“It is not enough to see architecture; you must experience it. You must observe how it was designed for a special purpose and how it was attuned to the entire concept and rhythm of a specific era. You must dwell in the rooms, feel how they close about you, observe how you are naturally led from one to the other” Nika Neelova forms sculptural interventions that reflect on arrangements found within the everyday. Heavily influenced by overlooked or overused objects and spaces, Neelova responds to the architectural features that shape our presence on a daily basis.
There’s an ongoing investigation into object and material, being constantly motivated by environments that once lived. Fragments of a space are uplifted from the past and brought into the present as the objects are removed from their original setting and are reinvented in her new, minimal arrangements. Works adapt through a collection of thoughts, memories and experiences that are transformed into a physical language to suggest new meaning, pushing the viewer to see these ‘ordinary things’ in a new way.
In Losing Site: Architecture, Memory and Place, writer Shelley Hornstein discusses, “Our lives are modulated, mediated and moderated by the spaces of architectural configurations (walls, streets, pathways, corridors, roofs, and so on) yet we would be hard-pressed to remember precisely the dimensions or details of places we frequent. ” The world is made up of these forms, the objects we make that we surround ourselves with endlessly.
We start to consider how we position ourselves amongst these structures in day-to-day life and our nature of obliviousness towards them. The work ‘After You Left They Took it Apart’ makes me reflect on the stages and actions we experience when moving out of a home, considering how things are taken down, pulled to pieces, unscrewed, dismantled into smaller parts. From this they are either abandoned or transported into a new backdrop of life. Here, Neelova has taken a cast of reconstructed door parts; units are reassembled
Investigating this encouraged me to think about ‘Species of Spaces and Other Pieces’ by Georges Perec, particularly the way the writer speaks about the home and the processes we go through when moving from one space to another, objects and surfaces are translated into new habitats, things don’t always necessarily fit into place but we try find some purpose for them. An assemblage of found material forced into new, formal arrangements allows Neelova to question their purpose.
Concepts built around functionality become significant as she encourages the utilitarian features of an object to be taken over, “having outlived their functional purpose, the objects become the dysfunctional approximations of the structures they were once part of. ” Isolating her sculptures in a gallery space often creates a sense of homelessness, making us consider the features that remain fixed to an architectural space and those that have been removed, detached, collapsed from their habitual surroundings.
The works capture the essence of a location or environment yet a human presence seems almost anonymous, we grasp that humans constructed these things yet their presence doesn’t belong amongst the work. staging a fictional human disappearance from a human-created and human-dominated environment. With The Entire Earth Behind, a large section of parquet flooring has been extracted from a demolished house and cast in concrete, suspended in the space in proximity of ruin.
I was initially drawn to the imbalanced qualities of the flooring and how this challenges our natural perception of walking on a flat, uniform surface – something we often oversee and take for granted. Bricks and tiles pave our streets, wooden boards cover the floors in our homes and we forget how they became in the first place. Again Shelly Hornstein claims, “We wear the architecture of our everyday lives like a skin, with the expectation it will always be there to protect us and continue to provide the shell within which we become defined.
The work no longer performs as an architectural surface; it disobeys the smooth functioning of a civilized world, no longer belonging to anyone or anyplace. The artist encourages the viewer to delve deeper into the processes and narratives that go into these everyday things on a human level – the story behind the object, considering how it might have been made, how’s it placed, how it functions in day-to-day life through these laborious processes.
“I think every object, every place, every encounter contain their own intrinsic magic, and everything can be fascinating depending on one’s attitude towards it. Concrete, plaster, charcoal, wood, rubber and glass are reoccurring materials that make up her work; perishable matter that can transform over time whether it changes in colour, crumbles or decays. Neelova selects materials that have been abandoned or neglected, often found in demolished houses, skips, and architectural salvages, environments full of waste. Materials are scavenged from diverse situations as she claims that she can “end up in a remote demolition site, where I would be uprooting rotten floors and tearing out broken staircases.
I think it’s important to reflect on how the work takes from unexpected sources and how her concepts start to feed off each other in the making. The spontaneity behind the research and collection of resources is something that I’m drawn to, coming across this everyday ‘stuff’ and constantly be inspired by it, however mundane it might be to some. There’s a strong notion of repetition, a reoccurrence of forms will build up to make a bigger structure. Works are often abstracted, reproduced, replicated to provoke new meaning. There’s something so pleasing about things being organized, elements coming together that seem to fit, tessellate
Processes of deconstruction become evident, we view fragments of a space, a section. The materials tend to be in parts, broken and twisted yet they still manage to be assembled, interlocked, fixed together again. Seeing these units within the work urges me to question how the work fell apart or was deconstructed in the first place and how I would organize it myself. Casting is a process that the artist uses constantly; through this method she creates replicas of daily objects, translating them into a new medium and new reality.
The authentic qualities that develop in her work become apparent when the objects are shaped and moulded from scratch, performing the procces that was used to create these things in the first place, to recruit it’s structure and introduce it elsewhere. Sculptures are often replicas of daily objects. To replicate something is to translate it into another medium, to decode it and to recode it into its new reality, to perform the process that was used to shape it in the first place, to recruit its structure and introduce it elsewhere.
To replicate – comes from the Latin to fold back, the process becomes a way of folding back the surrounding into a new dimension. How artist uses space to present work, changing the context of the work. Taking the outside and brining into a white space Fragments of a door will be placed on flat on the gallery floor’s surface, changing the assosiations of the space Neelova takes fragments of architectural places that belong to a different time and place, carrying a story of a past life.
These spaces often belonged to her past; extracting material from an environment she’s had a certain experience with. The work becomes intimate and personal when there’s a response to her own dwellings, however these personal reinterpretations aren’t something that she makes apparent to the viewer. By investigating the history found on her objects, she then attaches her own history in the making, the work allows the viewer to consider how many years and processes have gone into the way these things function, a narrative develops on the material over time.
People can become familiar with the work and make their own connections, forming a personal history and collective history. Intoducing the work in a contemporary space • “Where architecture of a once occupied environment has merged with its surrounding nature dissolving the boundaries between the two. ” • Work made into the present, which causes distortion by being placed in the wrong time and by having her own interpretation of the material. • Occupying space, the spaces were once occupied by inhabitants, Georges Perec speaks about this in ‘Species of Spaces and other Pieces’