Athena Papadopoulos at Emalin

Artist: Athena Papadopoulos

Exhibition title: The Smurfette

Venue: Emalin, London, UK

Date: April 28 – June 3, 2017

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Emalin

Utilizing a list of cosmetic, medicinal, and edible ingredients, Athena Papadopoulos typically stains layers of cotton bedsheets with red wine, lipstick, hair dyes, Pepto Bismol, and self-tanner. Connoting the practice of self-augmentation – of ‘dolling oneself up’ – these intense hues draw attention to how such commodified materials are marketed towards certain consumer archetypes. These archetypes then appear in drawings and photographs of women layered into dense collages: Papadopoulos chemically transfers, cuts, and stitches her own photographs into and alongside imagery gleaned from literature, art history, and popular culture.

By flattening these biographical images against a variety of cultural ones, they become materially homogenized. The compositional gesture assumes posture. Papadopoulos’ action of sampling and recombining images therefore becomes a way of thinking about the construction of femininity. Within this, autobiography functions as a point of departure for thinking through the patriarchal power structures underpinning both the visual experiences and social relations performed by Papadopoulos’ characters. As such, the artist’s sculptures and paintings function as saturated explorations of the constructed nature of subjectivity that reimagines the limits of autobiography through complex materiality.

Like loose pages torn from a journal, the ‘paintings’ on view are encrusted with lascivious catcalls, terms of endearment, drunken pejorative slurs, and teenage slang. Resin letters draped across the sculptures spell out double entendres and innuendos: TAPPED, BATTERED, BRUISED, SPIT OUT. Onomatopoeia assumes materiality throughout. This body of work refocuses our attention: if previous assemblages reveal how quotidian materials are implicated in a particular type of socialization, here the focus shifts to language’s culpability in these constructions.

Athena Papadopoulos was born in Toronto, CA in 1988 and lives and works in London. She completed her MFA at Goldsmiths, London in 2013. Recent exhibitions include Belladonna‘s Muse, curated by Samuel Leuenberger, CURA Basement Roma (Rome, IT, 2017); Wolf Whistles, Shoot the Lobster NY (NYC, USA, 2017); Streams of Warm Impermanence, David Roberts Art Foundation (London, UK, 2016); Wild Style, Peres Projects (Berlin, DE, 2016); Bloody Life, Herald St., London, UK, 2016).

Athena Papadopoulos, The Smurfette, 2017, installation view, Emalin, London

Athena Papadopoulos, The Smurfette, 2017, installation view, Emalin, London

Athena Papadopoulos, Dough-Eyed Foxxx, 2017, image transfers, Pepto Bismol, red wine, hair dye, nail polish, foundation, bleach and glue on fabric, thread and picture hooks, 158 x 177 cm

Athena Papadopoulos, Smurfette, CHEWED UP; Beasts in Heat; Smurfette, TAPPED, all 2017

Athena Papadopoulos, The Smurfette, 2017, installation view, Emalin, London

Athena Papadopoulos, Smurfette, TAPPED, (detail), 2017

Athena Papadopoulos, The Smurfette, 2017, installation view, Emalin, London

Athena Papadopoulos, Smurfette, CHEWED UP, (detail), 2017

Athena Papadopoulos, Smurfette, BATTERED, 2017; Rabid Minxxx, 2017

Athena Papadopoulos, Smurfette, BATTERED, (detail), 2017

Athena Papadopoulos, The Smurfette, 2017, installation view, Emalin, London

Athena Papadopoulos, The Smurfette, 2017, installation view, Emalin, London

Athena Papadopoulos, Smurfette, SPIT OUT, (detail), 2017

Athena Papadopoulos, Hen; Bird; Chick, 2017

Athena Papadopoulos, Bird, (detail), 2017

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