Aspen Art Museum Summer Magazine 2023

Aspen Art Museum Summer Magazine 2023

ASPEN ART MUSEUM With: Nairy Baghramian, Kerstin Brätsch, Allison Katz & Florian Krewer





December 15, 2023–March 24, 2024 Cauleen Smith: Mines to Caves

Aspen Art Museum

637 East Hyman Avenue, Aspen, CO 81611 | 970.925.8050 Hours: 10 AM–6 PM, Closed Mondays Admission to the AAM is free courtesy of Amy and John Phelan

AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the AAM National Council.


in the company of


June 22–July 22, 2023

Aspen Art Museum

637 East Hyman Avenue, Aspen, CO 81611 | 970.925.8050 Hours: 10 AM–6 PM, Closed Mondays Admission to the AAM is free courtesy of Amy and John Phelan

AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the AAM National Council. Additional support for A Lover’s Discourse is provided by Chris Brown.




Board of Trustees John Phelan, Chair

In the midst of a bustling Aspen summer, we at the museum have been thinking about what it means to gather together in this wonderful corner of the world. This is my third Aspen ArtWeek as Director of the Aspen Art Museum, and with each year, I become more aware of the importance of this conven- ing, and how this time shapes the evolving identity and mission of the museum. Artists, writers, musicians, philanthropists, thought leaders and scores of other creative, talented indi- viduals band together in the mountains for a week of energized exchange and celebration. Friendships are forged, debates are had, discoveries are made. It is, in its own way, a temporary cosmos, but one that has immeasurable, lasting benefits for the museum and the communities we serve. Relationships and dia- logues, particularly those driven by artists, form the backbone of this issue of our summer magazine, but more broadly, fuel the ways in which we envision the museum’s future. ArtCrush honoree Nairy Baghramian is celebrated on the cover of this issue. An enduring visionary, Baghramian will complete a major commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this September, before which, she will create a significant exhibition and outdoor sculpture here in Aspen with us. Nairy’s cultivation of meaningful friendships is beauti- fully articulated in Amelia Stein’s profile of the artist, as well as a compilation of testimonies by Baghramian’s treasured peers, gracefully compiled by writer Laura McLean-Ferris. Ahead of their major exhibitions at the Aspen Art Museum in summer 2024, artists and friends Kerstin Brätsch and Allison Katz discuss each other’s practices and their influence upon one another. In a study of Florian Krewer, whose exhibi- tion currently unfolds across our lower-level galleries, writer Hiji Nam pinpoints relationships as the key subject of his paint- ings. And Terence Trouillot interviews Ulala Imai, ahead of her show, which forms part of “A Lover’s Discourse”—a new series of artist-led presentations here at the Aspen Art Museum introducing unexpected dialogues between artworks from different generations. I would like to take this opportunity to express my immense gratitude to our ArtCrush event chairs, Chandra Johnson, Jamie Tisch and Sara Zilkha, for their enthusiasm and vision for an unforgettable gala. I would also like to thank the inimi- table Molly Epstein and Abigail Ross Goodman for chairing the Collector Committee for ArtCrush 2023 and helping us gather some incredible works for auction—all of which will be on view at the museum July 26 through August 3. As ever, I am indebted to our fearless board of trustees, chaired by John Phelan and led by the remarkable Melony Lewis and Amnon Rodan, as well as the entire team of the Aspen Art Museum, whose unyielding enthusiasm is a constant source of inspiration and energy. On behalf of the board and staff, it is a pleasure to welcome to the museum this summer our visitors and friends from near and far. Across high and low seasons, our building is a nexus for artistic progress, accessible to all, for free. Here’s to another extraordinary year of conversation, ideas and unprec- edented experiences.

Melony Lewis, Co-President Amnon Rodan, Co-President Mary Scanlan, Secretary Justin Douglas, Treasurer

Sarah Arison Barbara Bluhm-Kaul

Chris Brown Janet Crown

Domenico De Sole Marcy Edelstein Bruce Etkin Joe Felson Christy Ferer Barbara Gamson

David Ganek Steve Hansen Toby Devan Lewis, In Memoriam

Nancy Magoon Nicola Marcus

Susan Marx Paul Pariser

Kelli Questrom Nancy Rogers

Gayle Stoffel Jamie Tisch

ArtCrush 2023 Gala Co-Chairs Chandra Johnson

Jamie Tisch Sara Zilkha

Nicola Lees Nancy and Bob Magoon Director Aspen Art Museum

AAM Magazine

Produced by Frieze Studios for the Aspen Art Museum

Francesca Girelli Claudia Kensani Saviotti Arianna Trabuio Sherie Sitauze

Head of Branded Content & Studios Content Operations Manager (interim)

The AAM is grateful for the support of Prada. Additional support provided by:

Matthew McLean Sara Harrison Chris Waywell Lauren Barrett Christopher Lacy

Editor Project Editor Senior Editor Art Director Designer

Assistant Producer Studios Assistant Special thanks to

CULTURED, Steven Shane of Compass Real Estate, Harbour, J.P. Morgan Private Bank, LALO Tequila, Lugano Diamonds, Margarita Bravo, Sotheby’s, UOVO

