Nairy Baghramian: Déformation Professionnelle

Nairy Baghramian: Déformation Professionnelle

Walker Art Center

View of Nairy Baghramian, Jupon Suspendu, 2017, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Photo: Gene Pittman. © Walker Art Center.

September 4, 2017
Nairy Baghramian: Déformation Professionnelle
September 7, 2017–February 4, 2018
Opening-day tour: September 7, 6pm
Walker Art Center
725 Vineland Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403
United States
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 10am–5pm,
Thursday 10am–9pm

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Over the past two decades, Nairy Baghramian has created sculptures, photographic works, and drawings that explore relationships between architecture, everyday objects, and the human body. Her works mark boundaries, transitions, and gaps in the museum, prompting us to consider form and meaning in the context of interior and exterior spaces. Drawing on a multiplicity of references—including dance, theater, design, and fashion—and producing unlikely juxtapositions in material and scale, Baghramian questions and challenges the definition of sculpture.

Déformation Professionnelle (Occupational Hazard) offers a new approach to the artist survey, an exhibition format that follows the development of an artist’s career over a period of time. Baghramian was invited by the Walker Art Center and the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent, Belgium to present a retrospective of her work, but instead made a counterproposal. Here, she presents entirely new sculptures that reflect upon and alter her previous bodies of work from 1999 to 2016. Some pieces incorporate rejected ideas or materials, while others explore variations in form. Baghramian is, as she says, “surveying the survey,” advancing the sculptor’s task into new territory with her ever-evolving practice.

At the Walker, Baghramian furthers her unprecedented experiment. In contrast to following the layout of the galleries in the first venue, her pieces respond anew to the building’s architecture. In viewing the two shows as variations on a single theme, Déformation Professionnelle points to the artist’s intent that a work of art never remain static or fixed but rather can be understood as a constantly evolving entity. Replacing repetition with reconfiguration, Baghramian continues to push the artist survey to unfold in real time and space.

The exhibition title takes its name from a French phrase often translated as “professional distortion” or “job conditioning,” referring to ways that a person’s worldview can be altered by their chosen vocation. The artist uses the exhibition as an opportunity to take apart her own profession and lay bare the sculptor’s method. In fact, the word “deformation” can also be applied to form, pointing to basic actions such as shaping, modeling, or casting. Through her playful yet critical take on the artist survey, Baghramian unpacks and interrogates the conceptual, physical, and social aspects of sculpture-making today.

Nairy Baghramian: Déformation Professionnelle is co-organized by the Walker Art Center and the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent, Belgium. The Walker Art Center’s presentation is made possible by generous support from Carlo Bronzini Vender, Sonia Regina De Alvares Otero Fernandes, the Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, Karen and Ken Heithoff, Danniel Rangel, RBC Wealth Management, and Seda North America.

The exhibition at Walker Art Center is organized by curators Vincenzo de Bellis with Victoria Sung.

Nairy Baghramian
German, b. Iran, 1971

Prior to Déformation Professionnelle, the artist has had solo shows at Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2016); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2015); Serralves Museum, Porto, Portugal (2014); Art Institute of Chicago (2014); Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany (2014); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2013); Sculpture Center, New York (2013); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2012); Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2011); and Serpentine Gallery, London (2010). The artist has also participated in Documenta 14 (2017); Skulptur Projekte, Munster, Germany (2017, 2007); Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture (2015); the Berlin Biennale (2014, 2008); Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art (2012); and the Venice Biennale (2011).

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September 4, 2017

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