Visitors entering the West Gallery at the Albany Museum of Art are finding themselves transported into a fantastical environment peopled by equally fanciful characters in Elinor Saragoussi’s installation Escape Plan. The exhibition was designed specifically for the West Gallery.
“A museum is a repository of history, reverence and the object,” AMA Guest Curator Didi Dunphy said. “It is rare to have a museum jump out of the confines of this definition to present a laboratory-like expression of the artistic endeavor. We are so very thrilled to commission Eli Saragoussi to create this site-specific work for the West Gallery at AMA. This opportunity provides the museumgoer a look into the working artist’s practice.”
The bright and colorful installation belies an underlying dark uneasiness.
“As I become more and more infatuated with the exercise of building my own reality through artistic creation, Escape Plan is yet another attempt to realize the fantasy I yearn to inhabit,” Saragoussi says. “With this installation, I have explored a particular ‘pocket universe’—the domain of the hooded giants.”
The hooded denizens, inspired by her mother’s recent brain surgery and her own insecurities, reside in bright, whimsical landscape augmented by an ambient soundscape created by Saragoussi’s musician partner Max Boyd. She said the “sweetly sordid” imagery lures the viewer in for the more melancholic subtext. In an age when experiences are so often virtual, Saragoussi says she is striving to create work that, however briefly, draws the audience out of its own reality. It is an journey that should be experienced in real life, not online, she says.
“I believe that this juxtaposition of the playful and dark translated through detailed craft creates something that feels special and is best experienced in person, something that cannot be replicated in a virtual environment,” she said. “For me, the artistic process is a quiet act of revolt against the contemporary culture of fast-paced, disposable content.”
A Denver, Colo., native, Saragoussi is based in Athens, where she creates art in a variety of media and is a musician with two bands Baby Tony and the Teenies, and Sicky Vicky. She has a biology degree from the University of Colorado.