Kristina McLean and Stella Bottai

Kerstin Brätsch

Unstable Talismanic Rendering_ Psychopompo (with gratitude to master marbler Dirk Lange), 2017 Pigment, water color, ink and solvents on paper, 108 x 72 inches (274.3 x 182.9 cm) GLADSTONE GALLERY









20 AFFINITIES Artists Kerstin Brätsch and Allison Katz were once college roommates. In the subsequent years, the paths of their careers have crossed and recrossed through friendship and collaborations, as they discuss with curator Patrizia Dander. 24 A LOVER’S DISCOURSE A new series of artist-led presentations opens this summer at the Aspen Art Museum. “A Lover’s Discourse” juxtaposes recent works by early-career artists with pieces they selected from private collections around Aspen. Participating artist Ulala Imai talks to Terence Trouillot about her dialogue with image-making, past and present. 28 CODEOF CONDUCT (FAQ)


44 BODYDOUBLES Disconcerting duplications and pairs abound in the work of German figurative painter Florian Krewer, whose show “everybody rise” is showing at the Aspen Art Museum until September 24. Hiji Nam looks at a troubling language of dreams and resonances. 48 MEETTHE ARTISTS Explore the artists who are contributing works to the 2023 ArtCrush auction, including painters, photographers and sculptors. 60 BLANKET COVERAGE In a unique meeting of old and new creative processes, the Aspen Art Museum invited contemporary artists to collaborate with a 170-year-old Scottish weaving mill. The results are vibrant (and snug).


The 2023 ArtCrush Artist Honoree, Nairy Baghramian, is the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum this year. Amelia Stein explores Baghramian’s practice of “grouping” as a way to give form to sculptures, collaborations and friendships.

The Aspen Art Museum’s biennial youth exhibition has been at the heart of the institution’s wider community for more than 40 years. Its 2023 program, inspired by masks and puppets, was another gem. 38 THEASPEN COMPLEX The International Design Conference in Aspen was a hotbed of debate around the role of cultural aesthetics in 20th-century life from 1951 to 2004. What could its model of forward-facing research and fellowship look like in this century? Emily King and Prem Krishnamurthy consider its far-reaching influence.

On the Cover Nairy Baghramian in her studio in Berlin, May 2023

Photography Christian Werner

AAM Magazine is printed in Canada by Imprimerie Solisco


Nairy Baghramian’s work occupies a nexus of relationships, cooperations and dialogues with designers, curators and fellow artists. Four of her most significant collaborators talk to Laura McLean-Ferris about how some of Baghramian’s key projects manifest this spirit of connectivity.





Nairy Baghramian, the 2023 ArtCrush Artist Honoree, stages a major solo exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum this summer. Amelia Stein explores Baghramian’s practice of “grouping” as a way to give form to sculptures, collaborations and friendships.


Opposite Nairy Baghramian in her studio in Berlin, May 2023

Photography Christian Werner




instead that she shows the mechanics of work. Work Desk for the Ambassador ’ s Wife included maquettes and drawings by Baghramian that were never meant to be made into sculptures. In Modèle vivant (2022) at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Baghramian seemed to wonder what artwork might look like from an archaeological perspective—that is, dug up after it has become extinct. New work—including enormous, fossil- or dental mold-like impressions on elabo- rate dark blue, green and violet powder- coated metal stands, and geometric aluminum panels suspended from the ceiling on polished stainless-steel poles, with other, coarser aluminum elements and C-prints of flies on animal skins attached—were all arranged around works from the museum’s collection. If the job of Baghramian’s sculpture was in some ways to be analogy, the histori- cal works were asked to sincerely and somewhat anachronistically model how time changes shape. Live models. Life models. Imagine being responsible for making—or being —a model of life. Baghramian was intending something, I think, about artistic process and labor. How much can I rely on the artwork, or figure of the artist? What will she give me to help me understand? A recurring figure in the work since 2008, perhaps a counter- part to Laverrière’s actress, is the male escort, as in the exhibition, The Walker’s Day Off (2008) at the Kunsthalle Baden- Baden. He needs structural support too; he bears the weight of our demand for charm and novelty. Beauty, a cur- rency in every sense, is a complicated part of his job. Baghramian’s studio is in an industrial part of Berlin—something she does not want to fetishize. But it is where the actual mechanics are. When she first moved to the city with her family from Iran in the mid-1980s, it was customary for new buildings to receive colloquial nicknames, like the Washing Machine or the Oyster. This is something Baghramian thinks about: the shortest distance from alien to understanding, the economy of lan- guage and images, the way form enters into circulation through experience. Her sculptures must contend with the world they inhabit, one obsessed with legibility and output. How do works so heavy and in so abstract a language stay tenable; how do they live a life rather than only gesture at one? I really believe that form and its challenges are fundamental, and I think Baghramian does too. Form is the organization of meaning; it is nimble and living. Baghramian’s ability is in part to leverage the medium of sculp- ture in circulating formal ideas. As she wrote in Frieze Masters magazine in 2018, “My view on the present through the lens of the past is diverted by meandering around my surroundings and my own history”. The works address the anxiety and frustration and joy of universality as well as subjectivity. They will remain possible. They and I and she and all of it are just another part.

