L’étrangère presents Her Name is Prometheus, a solo exhibition of Yelena Popova’s latest work, developed during her residency at Art House in Wakefield earlier this year.
Popova was moved by the declining presence of sporting goods manufacture in the region and the story of Klaus Fuchs, a theoretical physicist (atomic spy) incarcerated in HMP Wakefield during the 1950’s.
Popova’s fascination in nuclear history and materiality informs her interest in the most deadly of man-made materials Plutonium, crucial for the development of atomic weapons. For the exhibition she created a gallery floor-game Townlets, a mobile, interactive, plastazote sculpture based on the molecular structure of Plutonium. An accompanying series of woodblock prints, inspired by ‘figures’ in the traditional Russian game Gorodki, suggest different balancing structures to build and knock down. Audiences are invited to play the game in the gallery space and document their own constructions on social media (hashtag #townlets). Townlets was recently taken to a swimming pool to become a floating, sculptural set for a propositional synchronized-swimming performance entitled Her Name is Prometheus . Together with Townlets the works explore non-competitive, collaborative and performative approaches to sport events.
Lise Meitner chair is a tribute to one of the most prominent women physicists who was unjustly excluded from the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Nuclear Fission, awarded in 1944 to her collaborator Otto Hahn. Meitner never intended her research to be used for military purposes and was firmly against the development of nuclear weapons.
Popova’s painting installation as always approaches balance formally and animates space for the viewer (performer?) to enter.
Yelena Popova (born in USSR) lives and works in Nottingham, where she has a studio at Primary. She studied at Moscow Art Theatre School (MHAT) before graduating from MA Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2011. Recent solo exhibitions include This Certifies That, Philipp von Rosen, Cologne (2017), Elements, Girton College, University of Cambridge (2017), After Image, Nottingham Contemporary (2016) and Unsensed, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle (2015). Her work has been acquired into the Arts Council Collection, RCA Collection, Saatchi Collection, Zabludowicz Collection and LWL Museum, Münster.
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