallery en­trance, it is also the name of a famous Indian diamond. Since the mid 19th Century the Koh-I-Noor diamond has belonged to the British Crown Jewels, but India is still asking for it to be re­turned. The eternally spinning, shimmering diamond in the video resembles a rotating ad­ver­tising sign of a capitalist enterprise seeming to offer the promise of everlasting value and beauty. The video fable About 5 Minutes Remaining tells the story of time sweepers, an ima­gi­nary group of workers who clean up 'wasted time' to recycle and redistribute it. Here, time itself becomes a commodity and the difference between cognitive and physical labor, pro­duc­tion and the circulation of goods between East and West is addressed. Just as the ro­ta­ting diamond from the last scene of the fable is mirrored in the Koh-I-Noor video, the problem of exploitative, economic relations is mirrored by the troubled colonial history of the Indian dia­mond.These videos create a wider context for Popova’s paintings to be seen in. Dwelling on the dif­fe­rence between creative workers (called by the latest Marxist theoreticians cognitariat) and wor­kers that use their hands, Popova examines the production of surplus value and how this can be defined, particularly in a time of digitalization. As the famous conclusion to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto proclaims: "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to gain. Working men of all countries, unite!"Popova's 'invisible' paintings withdraw a fundamental condition of painting itself: the appli­ca­tion of a colorful medium to a surface. This newly proposed disembodied form of painting can be compared to the physical absence of digital images. 'Invisibility' is used as a formal device to capture the attention of an audience exhausted by image overload in contemporary culture. The viewer is required to slow down and make an effort to recognize the abstract curvy forms floating on the surface. A totally different sight to that which a London resident sees when glancing at the minimalist yellow road markings made by an anonymous street worker.
We are proud to present the exhibition A World to Gain by the British-Russian ar­­tist Yelena Popova – a premiere in Cologne on the occasion of DC Open. A new series of paintings and video work unfold Popova’s continuous interest in 'visibility', as well as mate­riality and the value of art objects. The works in the show interrelate to provide a complex network of asso­ciations and references that negotiate the physical, economical and political articulations of pain­ting today.
In the introductory video Line Painting Popova addresses the matter of painting as an act of la­bor. A short video loop presents an anonymous worker applying a thick layer of yellow paint to a road surface in London. At some point a well-dressed woman enters a cab parked at the curb, whilst stepping over the freshly painted lines she ignores the worker completely, as if he is invisible. Koh-I-Noor is the title of the second introductory video installed at the gallery en­trance, it is also the name of a famous Indian diamond. Since the mid 19th Century the Koh-I-Noor diamond has belonged to the British Crown Jewels, but India is still asking for it to be re­turned. The eternally spinning, shimmering diamond in the video resembles a rotating ad­ver­tising sign of a capitalist enterprise seeming to offer the promise of everlasting value and beauty. The video fable About 5 Minutes Remaining tells the story of time sweepers, an ima­gi­nary group of workers who clean up 'wasted time' to recycle and redistribute it. Here, time itself becomes a commodity and the difference between cognitive and physical labor, pro­duc­tion and the circulation of goods between East and West is addressed. Just as the ro­ta­ting diamond from the last scene of the fable is mirrored in the Koh-I-Noor video, the problem of exploitative, economic relations is mirrored by the troubled colonial history of the Indian dia­mond.
These videos create a wider context for Popova’s paintings to be seen in. Dwelling on the dif­fe­rence between creative workers (called by the latest Marxist theoreticians cognitariat) and wor­kers that use their hands, Popova examines the production of surplus value and how this can be defined, particularly in a time of digitalization. As the famous conclusion to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto proclaims: "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to gain. Working men of all countries, unite!"
Popova's 'invisible' paintings withdraw a fundamental condition of painting itself: the appli­ca­tion of a colorful medium to a surface. This newly proposed disembodied form of painting can be compared to the physical absence of digital images. 'Invisibility' is used as a formal device to capture the attention of an audience exhausted by image overload in contemporary culture. The viewer is required to slow down and make an effort to recognize the abstract curvy forms floating on the surface. A totally different sight to that which a London resident sees when glancing at the minimalist yellow road markings made by an anonymous street worker.
 

Tags: Yelena Popova, RECYCLE, Yelena