and exchanges. Her complex bargains of levity and gravity, her insertion of multiple, contradictory vantages, and the almost animistic drive her work seems to have toward formal evolution, are always in service of the subtle body of sculpture rather than the human body of mind and heart. Baghramian is conscious of display, always bringing it into the work. Frames, struts, stands or other sup- portive or interruptive apparatuses are often part of the grouping of a work. Sometimes the rigid or sharp or generally unyielding metal that other- wise plays a remedial role is left alone to make a structure, as in Scruff of the Neck (2016): bare, arcing lines of polished aluminum or steel intersect with one another and the wall. They leave the mind nowhere to hide. Except in the titles, which are also lacerating in some instinctual way. This feels important to spell out because of how reflexively and easily the modes and methods of collectiv- ity in Baghramian’s practice can get softened. What looks organic is really hard, cast silicone. Baghramian works with context, not influence. She isn’t interested in collecting what she likes. She is interested in figuring difference, in making work that edges ever closer to what sculpture really is for her—a way of putting things together hetero- geneously—somewhere between the audience and the object. This third body again. I can only try to make a shape around it. Both knotted ends of Treat (Marrowbone) (2016), a large wax bone, feel like fists approaching my solar plexus. The Portraits (2016), a grouping of framed C-prints or Baryte prints of billowing smokestacks, subtitled: The concept- artist smoking head, Stand-In , make “me” neither here nor there. All of these are gathered together again for “Jupon de Corps” at the Aspen Art Museum— another reconfiguration or working through of iteration, proximity, timeli- ness and boundaries. The universe is expanding—meaning the distance between things or the scale of space is growing. Baghramian’s universe expands via the innovative and complex ways she keeps the pieces as close as possible while holding them apart. In her first co-existence with Laverrière, La Lampe dans l’Horloge (2008), or The Lamp in the Clock , named for the Surrealist writer André Breton, Baghramian made a “room” of free- standing colorful walls for Laverrière’s iconographic mirror sculptures, or “useless objects,” inside Berlin’s Schin- kel Pavillon. The “useless objects” were the designer’s last works—homages to her creative and political heroes. The walls showed the works and kept them hidden, to an extent. Baghramian was dealing with how to strike a concomitance or equality of output and energy in a cross-generational partner- ship, against the still-pervasive trend of recuperating “lost” practitioners in contemporary art. When she remade a version of the installation within Work Desk for the Ambassador ’ s Wife (2019), a posthumous show with Laverrière at Marian Goodman, she redesigned (dissolved) the walls in Plexiglass. It was still about interiority, but more in the way that air is interior to the legs of a table. Baghramian brings systems of analysis to work in order to change her own structures. It might be too much to call this infrastructural. So I will say

Every part has a role to play in Nairy Baghramian’s work. Although she is very much a sculptor, a recent recipient of both the prestigious Nasher Prize and the Metropolitan Museum in New York’s 2023 facade commission, she is deeply attuned to performance and thinks in groupings, even within a single work. Showing contingency as well as contradiction is part of her method. This is apparent in the construction of the works—in her various techniques of casting, molding, carving and joining, and in her formal language of bends, droops, arcs and blobs. It’s also there, sometimes indirectly, in the titling of her works or exhibitions, which always in some way anticipate and respond to the conditions of their setting and the dynamic unraveling of perspective an audience brings. “Grouping” is Baghramian’s chosen word. She prefers it to “series” or “collaboration”—no forced harmony. A grouping can be an ongoing body of work, like the large, colorful polyu- rethane and silicone Sitzengebliebene/ Stay Downers (2016–), or a selection of works for a specific exhibition. It can also describe Baghramian’s relation- ships with other artists, including the interior designer Janette Laverrière, the contemporary choreographer Maria Hassabi, the midcentury archi- tect Carlo Mollino, or the modernist writer Jane Bowles. Their work might appear in or alongside Baghramian’s own work—in her forms or titles, or when she turns a solo into a group show. In the case of Laverrière, Baghramian found what is still the only monograph of her work in a bookshop in New York in 2007. In it was a photograph of Laverrière’s work, Entre Deux Actes: Loge de Comédienne — Be- tween Two Acts: An Actress’s Dressing Room , a collection of furniture she presented at a design salon in Paris in 1947, designed for her friend, a profes- sional singer, who had suddenly stopped performing, left Paris altogether, and disappeared. After learning that Laverrière was still alive and living in Paris at the age of 98, Baghramian traveled to meet her. The two began an intense and productive dialogue that evolved into ideas for new work, and when Baghramian was asked to do an exhibition at the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden in Germany, she invited

