As conveyed in Raluca Popa’s thoughts and writings, her work crosses a diversity of expressions, from image to moving image, from written text to personal archive, from drawing to performance. Nevertheless, since these formal classifications may seem very classical on first sight, it needs to be stressed that Raluca Popa’s approach towards the medium always crosses its boundaries by reassembling the material in expressive forms to be sent anew into the public sphere. As much as she is concerned in the recognition and preservation of particular forms, Popa’s focus in her research is what it has to be done, what it is acceptable or not to do, and whether one has to favour models and similarities, or instead one must exercise a certain freedom, must remain an obstinate foreigner. Thus, one can sense a tension that the artist establishes within the formal aspect of the work, and by “anchoring” these forms in their conceptual standing points the tension gets more and more intensified. It stretches between Popa’s daily preoccupation with social agency and the impossibility of creating a work that becomes one with the thought. On one hand, this tension is the artist’s very direct “confession” about the potential that contemporary art might have in the real social and political space, while on the other hand, it can be seen as Popa’s tireless search for a reason to create.
Her first exhibition at Gaep can be read in two ways. In relation to the “specifics and demands” of the venue, How to Disappear defines the artist’s main formal and conceptual interests and acts as an introduction to a long-term collaboration with the gallery and its public. But more importantly, this exhibition is further evidence for Popa’s goal to reexamine the works in relation to the space and its context. It somehow seems that within Popa’s work it is not possible to avoid the given tension, either in the internal logic of the work or in the way this is presented when it becomes public. In this sense, the exhibition becomes a new form of her artistic expression which directly tackles the spatial specifics of the exhibition space and tries to avoid its usual narrative.
As a result of the artist’s urge to avoid exhibition rooms opening in various directions, her site-responsive intervention creates a passage that guides visitors in a single possible direction. Thus transformed, the main exhibition space on the upper floor juxtaposes two series of works on paper and a film, which might seem very distant at first glance, but a more careful reading reveals that they are connected by two actions: to (not) see and to (not) do.
How to Disappear continues in the chambers at the basement. In this moment we need to turn back to the beginning and refer to the exhibition as a form through which the artist directly tackles the spatial specifics of the space and tries to avoid its usual narrative. Popa’s main intervention in the basement is the reconfiguration of the space as an “echo” to the main exhibition space on the upper floor. Thus, she spatially connects both exhibition spaces, but makes a clear conceptual distinction. Works “inhabiting” the basement relate to Popa’s engagement with animation, which is an integral part of her artistic activity, while also representing what her real social, political and economic space is.
Text by Tevž Logar, curator