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Searching for Symptoms - Ella Belenky

‘Searching for Symptoms’ by Ella Belenky is an eclectic and overlapping mix of drawing, found imagery, metal cages, and the digital.

13 November 2021 - 03 December 2021

ACAVA Central Space

23-29 Faroe Road

W14 0EL


The exhibition comprises a selection of works revolving around a structure of gabions, usually filled with stones to create landscape decorations and barriers. Within the project, the gabions function both as walls, structural support, but also as a conceptual element connected to the experience of the pandemic. Not only has this experience changed our relationship with freedoms and limitations, but it has also radicalised our perception of space and architecture. There is a discovery of permeability between the inside and outside - walls as well as our bodies.

The drawings, painting and prints in the project come from multiple research streams, connected mainly to three aspects of the pandemic:

  • Biological vulnerability

  • Psychological outcomes

  • The amplified relation with technology

Ella has been taking inspiration, visual references and re-purposed some titles from a found old copy of the RHS Pests & Diseases book. She connected this source to articles and studies about how the subconscious reacts (in the sleep) to the pandemic, making us dream about bugs and insects.

Lastly, she traces some language, conceptual and pragmatic links between the biological event and our dependency on technology. Starting from observing how many informatics names refer to nature (e.g. cloud, bug), she uses the internet, its icon and its tools to state the second nature correlation we have with them for communication, for safety, for survival.

The project explores timely topics and it's extreme relevance in a re-opening world, in which the old routines and way of living will be re-thought and re-arranged.


exhibition curator: Carolina Lio

assistant curator: Katerina Matheson

Ella Belenky (b. 1991, US) is based in London since 2017, when she moved from New York after her BA in Fine Arts from Bard College. In London, she obtained an MA from the Royal College of Art and participated in projects hosted by Kingsgate Project Space and Lewisham Arthouse, among others. She is the recipient of the Augustus Martin Print Award (2019) and Elizabeth Murray and Sol Lewitt Award (2013). Her work is in the collections of a number of institutions including V&A, London; RCA, London; and Headlands Center For The Arts, California.


Download the press release here:

Download PDF • 103KB

  1. Promotional image for Searching for Symptoms

  2. The Elephant in the Room / Searching for Symptoms Acrylic and oil paint, digital print and vinyl on canvas with wooden frame, 2020

  3. Exhibition view


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