This exhibition is the first international museum presentation of the work of sculptor Nairy Baghramian (b. 1971, Iran; lives and works in Berlin). Baghramian explores and reflects on the legacy and languages of both modernism and Post-Minimalism, which she simultaneously pays homage to and disrupts. Over the past two decades, the artist has become known for her reflection on Minimalism and contextual approaches to exhibition making via sculpture and site-responsive installations that play off the body and its gestures. Her work marks boundaries, transitions, and gaps in the museum and the urban space, referencing interior and exterior, fashion and design, theater and dance, form and meaning, context and discourse. Using such materials as curved steel sheets and soft rubber, geometric frameworks and hybrid objects, plastics, waxes, and fabrics as well as cast or combined elements and photography, the artist challenges and questions the definition of sculpture. In doing so, she exposes the context of her exhibitions, making this tension inseparable from her artistic production.
The exhibition features a series of new pieces that mirror or play off of the artist’s previous bodies of work while responding directly to the site, creating a new model of what a retrospective can be and allowing the installation to evolve in real time and space. Taking its title from a French phrase that indicates an adjustment made to one’s worldview from being overly specialized or made expert, the exhibition also speaks to the process of taking apart or making transparent one’s profession—in this case, the laying bare of the sculptor’s method. Through her playful take on the retrospective gaze, Baghramian unpacks and interrogates the conceptual, physical, and social aspects of sculpture.
Nairy Baghramian: Déformation Professionnelle is accompanied by a major publication, the first comprehensive monograph on the artist’s work to date.
Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.)
November 26, 2016–February 19, 2017
Curator: Martin Germann
Walker Art Center
September 7, 2017–February 4, 2018
Curators: Vincenzo de Bellis with Victoria Sung