Thursday, April 30, 2009

Inna Babaeva (pt. 2)

I cannot stay here too long
metal, fabric, video projection, dimensions variable

Part 2 of my interview with Inna Babaeva below...

Jon Lutz: In some of your earlier works, there is a certain amount of directness that bends toward the conceptual. At the same time, you are still dealing with experience and physical engagement, but on a larger scale. I'm curious if these works were more conceptually based than what you are doing now?

Inna Babaeva: The work I made at that time was definitely nodding to Minimalism in its scale, the simplicity of forms and the notion of an interaction with a viewer. It departed from the minimalist credo: "what you see is what you see" . Yet, by inducing light and video projection into sculptural structures, my work actually defeated that idea and replaced it with: "what you see is what you see, and then more". They were a combination of visible and invisible, tangible and ephemeral, real and virtual, literal and metaphoric.

JL: There seems to be a great deal of planning involved...

IB: In terms of planning, all these works were multi-step productions: maquette making, construction of sculpture structures, video shooting and editing, and solving the technical difficulties along the way. Everything had to be planned, because the lack of planning meant a failure. And the role of a producer/problem solver usually was the reward at the end. It was like building a house - to design, to build and to make it livable.

Lapse, 2003, wood base, video projection, 4' x 18' x 18'

JL: Was there a shift that happened a few years back that prompted your change in direction?

IB: Yes. It was a shift in my process. The long term space-demanding productions once were a source of fun, and then they became a source of frustration. They took a very long time for completion, and only a small part of the conceived projects were ever executed. Most of the time I didn't have a space to present the work, and many of these projects never passed the stage of a small maquette. The produced work was too tricky to document and often didn't translate well in the forms of photography or video.

What's left probably was a turning point in my work. It was still about sculptural space, but there was a transition to the utilitarian, less precious materials like copy paper and paper clips. It was also about changing attitude towards the art making process that became more spontaneous and more fun.

Lapse (detail)

JL: Since it is not exactly clear what is going on in works like Lapse through reproduction, could you explain what we are seeing? What is the content of the video component?

IB: Lapse is a large stage-like wooden structure with a 4 foot deep "well" opening in the middle. At the bottom of the "well" a viewer can see the video projection of a stormy ocean's churning waters. The source of the image is a ceiling-mounted projector pointed down. Because of the shape of the well, the illusion of a greater depth is created and the projected image seems further away. It contributes to a vertigo effect when looking down at the "water". The idea of the work was the displacement of the image from its architectural context.

JL: In a way, these works are more engaging and inviting, especially with the inclusion of architectural constructions and videos. Have you seen a difference between the way people react/interact to these and your more current work?

IB: They were meant to be interactive. Their scale was related both to the architectural space and to a potential viewer. I think they were more engaging because they not only occupied space but also demanded time to absorb the video imagery. In that respect, Lapse was my most engaging work. During the opening of the show people were sitting, talking and drinking beer on the steps of the structure and by the "well". I found it to be really cool - that space in the gallery had been transformed into a social hangout. Not being able to see this kind of interactive response to my current work is one the trade-offs in that transition.

On and on, 2001, metal, fabric, video projection, each cylinder 8' h x 30" diameter

In case you missed it...the first part of out interview here and Inna's website here. Also check out her work in Central & Remote.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Upcoming One Night Shows

There are a few one night shows coming up that I'm really looking forward to (one of which is my own). They include many of my favorite artists...some of which have appeared on this blog. Click their names for the link to related posts.

April 26
Apartment Show, Far Out
Patrick Brennan, Elizabeth Deasy, Alicia Gibson, Christina Leung, Nolan Simon.

May 1 (...actually runs through the weekend)
HKJB, Personal Abstraction
Judith Braun , Chong Chu, Michael Dopp , Jay Henderson, Elizabeth Hirsch, Shawn Kuruneru, Benjamin King, Osamu Kobayashi, Denise Kupfershmidt, Jim Lee, Chris Martin, Craig Olson, Stephen Westfall, Wendy White

May 3
Use Your Illusion
curated by Jesse Hamerman w/ Sherri Caudell Brennan, Patrick Brennan, Ned Colclough, Jesse Hamerman, J.D.Walsh

May 9
My upcoming show. Also see Daily Operation and artist's links for more.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inna Babeava (Pt.1)

Inna Babeava has some great gems from years past, but after a recent studio visit, I thought it would be nice to start with some of her newer stuff. See the first part of my interview with Inna below and in part 2, we'll continue the interview and talk about her older works.