Laverrière to restage Entre Deux Actes. She later called their partnership a “co-existence”. The new version of Entre Deux Actes II—Loge des Comédiennes (2009) was an installation by way of impression. Each original piece was either reduced to its bare structure or cursorily exaggerated like shapes in a dream. The colors were inverted and shadows solidified, using logics of memory and afterimage. The reimagined work felt improvisational and playful: a tiger skin rug was replaced by a chalk outline. Baghramian’s work is never funny ha-ha, but it has an incredible way with irony, sharp in the way that history is—tragedy not excluded. In the origi- nal Entre Deux Actes, Laverrière gives her friend one more appearance, a private moment of space and time, in the form of an ensemble. In the restaged work, there’s still no body there. But the missing actress re-finds her audience in a new, uneasy context, and Laverrière and Baghramian work up complicated dynamics of disap­ pearance and presence with a group of elements as forms of life. How can a work be not like itself? I’m trying to identify some irreducible element of Baghramian’s practice that is to do with relationships. She herself has titled more than one exhibi- tion ménage . At Performa 19 in New York, Baghramian staged Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre) (2019) for which she installed the actress’s reim- agined quarters along with Mollino’s erotic Polaroids, and a durational work by Hassabi where the dancers got very close but never touched. Their co-existence relied on a micron of autonomy. The dictionary definition of ménage is household, which also says a lot about desire and sublimation, about split infinitives and trust. That there is never just one body in Baghramian’s work is maybe clear by now. She often uses the example of doing away with the “to-scale” individual used in architectural models. Harder to account for is that there’s every body and there’s no body. Even when a work—bent over in sections of mottled pink and white marble rein- forced by cast stainless steel—is called Knee and Elbow (2020), Baghramian’s approach to the body is figural rather than figurative: about impressions

Above Nairy Baghramian working on the exhibition ‘Modèle vivant’ in her studio in Berlin, May 2023 Opposite, top Nairy Baghramian, Dwindler , 2018 Opposite, bottom Nairy Baghramian’s studio in Berlin, May 2023

Nairy Baghramian’s exhibition “Jupon de Corps” runs from June 22 to October 22, 2023. More information about the exhibition and related events can be found online at

Amelia Stein is a writer, editor and teacher. She lives in London, UK .


UOVO.ART • +1 212 265 3111 • INFO@UOVO.ART







Nairy Baghramian’s work occupies a nexus of relationships, cooperations and dialogues with designers, curators and fellow artists. Susanne Titz, Paulina Olowska, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Charles Aubin talk to Laura McLean-Ferris about how some of Baghramian’s past projects manifest this spirit of connectivity.






Susanne Titz Director, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany

the public presentation of art as some- thing that needs to be determined and argued for by the artists themselves. This chimed so closely with ideas I had about the rewriting of art history since 1960. At that time, artists were much better informed than the curators, art historians and critics, and in a way, they taught everybody to change the modes of exhibition and the terms of art production and art presentation. I think Nairy is an artist who always reflects all of this, while also present- ing sculpture that is itself, formally, so autonomous, so seductive. Her work creates a discourse around objects and the sculptural process that she is undertaking.

When I invited her for a solo exhibi- tion, Nairy responded that it would be much better to work in a constella- tion. The show we eventually planned, “Open Dress” (2014–15), with Lukas Duwenhögger, Lutz Bacher and Danh Võ, was more like a play: the museum was the stage, and it happened in four rehearsals. I like the term “rehearsal” because every part of the exhibition was in a state of flow. It was not set, showing the audience: “This is it, this is the result”. Instead the audience was invited to think about the possible reasons for what was there. For the first rehearsal we hung Lukas Duwenhögger’s paintings, which were rarely seen at that time, alongside other half-unwrapped works and crates. On the floor was Lutz Bacher’s Big Boy (1992)—a work based

on a puppet used in therapy sessions with kids who have been abused and who are not able to speak about things—but which has been scaled up about ten times. There was a 15th century Portuguese Christ figure in Danh Võ’s Dirty Dancing (2019) installa- tion, and Nairy’s table sculpture from Formage de tête (2011), which always reminds me of an autopsy table or a butcher’s shop. Everything looked so rough and raw and so physical—very fleshy, in a way. For the subsequent rehearsals we produced a number of other scenes with the same objects. I think when Nairy was working on “Open Dress” she was concerned with how artists were being controlled or defined by others and being put in a po- sition where they couldn’t define their own exhibitions. She was thinking of

Above Nairy Baghramian, Vierte Wand/Zwei Protagonistinnen , 2005. Courtesy: Wilhelm Schürmann Collection, Herzogenrath; photograph: Thor Broedreskift

I first saw Nairy’s work when she had an amazing installation titled Fourth Wall/Two Female Protagonists (2005) as part of her solo show at Galerie Nagel Draxler in Cologne, Germany, that year. I realized she was thinking about the way a work can be both art and display as well. This interested me because I felt she was producing the entire space, as both artist and cura- tor—an approach that connects to the Museum Abteiberg’s history. Artists collaborated with Johannes Cladders during his directorship here (1967–85), as a way of thinking about the institu- tion, thinking about the role of art in the public sphere.





Paulina Olowska Artist

sculpture, so I felt it related to Nairy’s work as well as the theme. When I saw her installation Scruff of the Neck (2016) in a collection display at Tate Modern last year, it gave me shivers of pride because I really feel that every time, she moves the ancient subject of sculpture forward. She really grabs sculpture and connects it to the oddest things such as dentistry, dog bones, the tongue, skin, lips and so on. It seems to relate to appetite. I want to see her work more and more because every time she touches a new nerve of corporeal sensitivity. Nairy is one of my muses. She’s an absolute artist in a way, and I’m fasci- nated by watching her create work over the last 20 years and seeing her politi- cal engagement, her outspokenness and the way she really stands up for other

artists as well. She is also not afraid to “play with the boys”. She can take on the big guys of sculpture like Claes Oldenburg and Franz West. There can only be one Franz West, right? Don’t fuck with Oldenberg. But Nairy, she does it in her own way. And she’s better.

