Darja Popolitova, still from video series "Primitive Softness for Personal (?) Skin". Sound design: Andres Nõlvak, VFX: Jakob Tulve. At exhibition "Tacilite: Stone that Tickled The Gaze at Hobusepea gallery, Tallinn, 2021. Courtesy of the artist

Darja Popolitova (1989) uses jewellery, digital techniques and video in her work. Combining these media, she asks the question: how to initiate a cognitive transfer from the virtual to tactile in a way that can provoke social and cultural change? In creating jewellery, she uses innovative and sustainable technologies and materials.

One of Popolitova’s first solo exhibitions “Eros Loading” (2017, HOP gallery) highlighted the theme of digital intimacy and how people’s behaviour on virtual platforms is related to narcissism. For this exhibition, Popolitova created jewellery using 3D modelling and materials such as single-crystal silicone and silicon discs used in electronic devices.

Popolitova’s exhibition “iTouch Store” (2019, A-gallery’s Vault) looked at touch within the context of digital culture, where screens receive an excessive amount of attention, and showed how representations of jewellery can be used to convey tactile qualities. The exhibited jewellery and objects were created to solve potential issues in the digital age. The titles of the works speak for themselves: “Hot Not Only Online Phone Case”, “Silicon Nail for Touching Screen”, “Digital Detox Brush”.

In her videos, Popolitova uses her own body and her original jewellery. At the exhibition “Magical Hotspot” (2020) in the project space Vent Space, she performed as Seraphita the witch, a fictional character inspired by magicians who use various screen-based platforms. The aim of the exhibition, consisting of three video works, an installation, and an interactive session with the artist, was to perform rituals to heal issues present in the Estonian society.

At the group show “Life in Decline” (2021, Estonian Mining Museum) Popolitova exhibited a total installation titled “ЭСТИМА КОДУМА” (2021), looking at tension and communication between different language groups in Estonia. The installation features poems alongside an embroidered dress, a piece of oil shale, an orchid, graffiti – these make up a background for a mysterious ritual conducted by Seraphita the witch, reciting the linguistic future of the Ida-Virumaa region in Estonia. The artist invited us to think about the performativity of language, and to look at the liminal blurred areas of untranslatable linguistic forms in Estonian, where the capability of language to react to social and cultural change in a creative way arises.

With her solo show “Tactilite: Stone that Tickles the Gaze” (2021, Hobusepea gallery) Popolitova continued developing the character of Seraphita – to once again expand the conventional functions of jewellery. The educational videos, jewellery, and tools displayed at the exhibition were created to satisfy specific needs, such as increasing confidence, trigger intimacy, or handle aggression better. Characteristic of Popolitova, all the artistic ideas are applied in a maximalist manner – into a relatively small gallery space, the artist fitted five video works, jewellery, installations, and a space for Seraphita’s weekly sessions.

Darja Popolitova studied jewellery and blacksmithing (MA cum laude, 2015) and glass art (BA, 2012) at the Estonian Academy of Arts. She has participated in exhibitions at Museum Arnhem in the Netherlands (2020) and at the MAD Museum in New York (2019), as well as at the Kunstnerforbundet gallery in Oslo (2018). Popolitova is represented by galleries Marzee in Nijmegen, Beyond in Antwerp, and Door in Mariaheide. Her works belong to the collections of the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Museum Arnhem, as well as private collections. She received the Annual Award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment (2020) and in 2018, scholarships of the Estonian Ministry of Culture and Adamson-Eric. In 2015, she received a scholarship by the Noor Ehe foundation.

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Selected projects

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