“In the middle of Erewhon,” is the second solo exhibition of New York-based sculptor Aga Ousseinov at the gallery.
Ousseinov creates objects that appear as artifacts of past inventions, suggesting something imagined yet not realized. These “inventions” reference his early life in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, where hopes for Utopian progress abounded. The ambiguity of time stems from this environment where life was one neverending oxymoron – As technologically advanced as the country was, so many parts of their lives were old. Cultural endeavors were encouraged, and even nurtured, yet the repressive Communist ideology that attempted to build this idealistic vision censored much of it with the same vigor.
Ousseinov’s sculpture exists as a metaphor for travel, or rather escape, from this “idealism.” When his childish optimism of possibilities and alternate realities was silenced with the adult pessimism of coming to terms with “life as it is,” he resorted to creating fantasy modes of travel to escape from the harshness of this reality. However, his archaic looking, pseudo-Vernian Era machine vessels and ironic blueprints envision a world infected with a futile hope for progress. The absurdity and humor of these objects poke fun at ideological hubris, while affirming art as a space for imagining the impossible. Albert Einstein once said, “If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” In Ousseinov’s world, the dreamer is still hard at work.