she worked with the idea of sculpture belonging to the kitchen. So there were tables, reflections, hooks. It reminded me of the film, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989). There is always a sense of a ques- tion or a proposal in her exhibitions: the role of the artist doesn’t end at all when a work is made. For “Off Broad- way” at the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco, she invited other artists to be part of a structure where works would come on and off the “stage”. At that time I had been struggling to renovate a huge neon of a volleyball player on a building in Warsaw. Nairy asked me if I had any work about that, and we chose a neon that said Dancing (2007)—another piece I tried to renovate in Warsaw. It was a good choice because it is like a public

Above Nairy Baghramian, Scruff of the Neck (LL 23/24 & LR 26/27/ 28) , 2016. Courtesy: Tate, London

For a very long time, Nairy and I were always in conversation about our roles as women in art. We came from different backgrounds but we both had a sense of angst, and a desire to change the position of women. She was always inspirational to me in the radicality of her speech, and in the way she looked for answers through connecting to women artists from other generations. I’m a painter, while Nairy approaches things more from the point of view of sculpture: sculp- ture as a body, as a three-dimensional form. But we share a sense of narra- tion, of building a story within a show. In the 2011 Venice Biennale I loved her presentation Formage de tête, in which





Hans Ulrich Obrist Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London When I first met Nairy, she was doing a residency at Studio Voltaire in London, and I made a studio visit together with Julia Peyton-Jones. We were absolutely blown away by what we saw. Nairy told us about the fact that she had come out of performance and dance, and had started to almost break down choreog- raphy into sculptural elements. So her sculptures in that sense were always connected to the body and to prosthet- ics and fragments: that was something which very much struck me at the time. I started doing studio visits when I was a teenager, and when I was 17, Fischli/Weiss sent me to see Rosemarie Trockel in Cologne, Germany. Rosemarie

writes so beautifully about the fact that her relationship to Wynter is not one of genealogy. It’s not like her work would be derived from hers genealogically, but that she is always thinking with Wynter. And that resonated with me a lot because that’s what I have always done with Édouard Glissant. It’s not a genealogy, it’s a toolbox. Nairy has always shared my conviction that we need to protest against forgetting. In this digital age, we can assume that information leads to more memory, and one can see this in her collaborations with Janette Laverrière, the extraordinary Swiss-French designer. So Nairy has always had in her practice that idea of talk- ing about and working around artists from previous generations whom she admires and then connects to with her work. The work has such incredible potential as public art, as we have seen in the last

Phyllida’s work. I thought it was fasci- nating, and that there was a real trans­ generational dialogue, and so that was the initial prompt for us to do a two-person show with them at the Serpentine in 2010. Nairy once told me that for her, sculp­ ture should have the possibility to not fulfill expectations, and maybe sculpture could change what we expect from it somehow. We felt that both she and Phyl- lida were brilliantly fulfilling that in such different ways, and thought it would be interesting to combine them. There was some very interesting asymmetry about their approaches because obviously, if the work was too similar, I think there would be something slightly reductive. I always think that genealogy can be a problem. Paradoxically, it reminds me of Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s book on Sylvia Wynter , Dub: Finding Ceremony (2020). In it Gumbs

was really happy that I was visiting younger artists, but she thought I should also visit more pioneering artists. And she particularly talked about the idea that many extraordinary women artists hadn’t had enough visibility. She believed that I should always ask when visiting a city if there were pioneering artists whom I should visit. So since then, I have applied the Rosemarie Trockel methodology, which also led us to make a studio visit with Phyllida Barlow, as many younger art- ists told us about her. The nanosecond that Artforum ’s end of the year issue arrives, I always go to the section where artists talk about other artists, because I love the idea of the artist’s artist: the generosity of artists talking about other artists. And I always remember this tiny paragraph that Nairy wrote about

Above, left Nairy Baghramian and Phyllida Barlow, Nairy Baghramian Klassentreffen (Class Reunion) , 2008, installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2010. Courtesy: © Nairy Baghramian and Heins Schürmann Collection, Herzogenrath; photograph: Raphael Hefti Above, right Nairy Baghramian and Phyllida Barlow, Nairy Baghramian Londoner Türsteher (London Bouncer) , 2010, installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2010. Courtesy: © Nairy Baghramian and Serpentine Gallery; photograph: Raphael Hefti




couple of years. Each time we collabo- rate, for me, there is another window that opens into another dimension. Most recently, I saw in her studio an amazing body of drawings which I had no idea about. I just think there are probably so many facets to Nairy’s work that we don’t even know about yet. It has only just begun.

