For her first institutional show in Italy, organized by Fondazione Furla at the GAM – Galleria d'Arte Moderna, in Milan, Nairy Baghramian began with the specific urban setting of the GAM, that is, an English garden open to adults only when accompanied by children. The contrasting impressions created by a context that evokes the reassuring and playful world of childhood, while at the same time engendering a sense of frustration through its limited accessibility, provide the inspiration for Misfits.
By combining the idea of play as an educational tool with reflection on the experience of disappointment and inadequacy, Baghramian has created a series of large-scale sculptures, formally designed to inhabit both the interior and exterior spaces of the museum. From childhood, we are taught to assemble elements that dovetail perfectly and hence to develop a way of thinking according to which things must necessarily fit one another. Baghramian's Misfits negate this alleged coincidence: their forms do not dovetail perfectly; on the contrary, they offer the experience of error as the only possible one, inviting us to discover beauty precisely in their imperfect juxtaposition. This "incorrect" portrait and the sculptures with imperfect fits, then, are not based on pre-established and generalized aesthetic canons, but foresee the possibility of error, inadequacy, and failure. They reveal the beauty of these experiences, which are part of the individual's formation, by showing that they can find a raison d'être even as formal manifestations.
This volume, featuring a commissioned essay by Manuela Ammer and conversation between the artist and curator Bruna Roccasalva, follows and expands on Baghramian's Misfits project. On the front and back cover, the last (or first) work in the show, Jumbled Alphabet, a photographic portrait of a child in which the girl's frown contradicts the child portrait genre stereotype, reminding us that any typification and classification stems from constructions and superstructures.