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.


  1. I love these older works, but there is a new "relaxed" quality in the newest sculptures that I think has even more emotional and conceptual power.

    Remember when Erin Thurlow "interacted" with one of your video/sculptures?

  2. Thanks for reminding me! It was the best one! He actually "dove " into the sculpture. Luckily, both Erin and sculpture remained intact after this "interaction"

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  4. i guess you could have listed "alcohol" one of the materials in that piece.. ha ha!

  5. jaime g.May 04, 2009

    Inna, I love both your old and new work...really great!