Below Nairy Baghramian and Maria Hassabi, with Janette Laverrière and Carlo Mollino, Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre) , 2019, installation view, Performa 19

Charles Aubin Senior Curator and Head of Publications, Performa, New York

A lot of Nairy’s sculptures allude to the idea of a prosthetic, or extension, or replication of limbs and body parts. She thinks in a very direct, corporeal sense, and the materials she uses (wax, rubber, resin …) often have a kind of tactile appeal. They make a direct call to the viewer in a physical way. During a studio visit back in 2018, Nairy told me about an installation that she had presented at Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany—a collaboration with the designer Janette Laverrière called Entre Deux Actes II—Loge des Comédiennes, which was a reconfiguration of one of Janette’s designs from 1947, as an instal- lation. It’s a green room for a singer. At the time, when she told me about this project, I was simultaneously in conver- sation with a space on Fifth Avenue in New York about partnering for Per- forma. It’s called 1014 now, but it was the old Goethe Institute building—an empty townhouse from 1907, facing the Met. I felt there was something to explore around its domestic aspect, and this is where the performance Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre) was eventually held. What I think is very special about Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre) is the way that Nairy is a true collaborator. She has a studio practice that she keeps private, but she also often makes space for projects that are more open-ended in their relationship to other artists. The green room with Janette was done very respectfully. It was not Nairy as a visual artist taking over the legacy or what this older modernist designer represents. It was a conversation. Nairy created the conditions for a very mindful collabora- tion. In New York, she also included her collection of Carlo Mollino photographs in the installation. They’re erotic images that the Italian architect and designer made in the 1960s, in secret, with a series of women who he would dress for the occasion in wigs and lingerie. These photoshoots were a performance for one, and that was something that Nairy was interested in. For Performa, we invited the choreographer Maria Hassabi to join in. Together, Nairy and Maria were very interested in seeing how you can mix up, or turn upside down, the quality of some of the spaces in the townhouse. So for instance, the parlor became Janette’s green room, and the ballroom the site for Maria’s very intimate duet—a space where you would usually expect to find group dances, social dances. Every time I see a show by Nairy, I feel as if I learn something new about sculpture and what it means to be a sculptor, whether as I said, that is the relationship to the body, or the relation- ship to matter, materiality and process- es. Also, something that I find unusual and very impressive in Nairy’s work is that she does not really repeat herself, and yet you sense that her approach is consistent. Her engagement with sculpture, formally and conceptually, and her ability to push the limits of the medium makes her work unique.

Nairy Baghramian is this year’s recipient of the Aspen Art Museum’s Award for Art, which is awarded at the museum’s annual ArtCrush Gala. For details of Aspen ArtWeek & the ArtCrush Gala please visit

Laura McLean-Ferris is a writer and curator. She lives in Turin, Italy.









PATRIZIA DANDER Allison, Kerstin, it’s a real pleasure to talk to both of you ahead of your projects at the Aspen Art Museum. Imagining both of you in the same institution is beautiful for many reasons, but first and foremost, because it means that once again you are cohabiting an institutional space. Even if this time you’ll be present with very different and independent projects, this speaks to your long history of sharing a space of thinking and mak- ing. Maybe we start at the beginning. It would be nice to hear from both of you when and where you met and what drew you to one another. KERSTIN BRÄTSCH We met in 2008 at Columbia University; we both did an MFA there. ALLISON KATZ Well, wait, actually, we were in school together, but also just by sheer coin- cidence or you could say, destiny, we were also roommates. I moved into your apartment in December after my first semester. So we got to share domestic space as well as this rigorous university setting. PD So how did you then start col- laborating? I know you’ve always had an intense dialogue, but then you really started working on projects together. KB The first collaboration was It’s Our Pleasure to Serve You, the non- dancing dance group named after New York deli coffee cups. AK I felt an immediate affinity with you, Kerstin, at school and felt really inspired and activated by your practice in ways I didn’t totally understand. From the beginning, so much of our con- versation was natural, but also the way we both questioned things. We had an appetite for the same things, even if our paintings never looked the same—there was always a shared instinct to question. KB Yes, a curiosity. I was really drawn to your questioning of figuration and your ability to express that by analyzing material intuitively and translating it into language. The way you emerged within the painting process, but somehow looked at it from the outside. We didn’t talk so much about painting per se, but it was more about a common approach and interests, looking at things in similar ways. A shared humor or lightness. AK Almost like opposites attract in terms of visual endpoint. I was so drawn to your abstraction and this non- objectivity that I couldn’t ever commit to. I always needed an image to get beyond it, whereas— KB —for me, it was the exact opposite. PD Thinking about your history of working together, I came back to an early video piece of yours with Georgia Sagri and Adele Röder—filmed during a trip to the Bahamas in 2008. It is a beautiful black and white travel video which shows three young women—the two of you and Georgia—walking around, performing in front of the cam- era. I like the casualness of it, and also the slapstick moments. The most striking aspect for me, though, is the role-playing—you take turns to fill the roles of actress, tourist, model, image maker. This way of slipping in and out of different roles that either you want to occupy or that you find yourself in as (female) artists or as painters, really feels like something that’s still very much at play in your respective practices. Could you describe if, and how, this aspect from 15 years ago still figures in your work?

