The works of a Russian artist have been removed from an exhibition at Norwich Castle. “Ode to a Flint”, which was due to begin tomorrow (12th of March), has been shelved in response to the Ukraine crisis.
The exhibition was created by Yelena Popova – a Russian born, but UK based, artist. Her works will no longer be displayed in the Timothy Gurney Gallery “in response to the war in Ukraine”, the castle say in a press release.
The exhibition consists of stones found around decommissioned nuclear power stations in the UK and a collection of tapestries and paintings that, Popova says, “deal with our nuclear heritage and Cold War history.”
While she acknowledges the political connotations of her work, she does not consider herself an activist – and her work does not contain any comments nor opinions on the current crisis in Ukraine. Yelena calls herself a pacifist, and says her position is to “stay away from any form of conflict.”
Catherine Rowett, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, said that “There’s no reason under the sun to suppose that an individual of Russian descent is a supporter of the Putin regime, unless the work is taken to be supportive in some way.”
“But art is political, that is without a doubt, and this art clearly is connected to, and commenting on, the history of nuclear proliferation which is part of our current crisis. The issue of whether you cancel it for that, or just invite the public to think about the issues, is another question.”
The Castle say in their statement that: “Yelena, in agreement, has withdrawn her works in solidarity with all those affected by the war.” Instead, they pledge to “work with the artist to use the space to reflect on the crisis in Ukraine and allow visitors to show support for those affected. Further details of this new approach will be released next week.”
Members of the Norfolk Joint Museums Committee were approached, but declined to comment at this time.
by George Cooke