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'

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