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Alina Popa.
Alina Popa.

Alina Popa (1982–2019)

Alina Popa, a Romanian artist who moved between choreography, theory, and contemporary art, and was a cofounder of the Bucharest-based Bureau of Melodramatic Research (BMR), died on February 1. She was thirty-six years old. Her political and artistic research centered on affect theory, the relationship between neoliberalism and melodrama, and the ideological ties between mountaineering and nationalism. She had shown and performed at various institutions, such as MUMOK, Vienna; DEPO, Istanbul; and Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin. 

Born in Romania in 1982, Popa studied finance at the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies before studying painting, cinematography, and photography at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Bucharest. At the BMR, which she founded together with Irina Gheorghe in 2009, she researched the ways in which emotion is gendered and feminized, created work that addresses the effects of capitalism in contemporary society, and formed an online platform that aims to amplify the voices of cultural workers whose labor rights have been violated.

In her last text, titled “Disease as an aesthetic project,” she wrote: “The body is real but what we think about it is fiction. Medical views are the fiction imposed on us by modernity and capitalism. This is a consensus fiction. How you regard the body, how you name, determines how you act upon it and also how it acts back. . . . The body is as alien as the world. And we have to embrace its strangeness.”