New exhibition at SMK delves into the relationship between artistic creation and institutional support
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New exhibition at SMK delves into the relationship between artistic creation and institutional support
Nairy Baghramian (b. 1971), SÅ LÆNGE DET VARER*, 2017. Photo: Frida Gregersen.

COPENHAGEN.- From 7 December 2017, the x-room venue at SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark shows the exhibition SÅ LÆNGE DET VARER* by internationally renowned artist Nairy Baghramian. With an installation produced especially for the x-room, Baghramian reflects on the role of the institutional frame as an experimental space that is made available to contemporary art.

In her multi-layered sculptural work, Nairy Baghramian implements an architectural reminiscence of the Renaissance Society in Chicago, thus referring to the history and meaning of this influential US institution. Through the transference of the grid-like ceiling structure from the Renaissance Society into the x-room at SMK, she creates a situation that calls attention to the general interdependence between artistic creation and institutional representation.

Reflecting on the ceiling grid at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, initially conceived as an architectural feature holding lamps etc. and then, over decades, worked over and repeatedly subjected to interventions by artists, Baghramian uses the grid almost as a matrix. The structure has since been taken down, but Baghramian obtained a piece of the original grid to cast her sculpture from. In her version, the originally solid, load-bearing grid structure is transformed into light, semi-transparent shapes propped up by thin polished metal rods.

The steel truss grid can be seen as a support structure for The Renaissance Society and has become an iconic representation of the institution and the pioneering curatorial work of Susanne Ghez, who, through her unwavering continuity and loyalty to the institution over 40 years, represents the urgency of permanent commitment. The Renaissance Society represents an institutional framing that has been inspirational to institutions interacting with contemporary artists. Baghramian’s sculptural work meanders through the x-room pointing to the experimental potential, which spaces like this are supporting.

Baghramian is generally interested in supports – in what holds up something, in that which something stands upon, in what underpins and shores up functions in our bodies, in our spaces and in our everyday lives.

As is often the case in Baghramian's installations, she introduces a further level of meaning through a photographic work: The self-portrait Smart Water, which is an artistic reference to the conceptual artist Michael Asher’s seminal public sculpture Untitled, 1991, located on the campus of the University of California San Diego. The photo shows Baghramian drinking from Asher’s sculpture, which transfers a well-known architectural feature from official US buildings, a drinking fountain, into stone, and into an outdoor space.

The exhibition title SÅ LÆNGE DET VARER* is a translation of the text piece AS LONG AS IT LASTS by the artist Lawrence Weiner, who in 1994 painted a version of this work on the walls of The Renaissance Society.

German artist Nairy Baghramian (born in 1971 in Isfahan, Iran) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. The x-room exhibition constitutes the artist’s first solo show in Scandinavia.

Baghramian’s exhibition activity includes DOCUMENTA 14, Kassel (2017), Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017 and 2007, and solo shows at e.g. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017–18), S.M.A.K. Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent (2016), Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2015), Art Institute of Chicago (2014)

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