Nairy Baghramian Performa
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In their largest collaboration to date, Nairy Baghramian and Maria Hassabi present Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre), an installation and live performances inhabiting two floors of a Fifth Avenue townhouse originally built in 1906. Taking cues from the spatial qualities of the building, the two artists turn domestic space into an intimate stage that probes the interplay of architecture and bodies while teasing out fantasies.
Baghramian’s friendship with the late designer Janette Laverrière (1909–2011) lays the groundwork for Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre). Over the last decade before Laverrière’s passing, Baghramian and Laverrière together explored the designer’s archives to imagine new variations and reinterpretations, often with a playful take on assumed notions of design’s utilitarian function versus art’s autonomy. They also subtly engaged with the tacit gender coding of architecture (male) and interior design (female). Hence, Laverrière’s 1947 design of a greenroom titled Entre deux actes—Loge de comédienne, derided at the time as too “feminine,” was Baghramian’s starting point for a new installation titled Entre deux actes II (Loge des comédiennes), conceived in 2009 in close collaboration with Laverrière. With this new work, the two relished blurring the line between art and design even more by exhibiting a reimagined “boudoir” as an art installation. The work still awaited the implied “comédienne” though, so Baghramian included her personal collection of Carlo Mollino’s series of erotic Polaroid photographs. On the walls, in frames designed by Baghramian, women in extravagant clothing with wigs and accessories used for late-night private modeling sessions conjure a world of fantasies, even though the photos were staged in the concealed space of the Italian architect’s private home. With the inclusion of Mollino, Entre deux actes II (Loge des comédiennes) became a “ménage à trois.”