Monday, February 16, 2009

The Playfulness of Installation Art

Yesterday, I finally ventured out to the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The exhibition of Irina Korina's "Installations" at 17 Ermolaevsky, a gallery of MMOMA, allows the viewer to walk through and on the art. Korina creates installation art that communicates emotion, feeling, experience, and place. Her playful work tantalizes the senses and activates childlike imagination and fascination with the "ordinary". And because of the art's structural and conceptual simplicity, the overall effect is a feeling or a sensation of playfulness and joy. The exhibition space is transformed from rooms in a museum, to a journey with the artist's imagination.

After wandering through the first floor of installations ("Smiles" and "Back to the Future"), I climbed the stairs to the next two installations. I enjoyed the strange familiarity of "Night Rate", essentially the view of an open window at night from outside (TV flashing, curtains waving). Then I curiously walked through the dimly lit forest of "Positive Vibrations", inhaling the scent of fresh pine needles and sap, and giggling inside as I walked up to a human size peep box filled with bright colors. Because the gallery was fairly deserted, I was alone and felt as if I had "discovered" someone else's secret fort. What would be the surprise? I walked up to it feeling excitement, joy, and anticipation. And then, though the colors were cheerful and it felt wrong, the peep box jolted me out of the calm. This fear was purely irrational because as I stood there trying to sort the feelings out, nothing lined up. So, I stepped back into the reverie of the "forest" and out of the installation.

"Positive Vibrations" back of the peep box without trees

One other installation, in particular, fascinated me - "Urangst" (German for primeval fear). This installation was made up of short wood planks attached to the floor in such a way that as I walked over them they rocked back and forth, making noise, and creating an interesting sensation of silliness for me. I was filled with trepidation when I first saw the piece. (The guard had to encourage me to step into the piece.) And I could never quite kick this feeling, so I only really enjoyed the piece for it's structural quality. I knew I was supposed to walk on it, but this runs counter to all museum etiquette I know (stand away from the work, don't touch, keep a safe distance, etc.) This piece, more than the others, challenged my understanding of museum space, but unfortunately, because of my inability to truly step into the work - I walked on the planks, but didn't relax - I didn't experience the sensation of "primeval fear" which "Urangst" seems to have been intended to communicate.


"Urangst" picture of planks

Though sometimes the feelings that are meant to be communicated fall flat (usually due to the viewer's inability to let the art take them), I love installation art because it emphasizes art as experience and generally challenges the perception of art as a single "piece" that the viewer is unable to truly interact with. But because of this experiential quality, most installation art is essentially ephemeral. Its effect cannot be fully felt through photos, and time and place dictate which installation art a viewer can experience.

You can read more about Irina Korina's work (in English!) at MMOMA's website

1 comment:

  1. hi Kimberly
    Your writtings are so clear like I am really there with you walking the planks. You diffently have a gift. I wish I would of gotten that gift from God. You express your self so clear...
    enjoy Ash Wednesday