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 gender 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.”
Hassabi joins this new chapter for Performa 19, and the work naturally becomes Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre). In Hassabi’s work, prolonged stillness over juxtaposed visual references often opens up rich associations that complicate the relationship between bodies and images. In what the choreographer calls a “velocity of deceleration,” Hassabi distills movement and stretches time to create liminal objects that sit across multiple mediums—dance, photography, sculpture. For Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre), Hassabi recomposes her most recent works, TOGETHER (2019) and FIGURES (2019), for the townhouse’s unique setting to produce an atmosphere where slowness and stillness intensify sensitivity. Curated by Charles Aubin for Performa. Co-commissioned by Performa and 1014 and co-produced by The Kitchen, with additional support from Marian Goodman Gallery.
Wednesday, November 6, 7pm
Thursday, November 7, 7pm
Friday, November 8, 7pm
Saturday, November 9, 5pm
Sunday, November 10, 5pm
Tickets go on sale at www.performa-arts.org on September 26. This event takes place at 1014 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY.