Grainy street images layered with harsh strokes of black ink. Blurry faces with superimposed features of the same dark, haphazard color. Pages of text hacked by different ink-absorbent, get-at-able objects. Artist and architectural student Yulia Nemova reinvents the black stroke as a kind of counter-imperative, a readily available hack that commands attention away from the conventional images lying underneath. In Them Girls and Monkeyball, Nemova explains that these two collections were inspired by streetwalkers, b-boy music and objects-within-reach. Accordingly, she worked with torn-up pages from an architectural magazine, black markers, a clean tampon for wide strokes, and ear sticks for thinner lines.
Nemova takes mundane images of individuals, streets and written language and creates new identities by hijacking them, DIY guerrilla style. The result is not unlike the movement of walking strangers and street dancers: by paying close attention, what appear to be irregular, careless lines transform themselves into markers of momentum, speed, strength, and calculated control. Several images are swallowed by the shapes of human figures, often female bodies, in abstract but expressive positions. On other images, she writes bold words that seem to shake in place: “TODAY IS THE DAY FOR B: BUTTHEAD, BUMMER, BONER.”
In doing so, Nemova imputes the conventional backdrops with different voices, smells and sounds. “SWEATIN’” says one of the women, accompanied by two arrows leading to dark stains under her armpits. “FUNKY” says another. It’s the sort of irreverence that demands respect for the scratch, for the interruption, and for the honesty of improvisation.
By Maria Eugenia Pabón, Bluestockings Managing Editor Spring 2014