Nika Neelova makes sculptural installations out of reclaimed architectural features and burnt timber. Disassociated from their original use and re-composed in her new arrangements, these old beams, casts and worn ropes exude their own original energy as well as their heritage. They have become something other than what they were, while retaining a feeling of oneiric repetition – claiming a life of their own and a new purpose, but still clawing onto a past one.
Principles of Surrender is constructed out of six burnt wood posts which, with its slight cantilevers, support beams and mortise and tenon joints, resembles age-old vernacular architecture. Tied to the platform created by these posts are huge bell clappers which the artist has cast in wax infused with ash, creating an enormous congregation of bell pulls.
But there is no bell to ring, because this structure is not a bell tower. Yet both of these images, and what they can connote, hover around as poetic associations within the same space. Similarly, Scaffolds Today, Monuments Tomorrow distressingly reads both like a seaside pier and a platform used to hang people.
Neelova’s works stand as odd, transparent altars to their elements’ origins, made up of elements that have survived despite being charred. They open up the distorted manner in which the past is read by the present, and what she refers to as “the historical memory that is embedded in materials.”
Text by Lupe Nùñez-Fernández