AK That’s such a good question. I feel like the best thing about the dance group (that wasn’t really dance or performance), was its spontaneity. We worked with a script that we could then manipulate. In some ways that was also how we painted. KB We had a very fluid sense of ourselves and what we were doing, and how we would relate to space and each other. Spontaneity was key, but also this mix between authenticity and irony. This trip and essentially the video happened because our friend had to get her visa renewed. It wasn’t like a commentary—we were in the moment. It was almost like a spider’s web where we went in different direc- tions and then came back again. A moment to breathe. And as painters, we opted to work in a medium we didn’t feel at home in. PD One can totally sense the intuitive approach to the situation in the video. But at the same time, there seems to be something very on point about this: what does it mean to be a female performer in front of a camera? And how to undo these roles and attributions? I have a sense that this still holds today in terms of the way both of you think of your practices. How you, Allison, basically, use language and painting, moving in and out of different representational systems. While for you, Kerstin, it’s a lot about who you collaborate with and in what constella- tion. This video already seems to open up a lot of the questions that you are looking at in your work. AK It’s so true. We were very clear from the start that we could balance our doubt with our belief and vice versa. By being together, we could risk not painting. I personally felt that I needed the group to try out these ideas, away from the canvas. I came back to the frame with more bravery and freedom based on this shared experience. Even today, I still take a sense of per- mission from Kerstin’s practice. KB Yet all these questions you just raised, Patrizia, were abstract and not really formulated when we started painting. Within the non-dance group, moving our bodies, using our gestures, our facial expressions—it was so literal. It was all about a certain dispersion of the self. In terms of translating this into painting, my German professor before Columbia was not a painter, so for me it’s still about a relational aspect in painting and how to relate painting to the body, whether it’s psychic, physical, social or mental. All my different ap- proaches, with artisans, collaborators, or within different mediums—it’s still the same investigation. PD As you said, Allison, you come from very different angles in your approaches to painting, despite your many shared interests. You have a strong leaning towards language—us- ing motifs like words, you create an idiosyncratic syntax or even a visual language of its own. AK Every painter begins with their own handwriting, the way they uncon- sciously make a mark. I believe in that, but I also want to challenge it, to push that so-called natural instinct horizon- tally, into as many variations as I can. It’s like seeing how many painters I can be. I’m not striving to consolidate into a single voice. I think of painting as a conversation, a multiplicity of voices driving the act. I also mean that

literally, on a practical level, language generates visual ideas for me. Writing, reading, speaking. The naming that goes along with looking is the ultimate game of creation. Rhyme, wordplay, slips of the tongue, chance, euphemism, quotes … all these everyday poetics open up pictorial possibilities. PD The way you describe mark- making as a tool to embody different ways of painting is, I think, something that is very closely connected to your practice, Kerstin. You literally do just that. By bringing other people in to con- stantly change your practice through the skills and material knowledge they can provide, as master marbler, stucco, mosaic or stained-glass craftsmen. KB In my case, there’s a certain delay and extension of my signature via the craft processes. You work within the same parameters in paint- ing: light and color. But it’s my brush- stroke materialized as stained glass. If I use a tradition like marbling, a liquified painting where you exchange the brushstroke with a drop of ink, that is a questioning of conventional painting practices. Or with the stucco marmo that creates something solid with powder: It’s like the painterly pigment has crystallized and collected time, creating a fossil painting. These artisan practices aren’t painting per se, but when you look at the translational gap of natural forces—heat, water, fossilization—from a painter’s perspective, that changes. You achieve new conditions of painting through a different materiality. PD Talking about self-dispersal, I was really struck by the amount of trust that the two of you have. I think one of the most poignant examples is, when you, Allison, wrote a lecture for and in the name of, Kerstin. What inter- ested you in doing that? AK For me, it was an opportunity to really put into practice this idea of sharing and to see how it is both a challenge and an opportunity for expan- sion—to really believe that your voice is made up of other voices. Through love and trust, one can take a risk and see what new thoughts emerge. I was really grateful because it’s actually quite a novel thing to take on someone else’s voice. I felt entrusted with that weight but was also really inspired by speaking not as myself. There’s a lot of freedom and humor in that. It loosens up ideas of self and it demonstrates how ideas exceed any one person or moment. Kerstin and I could be attracted to the same thing but through our different embodied experience, we will do some- thing different. So even the idea of an idea gets undone, and becomes much more ephemeral and giving. PD Kerstin, can you talk about your experience of working with so many different people in so many different ways? KB My art-making is a space where different practices come together—that extends into different media and different people. As Allison just mentioned, it’s based on trust that builds something which is almost ineffable or unpredictable, because one plus one is not two. One plus one becomes a third entity. With my collaborators I have a shared life experience, and they have to be as willing as I am to walk into the unknown; to be able to see a new perspective. I’ve been painting for decades, but I walk into the moment

Former college roommates, artists Kerstin Brätsch and Allison Katz have a long history of sharing spaces for thinking and making throughout their careers and collaborations, as they discuss with curator Patrizia Dander.

Opposite Stills from Kerstin Brätsch, Allison Katz, Adele Röder, Georgia Sagri, Bahamas Composition, It’s Our Pleasure To Serve You , 2008. Courtesy: the artists