Also stay tuned for more info about my next show which will include Inna and many others.Central & Remote will be on Saturday, May 9 in Long Island City.

Effete, 2008, mixed media, dimensions variable

Jon Lutz: In your most recent body of work, you use very industrial and utilitarian materials that in themselves, can be cold and sterile. Somehow, you manage to combine these in such a way that that they become playful and engaging. How did you stumble upon this?

Inna Babaeva: I've been fascinated with elements of hardware, construction materials and objects of domestic design for as long as I remember. This interest manifested itself in different ways over the years but, at the time, I am utilizing these objects of fascination for the construction of friendly sculptural creatures. To me, casters, hinges and utility marking flags carry certain personality implied by their shape, color or function. It was this 70's movie where the main character, five year old boy, asks his teenage sister to get him as many cats as possible. Why? Because he "could make monkeys from cats, and then, could make bears from monkeys". Why? Because " bears will make the perfect friends". That beautiful kind of absurd logic informs the work I am making now. After significant amount of time spent transforming them from one completion stage to the other and overcoming multiple technical difficulties, the sculptures become my friends. And friends have to be fun, real, and awkward. Because only real is fun, and real is often awkward.

Succinct Advancement, 2009, rubber balls, paint, hardware, dimensions variable

JL: Also, there are expressly no “found” objects. Instead they objects that are clearly purchased for your purposes. I can’t think of a better precedent than Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, which he initially created for his own amusement. Is there a conscious choice here to hint of Duchamp? Are your works a source of amusement for you?

IB: I feel like the idea of a " found object" has been transformed significantly in last ninety-five years since Duchamp attached a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool. To me, an object is as " found" in a hardware store or Ebay as it is in a junk yard or a garage sale. It is "found" when you become interested or even obsessed enough with an object to make it a part of your daily living environment or your work. I am really fond of Duchamp's "I am not going to take anything seriously and just have fun with it" attitude. In the Bicycle Wheel, I like the idea of defying the function: you cannot sit on that stool and you cannot propel that wheel to move forward. In this respect, I can see the connection you mentioned: in my recent works the telescoping antennas in Good Reception don't receive a radio transmission, the hulahoops in a worked called Triftiernever will spin around anyone's waist, and the "stability" of the balls in Succinct Advancementis undermined by the casters they are placed upon.

JL: How do other influences manifest themselves in your work?

IB: The meaning of artistic influences is very broad. Broader than referencing the artists whose work obviously has a connection to ideas or formal approaches of mine. I recognize a work of art as influential by how deeply it moved me on an encounter with it and how it changed my ways of thinking and seeing. It could be a very long list. For example, I remember how stunned I was when I first saw the work of Bruce Nauman. It kind of changed my perception of "good" and "bad". Then there are the "peripheral" to art influences - architectural, commercial, industrial, stage design, etc. These always have been the important points of departure for me.

Good Reception, 2008, mixed media, dimensions variable

JL: Many of these works are semi-kinetic, where they seem to somehow be self-sufficient. Is it your intention to place them in specific spots with exhibited? Are works like Succinct Advancement meant to be interacted with?

IB: I did not intend for my sculptures to be interacted with, but I am not opposed to it either. Wasn't it the important idea of Minimalist's discourse that sculpture implies a participation of its viewer? The semi-kinetic structure of these works originated from the utilitarian roots. "Foldable, storable and movable" were the key words for me after numerous re-locations from one studio to another in the last few years. These features then became more conceptually and aesthetically innate to the work - that is, about failing attempts to be functional. In regard to a spatial placement, I don't think about it while making the work.

Duplicitous, 2009, wood, hardware, 5' x 3' x 3'

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

J.D. Walsh at Anthology Film Archives

THIS SATURDAY: J.D. Walsh’s newest (and most ambitious) video, "Untitled RPG" will be included in a program of short films and videos as part of the Migrating Forms film festival. The program, Conjurer Visit begins at 8:30 at Anthology Film Archives. Other participants include: Shana Moulton, Stephanie Barber, EMR, Sabine Gruffat, Grey Gersten, Steve Claydon, Darrin Martin and Torsten Zenas Burns, Jacob Ciocci & Shana Moulton.

