Come to Ambach & Rice gallery in Los Angeles from now till December 28, 2011 to see some incredibly interesting paper sculptures that look like something out of a crazy carnival. Prisoners of Conscience is a wild sculptural installation by Armenian artist Karen Sargsyan inspired by political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. It’s fascinating how this artist is able to highlight the struggles of the human spirit in his works.
From the Ambach & Rice website, here’s the story behind the pieces:
“Prisoners of Conscience utilizes the trial and subsequent imprisonment of Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a narrative departure point. In 2004 Khodorkovsky was the wealthiest man in Russia, amassing a fortune through his petroleum company Yukos. As he rose to power Khodorkovsky became an increasingly outspoken critic of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his political regime, condemning the rampant corruption he felt to be ubiquitous among state officials. These denunciations ultimately led to a rigged trial and his incarceration.
“Sargsyan finds resonance in Khodorkovsky's unlikely succession from oligarch to human rights and free speech advocate. His figures exist in the midst of a similar physical and psychological transformation. Strained expressions peer through elaborate masks, conveying the sense that those inside the costumes have all but surrendered free will. For these characters, anguish and liberation are bedfellows, each reliant upon the other. The installation functions less as a literal dramatization of Khodorkovsky's plight than an obtuse homage to the universal truths inherent in his struggle. Sargsyan poetically reconsiders this contemporary political drama through a kaleidoscope of personal, historical, and allegorical references to present a theater that eschews time.”