with the painting as if I’ve never painted before and may discover something unfamiliar in the familiar. PD In closing, can we talk about the projects that you have coming up for the Aspen Art Museum? In very differ- ent ways, these rely on either imagined or actual conversations or collabora- tions. In your instance, Allison, your research into Pompeii, while your pro- posal Kerstin, relates to your history of collaborative making. Allison, what are you currently thinking you might be doing? AK First, I just wanted to say, the fact that we are exhibiting at the same time is a coincidence. And I feel this is one of the gifts of our friendship, that these things happen, whether or not we even plan them. I love that. In Aspen I am going to be research- ing artworks from local, personal col- lections to create an exhibition around origin stories of display based on the design and use of Ancient Roman houses. I am looking at the ways in which certain ideas of identity, framing and value originated in this mixed-up use of domestic, public and mercantile space. I am hoping to be able to borrow fragments of frescoes and other objects from the archives of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, in Italy, where I was recently a Fellow, to transplant them into a contemporary context and think about how artworks are relational and can be seen anew within different conceptual frameworks. Based on this structure, I will also present my own new paintings, created in response to this archeological research, but which dovetail with pre-existing sub- jects and motifs, since these themes have been preoccupying me since I first started painting! KB Hearing you explain this is fascinating, your starting point is the remnants of mosaics and ruins, while I’m using that technique. My rooftop commission takes up the idea of our daily profane space, the home, and how it gets extended outwards, almost into a transcendental realm: I’m work- ing on mosaic benches for people to sit on and stained-glass constructions for climbing plants and nesting birds. I consider the mosaic a traversable painting facing the sky, allowing body, nature and art to merge into each other. The lifespan of the artwork can stretch into a different paradigm of time by including natural life. AK Exactly. I think there are so many affinities just through things that we’ve always been interested in, but in this context, it’s almost exaggerated in a really exciting way. PD And I think that is really beautiful in relation to Pompeii. Through the volcano erupting, the city was conserved. If this natural disaster had not occurred, we might not even know about Pompeii because it might have fallen apart and rotted. It really raises the question of, what is the life of art? It feels very pertinent to our time— these questions of preservation, in view of the energy crisis and climate change. I see a whole firework of connections popping up between the two projects you have in mind.

Below, top Allison Katz, The Cockfather , 2021. Courtesy: the artist Below, bottom Allison Katz Pompeii Circumstance (Hippolytus) , 2023 artist’s posters shot in situ at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, January 2023. Courtesy: the artist and the Archaeological Park of Pompeii; photograph: Amedeo Benestante

To receive news of Kerstin Brätsch and Allison Katz’s upcoming projects and keep up-to-date with all our news, sign up to our newsletter via our website

Patrizia Dander is Head of Curatorial Department at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany.




Below, top Kerstin Brätsch,

Single Brushstrokes in Lead (Elephant) , 2019. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Heidi Bohnenkamp

Below, bottom Kerstin Brätsch,

Stone Mimicry , 2021. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Andrea Rossetti





“A Lover’s Discourse”, a new series of artist-led presentations opening this summer at the museum, juxtaposes recent works by early-career artists with companion pieces they have selected from private collections around Aspen. Participants include Guglielmo Castelli, Chase Hall, Stanislava Kovalcikova, Zeinab Saleh, Issy Wood and Ulala Imai, who talked about her dialogue with image-making, past and present, to Terence Trouillot.


When I made this work, I was planning an exhibition at Nonaka-Hill in Los Angeles. The front of the gallery is marked by a retro electric sign, a remnant from its former use as a dry cleaners. It was my first solo exhibition in the United States and this sign made a strong impression on me. When I imagined the work I could see through the sign, I wanted to paint big “Lovers” paintings. This show in the US led me to actively work on large paintings. TT The exhibition in Aspen is titled after Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments [1977], a theoreti- cal book looking at “fragments”, as it were, of love. Can you discuss how your work speaks to this idea? UI In the chapter of the book, “ souvenir / remembrance”, I was very

When I put them side by side and let them sit on the branches of the trees, they gazed into the distance. Some- times they looked positive, sometimes they looked lost in reminiscence. This is a theme I have been working on for several years, changing it up from time to time. TT I know a lot of your work is inspired by your own childhood and you often paint still lifes of your own childrens’ toys. Is the series “Lovers” an example of this and if so, what is your relationship to these characters from Peanuts ? UI When I started painting toys, it began with a display cabinet showing a small collection of souvenirs that my grandmother, who enjoyed traveling in Europe every year, had collected little

TERENCE TROUILLOT Ulala, can you tell me a little bit about your contribution to the exhibition “A Lover’s Discourse”, on view at the Aspen Art Museum this summer. The work you’re presenting is aptly titled Lovers [2023] and depicts the Peanuts characters, Charlie Brown and Lucy van Pelt, suspended in a thicket of trees. I know this is an ongoing series so I’m curious to know what inspired you to make this work? ULALA IMAI The first time I worked on the tree motif was in my yard. My garden is not colorful. It’s simple, with just a row of green trees. I came up with the idea of putting Charlie there in a green outfit and Lucy in a red outfit, then had the idea of lining them up.

by little over time. It was a series of various characters brought together in one setting called “Gathering”, which I have continued to paint for many years. “Lovers” was originally inspired by a vintage Steiff monkey I had in my collection and a yellow bear, which I don’t know where it came from. I paint- ed them together and at first, the series was called “Hold”, as I showed them play-fighting. Somewhere along the way, they became a mysterious couple: one of them restrains the other, who some- how appears resigned to this act. The Peanuts series started when I bought Charlie and Lucy soft toys in a flea market somewhere on my travels. I was drawn to the combination of red and green outfits and the simplicity of the smiley faces.

Opposite, top Ulala Imai in her studio in Kanagawa, Japan, May 2023

Photography Keita Goto

Opposite, bottom Ulala Imai, Lovers , 2023. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Kei Okano

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online