Monday, March 25, 2013

Inna Babaeva

Visiting Inna's otherworldly Long Island City studio feels like stepping into another time and dimension!!
Inna's piece reminds me of those wonderful Daumier caricature sculptures, both in its playfulness and anthropomorphic grotesqueness. During my visits to the Art Institute of Chicago as a child, the Daumier sculptures were always among my favorite things in the museum's collection.
There's some serious Simulacra and Simulation going on here!! In the act of photographing Inna's image of an image, I'm perverting reality further, accessing semiotic hyperreality full on, and widening the gap even more between us and the true nature of being. Baudrillard would be overjoyed to witness this moment if he were still alive today, and especially if he happened to be guzzling down some of that choice whiskey of his!!
Inna and I discussed the idea of taking a utilitarian object and robbing it of its usefulness. Furniture legs, music stands, buckets, industrial pipes, and wine glasses are just a few of the objects that are stripped of their function and that undergo a metamorphosis in Inna's unabashedly ebullient work. She combines these objects with spray foam that she later spray paints.

Our conversation reminded me of Oscar Wilde, since he was an advocate of making useless things out of an entirely Hedonistic desire. I first read The Picture of Dorian Gray over a decade ago, and the book's unapologetic and antiauthoritarian attitude still resonates with me. The juicy descriptions in which Wilde objectifies beautiful men are also memorable and gratifying! I wrote this passage down and hung it on on my studio wall while I was still studying at the Art Institute:

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.
 Inna also takes photographs of both found images and scenes of everyday life. These are stills from Godard's Pierrot le fou that she plans on using in a future project.

This is another ongoing series of sculptures that Inna has, and this body of work operates in an entirely different way conceptually from her foam sculptures. The foam takes on an expressionistic quality in its organic, boundless form, and also has a relationship to Surrealism in its unearthly and bizarre color and shape. The way in which the foam pours out of the can and resists being entirely controlled as a medium, seems to metaphorically reference the parts of life that can't be neatly categorized or understood using the faculties of reason alone.

These wood and plexiglass sculptures have more of a relationship to Minimalism and seem to be more accepting of clearly defined boundaries and parameters, in their carefully measured, hard-edged, geometric forms. 
All of the sculptures in this series are modular and can be arranged in an endless amount of ways.   
Inna's signature exuberance and lively sense of mischievousness shows up in various moves, like attaching this bicycle mirror to the sculpture. The sophisticated sense of play and non sequitur decisions imbue Inna's work with a feeling of spontaneity and fun.

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