What really interests me about the work of Dena Yago is her exploration of how writing and visual art can intersect, and yet remain anonymous from each other. A few years ago, my boyfriend gifted me a book of her poetry, “Esprit”, a collection of writing produced alongside a series of works for Tomorrow Gallery.
For her first solo exhibition in New York at Eli Ping, "Distaff", Dena Yago collaborated with Denitsa Popova, a rug weaver from Bulgaria, and Cara Piazza, a natural dyer. She harnesses these rugs onto old horse tacks, creating droopy objects nostalgic of rural life.
The exhibition takes its focus on the paramount role the horse and its carriage, once central to agricultural economy prior to the industrial revolution. Today, in urban settings, the horse and its carriage is now used for leisure in Central Park, considered a cruel and inhuman facet of tourist trade. ASPCA Signage and pamphlet information regarding The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages is available at the gallery, and included in works in the show.
Dena directs the fate of objects from the small village in Bulgaria, for instance, to the hip art space. As it parallels the economic aspect of the art market, her interest in the heritage narrative of soring horses also sheds light on the origins of our general economic system. This paradigm to Dena is the macro version of the network of art producers as she submerges herself in in New York City.
The amorphous rustic objects only serves as a vehicle for the artist to speak of pedigree altogether, as her role an artist is the last on their line of transformation from objects to gilded art. The blunt irony in “Distaff” is subdued by Dena Yago’s approach as she is clemently telling instead of showing, applying her writing skills to the three dimensional world of objects.