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Popel Coumou

Fly Over

Popel Coumou photographed empty offices in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district. All there is to see is the walls, the windows, the light and the view. She has manipulated and staged these photographs so subtly that we do not doubt what we are seeing until we look a second time.

Used to thinking of photography as a reflection of reality, we are continually put off balance by Popel Coumou’s work.

She stuck sheets and strips of paper to her office photographs and then rephotographed the collages. The results are projected on a glass wall, creating an interplay between two worlds.

In the spaces Popel photographs, people are almost always absent. Her images are thus not narrative ones: only the division of the room, colour and the play of light create the hushed atmosphere.

She later builds 3D models of the rooms, using stark effects of light and shadow, and photographes them again. Sometimes she builds imagined or ‘virtualised’ miniature rooms of clay, paper and textile. She then photographs these as if the buildings can actually be entered.

She does not work in digital but analogue form and blows up the pictures to create a grainy aspect, as in a painting.

Her work approaches abstraction but takes reality as its starting point.