artists & participants
Nadja Athanassowa's work takes the issue of work itself as its starting point and how our selves are built in relation to those who employ us or act as our beneficiaries. From March 2005 till October 2009 she has collected and exhibited the free journal AK FÜR SIE (Arbeiter Kammer) a magazine dedicated to employment issues. Rather than take an ideological position Athanassowa attempts to present the material fact of the journal's reality by demanding that it be known that she is willing to store what is normally discarded after use. For the past couple of years Athanassowa has transformed her apartment into her work by methodically collecting and throwing her things away. At one point she found her house completely empty and instead of refilling it built up a second level to create even more floor space because she found her 3 meter ceilings to be wasteful. When I visited Athanassowa last, her walls where covered in rugs upon which she had attached advertisements for credit card offers and newspaper clippings which she had carefully folded into three dimensional forms. In the middle of the kitchen floor she was keeping the coal ash from her furnace in clear plastic bags. In an exhibition at WUK Kunsthalle she used these bags simultaneously as pedestals for her paper forms; and as what they were, bags of ash. For this exhibition Athanassowa removed and sold her furnace and used the material which functioned as the base as the key element. The furnace which is not in the exhibition was sold through Willhaben.at its value assured by its functionality unlike the base or pedestal, made of fire clay, which lost its function with the removal of the furnace. By exhibiting these left over pieces of fire clay and painting some of them in the style of an inverse frottage Athanassowa has reinscribed a value onto these chunks of debris which stress their conflicted status as both nothing and something. The other elements in the exhibition have taken a similar route towards their commodification. The pink painting was in its previous incarnation an advertisement for Yves Saint Laurent's Opium which had been transformed into a pinboard by the employees of a cosmetic store for their shop window. Twice removed from its original function the painting has travelled the spectrum of aesthetic use from advertisement to functional background display and finally to the suspicious realm of conceptual painting. Athanassowa's work struggles to address the forms that immateriality must take to be read and to always reiterate the labor involved in making this legible.
The Emerging Artist Series by Will Benedict