MOCA Toronto is Temporarily Closed for Exhibition Changeover

Athena Papadopoulos

The New Alphabet

February 24, 2023
— April 30, 2023

For her first institutional solo exhibition in Canada, MOCA Toronto has commissioned Greek/Canadian artist Athena Papadopoulos to create a site-specific exhibition of large-scale sculptural works, generated in response to MOCA’s columned space and the local context it inhabits.

In the past, Papadopoulos has been known to create richly dense sculptural works that play on stereotypical feminine signs. Built up of layers of material excess juxtaposed with personal imagery and drawings that are “tattooed” onto fabric skins. Her sculptures can be likened to abstract sculptural manifestation of a misidentification with notions of contemporary femininity.

For this exhibition, Papadopoulos has produced two distinct sculptural bodies of work that have been shaped by the isolating experience of the last two years and an ever-present concern that these artworks may never be seen. Installed to resemble an archaeological museum display, Bones for Time takes disused hospital and wool blankets to literally trace aspects of the artist’s body in shapes of letters, resulting in a variety of alphabetically orchestrated, ossified sculptural bodies. In Trees with No Sound each work is composed from Papadopoulos’ unwanted furniture, clothing, and stuffed objects, transforming relics into sculptural bodies whose titles suggest references to art history and literature, as well as biblical and religious stories.

In addition to using everything from her clothing to cushions, plush toys, chains, wigs, and textiles, Papadopoulos draws from a list of cosmetic and medicinal ingredients, applying items like self-tanner, lipstick, and hair dye to colour her works. What materializes are melodramatic characters that sit uncomfortably on the edge of the glamourous and the grotesque, high and low culture, not unlike the heroines of history. With each fold, tuck, wrap, and twist, Papadopulos’ meticulously composed, sleazy, and sacrilegious productions overturn fixed notions of the lived human experience.

Papadopoulos’ project will share Floor 3 with an intervention by the collaborative practice of Susan For Susan.

About the Artist

Athena Papadopoulos was born in Toronto and currently lives and works in the UK. She has exhibited extensively across Europe with solo exhibitions at MOSTYN, Wales; Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon; CURA Basement, Rome; and Shoot the Lobster, NYC. Participation in group exhibitions has been numerous, most recently her works have been presented at spaces including the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Los Angeles and Museo Madre, Naples. Past group exhibitions include Drawing Room, London; David Roberts Art Foundation; London and Herald St., London; as well as at Peres Projects, Berlin.

Contributing Supporter

Athena Papadopoulos, TAPPED, 2017. The Smurfette, Installation view, Emalin, London. Courtesy the artist and Emalin, London. Photography: Plastiques.

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