alien space (2008)

Although all her works differ in appearance, for Alexandra Dementieva the main topic remains people, their psychological interactions - between themselves and the world around, including art works - and their perception of the world.

'Alien space' is presented as a miniature of the human universe: it is amazing, cruel, childish, stupid, beautiful and fragile at the same time. It acts as an independent organism with all of its possible merits and demerits. Like the complete universe it reacts to all outside stimuli as well as internal changes induced by visitors. Every movement triggers either sound or image and [irreversibly] changes its composition. The installation consists of 800 latex pearl and transparent balloons forming two corridors, about three meters long each, leading to a central circular space. Images of various international television personalities continually mutating into extraterrestrials and robots are projected onto the balloons. When a visitor moves through the ...

Full Description

Although all her works differ in appearance, for Alexandra Dementieva the main topic remains people, their psychological interactions - between themselves and the world around, including art works - and their perception of the world.

'Alien space' is presented as a miniature of the human universe: it is amazing, cruel, childish, stupid, beautiful and fragile at the same time. It acts as an independent organism with all of its possible merits and demerits. Like the complete universe it reacts to all outside stimuli as well as internal changes induced by visitors. Every movement triggers either sound or image and [irreversibly] changes its composition. The installation consists of 800 latex pearl and transparent balloons forming two corridors, about three meters long each, leading to a central circular space. Images of various international television personalities continually mutating into extraterrestrials and robots are projected onto the balloons. When a visitor moves through the narrow corridors he inevitably accidentally touches the balloon wall, evoking mumbling sounds and an occasional weak light shining from inside a balloon. When a visitor reaches the central space, his movements cause changes in the audio and video environment. The sound environment is based on recordings in 67 languages from television and radio programs that mix in a Babylonian cacophony. Throughout his stay in the installation the visitor is immersed in a constant flux of clear and blurred images and sounds that affect him both physically and emotionally, with a worrying reality filled with accidents, potential destruction, dramas but also love stories. The seemingly normal becomes alien - harmless balloons become living cells, the entire installation transforms into a futuristic building or perhaps a laboratory with shiny metallic surfaces. The very fragility of the balloons thin skin becomes subconsciously disturbing, simultaneously arousing feelings of curiosity, attraction and disgust.

Using balloons as a building element provides Dementieva with and important extra layer of meaning. Their egg-like shapes obviously allude to the birth of new life while being simultaneously symbolic of the grave and life renewed by breaking out of it. The latex material is slowly leaking air and its life expectancy is limited to just a few precious weeks. As demonstrated in a documentary video the installation can be quickly deinstalled by simply puncturing [popping] balloons, thus demonstrating the fickleness of life.

In this context it is interesting to point to Peter Sloterdijk’s wonderful trilogy “Spheres” (Sphären) in which he relates all human existence to the all empowering forms of the sphere and the circle that are an inevitable constant in the way life is structured and how we subconsciously structure it ourselves. The sphere is in fact an unavoidable reference point that both soothes and suffocates just because we can’t escape from it. The only solution seems to be to play with this given and find its nevertheless endless possibilities.

Dementieva links her choice of images for the installation to contemporary metaphysics, to our search for new “gods”, or something beyond ... The news anchors thus become messengers from another world, an indefinable “artificial intelligence”. The media world represents for Dementieva a sort of pantheon of the gods; with their everyday appearance in our life they are just as repeatedly present as the gods and their presentations are nearly identical in countries all around the world. However atheistic we would like to be, we are still in constant need of creating our own gods and somehow yearn for their attractive yet threatening presence. Edith Doove/Alexandra Dementieva

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