Get your tickets HERE.

Also see: Walsh's website and my previous posts.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lance Rutledge

I had the chance to catch up with Lance Rutledge and spend some time in his studio. I'm really into what he's been doing and was especially excited to see some of his older works. See our interview and images below:

, 2008, oil on canvas, 30"x40"

Untitled, 2001, mixed media on canvas, 20"x24"
Untitled, 1996, mixed media on canvas 18"x24"
Tomorrow, 1995, oil on canvas, 18" x 24"

Jon Lutz: Have you always made work that attempted to directly engage an audience through language?

Lance Rutledge: I didn't always make language based work, but from the beginning I've used language in my work on and off. When in high school I made a series of crudely made little "joke books" which I would pass around to anyone who would read them. I made the jokes up and the most funny thing about them was how "unfunny" they were. The punchlines made no sense or just fell flat. Kids would look at me dumbfounded, or just start laughing because they were so ridiculous, or out of nervousness. Sometimes I couldn't stop laughing, and a lot of kids didn't get it.

JL: In any case, how did this emerge over time?

LR: The first work I showed after leaving college was a group of hand made books I'd crafted in San Francisco with found photos narrated with stories, or fake autobiographies, or overheard conversations. One of my favorites was illustrated with 50's porno photos my landlord had found stuffed behind a fireplace mantel when gutting the upstairs apartment. I accompanied the photos with a conversation I'd overheard about a plane crash in the Canary Islands. I showed this group of books in Washington DC around1979. It always amused me to watch people read the book and try and concentrate on the text.

Untitled, 2008, oil on canvas, 40" x 50"

LR: In the 90's after doing a lot of paintings, I felt a little adrift and uncertain of how to move forward, so I began sending anonymous letters and little painted signs to my ex dealer Colin deLand & his gallerist/girlfriend, Pat Hearn, as well as to a few other people in the Art World. They were all humor based & absurdist. This allowed me to break free & experiment without fear or judgement. It was liberating. I was very entertained and excited by working this way. Eventually my painting and this work merged. After five years I became that artist. Not that I wasn't all along.

JL: One for the most interesting things about your work is the way you deal, however subtly, with perception and contradiction. These phrases could be seen as either stream of consciousness ramblings or carefully constructed pseudo-poems. To what extent are the statements borrowed or self-invented?

LR: Nearly all of the statements are self invented or a little twist on something I've overheard or seen that catches my attention. And I sometimes write down lists of words, statements, or phrases that pop into my mind. If I find that something continues to intrigue me I might end up using it in a painting.

JL: Do you find desiring to replicate signs that engage you?

LR: I do see signs that engage me. I'm always sensitive to these things. I haven't replicated many, unless they're too good to pass up and I can make them my own in some way. I wouldn't like to use something that could be easily traced to a source already known. That would be too easy. It wouldn't interest me.

Untitled, 2002, oil on canvas, 18" x 24"

JL: Some of the works function more as “signs” than others. In some cases, a kind of horizon line separates a phrase from a group of silhouettes. In others, there is no language at all. How important is it for you to work in these different modes?

LR: I think it's important to feel the freedom to work in any mode that works for me. Sometimes it's very satisfying to make a painting that's simply all text. I like the abstractness of it visually, as in a Chinese calligraphic ink painting. That same Chinese painter would also be known for his landscapes. There was a contemporary Chinese artist in a show in the Asian galleries at the Met, who painted landscapes that were built up with Chinese calligraphy. The words/symbols functioned as marks to compose the landscape. Quite beautiful and smartly done.

Basically I don't like to be hemmed in and not feel the freedom to work in a way that suits my purposes. When I don't feel the need to use words... I don't. I don't want to force anything. I don't ever want to feel a prisoner to a style or way of working. In that case you might as well be illustrating hot dog packages.

Untitled, 2000, acrylic and photo collage on canvas, 20" x 20"

JL: How do you think this changes the “message” that using text implies?

LR: In terms of how language or no language changes the "message", I'm not at all sure. I don't know what the message is. I don't want to send a message anyway. I want to engage the viewer enough to return again to experience the painting. Hopefully there is always something left over after each viewing. Something hanging in the air. Otherwise I consider it a failure.

ALSO SEE: My previous post with Rutledge here.