INNA BABAEVAWord of Mouth
September 12 - 27, 2020
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 12, 6-8PM
(please note that the gallery will adhere to the Covid-19 protocols of social distancing during the opening and for the duration of the show)
I first saw one of Inna’s pieces in a group show: there was a single sphere, precariously suspended by a wire compression spring. The gentle bouncing of the ball made me smile, and I felt some sympathy towards this miniature planet (there is a general hope in buoyancy; apart from being a beautiful word, it suspends us in safety). I know, because she told me, that Inna was referencing a 1961 Man Ray sculpture, and doing the typical Google search I found other orb pieces by Man Ray and other surrealist artists – many of them were drawn to circles and spheres, I suppose, in part, because they serve as natural analogues to the eye and to the world.
When Inna told me that her hand-blown glass spheres recently floated on the ocean, I realized that the objects were more animated that I thought (animated in terms of motion but also as anima the Latin word for soul). Of course, it is Inna’s will and her hands which carry these objects from place to place, but in that will there is also a window for the objects to act autonomously, to break, to be taken by a wave, to generate reflections onto other objects and so forth.
I think about Jean Piaget and his experiment in which children guessed the floating (and sinking) properties of different objects based on their appearance. Perhaps the mundane becomes a mirage because, even as adults, our senses cannot truly apprehend the hidden, ungovernable forces of gravity and inertia. Inna’s work makes these forces visible, in the process questioning our choices between freedom and confinement, danger and safety.
I think again of the balls floating in the Atlantic Ocean, like a children’s game where all the players have vanished, and the balls are left alone to defend their existence beyond the established rules. I smile in solidarity with the lack of direction and recognition of the fear for what is yet to come. What will be the shape of water in the coming months or years? Will the spheres continue to move in their current orbit, or will a new law of physics law cause them to float off into space?
Inna Babaeva received her MFA from Rutgers University, and a BFA from Florida Atlantic University. She recently had solo shows at TSA Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2016) and at Art in Buildings, New York, NY (2017). Her work has been shown at Kienzie Art Foundation, Berlin, Germany (2017), Gordon Galleries at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA ( 2018), and at Underdonk, Brooklyn, NY (2014), Reviews and features of Babaeva’s work have appeared in VICE Magazine, ArtFCity, SLEEK Magazine, Sculpture Center Notebooks, Glass Quarterly, and Art News. Babaeva was a recipient of Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2007), a Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program grant ( 2015), a visiting Artist Fellowship grant at Urban Glass ( 2017), and was a Rema Hort Mann Foundation grant nominee (2016).Her work is in the permanent collection of the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint , MI.
Babaeva was born in Lviv, Ukraine and she lives and works in Queens, NYC.