Residual Histories

Solo exhibition at Kalfayan Galleries  20 September 2018 to 10 November 2018 

Vartan Avakian’s work stems from an understanding of data as an inscription. This data exists in sculptural form and is fossilized over time. Consequently, memory is seen as an activity of excavating and deciphering data from traces and remains.

In Residual Histories, Avakian examines printed books as sculptural objects which preserve information. These symbols of history, imbued with the weight of culture and authority, are both unique and reproducible. Avakian devises a series of protocols, procedures, and rituals to extract and bring to light their many hidden layers of incidental inscriptions and mar- kings reminiscent of a palimpsest. Not only does he reveal these layers, but in his installations he separates them from their previous form and converts them into new sculptural fossils.



Theatre of Measurement at Kunstverein München

Latest rotation of  Theatre of Measurement opens Friday 15 September 2017

Vartan Avakian . Teresa Solar Abboud . Piotr Bosacki . Stanley Brouwnm . Liudvikas Buklys . Nina Canell . Atttila Csörgő . Antanas Gerlikas . Silvia Hell . Rebecca Erin Moran . Falke Pisano . Annaïk Lou Pitteloud . Jonas von Ostrowski

Kunstverein München presents Theatre of Measurement – an ongoing group exhibition in (and out of) the Schaufenster am Hofgarten. The curators have invited Munich-based artist Jonas von Ostrowski to operate as the exhibition’s scenographer to accentuate the physical structure of the Schaufenster and to responsively frame and support a selection of objects by international artists. These will be presented at specific intervals throughout the year within the Schaufenster, but also within the Kunstverein’s Kino, its Foyer, or in other off-site locations and times.

Esma’/Listen at Beirut Art Center

Lawrence Abu Hamdan . Francis Alÿs . Vartan Avakian . Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz . Moyra Davey . Melissa Dubbin and Aaron Davidson . Pierre Huyghe. Alvin Lucier . Christian Marclay . Olaf Nicolai . Sharif Sehnaoui . Jessica Warboys . Cynthia Zaven

Curated by Marcella Lista and Marie Muracciole

27 April to 21 August 2016
Starting 27 April, Beirut Art Center will be open until 10pm every Wednesday.

About the exhibition
Beirut Art Center presents Esma’/Listen, a journey in the works of artists and composers developing contemporary forms of listening. Since the ear does not have an eyelid, our acoustic sensitivity exposes us to sound before anything else. Listening is the counterpart of this porosity of the senses: it is an act; it samples or filters the sound material that we receive; it may be immersive, but is also likely to detail, reproduce and translate sounds by means of our analytical capabilities, as well as by way of recording and amplification techniques.

At a time when audiovisual media is increasingly omnipresent and efficient, the act of listening itself turns into an object of artistic research. It is akin to a project, an experiment or a critical practice. The artists and composers gathered here use sensory modalities in different manners, in order to describe or produce a particular state of reception or interpretation of sound, of the beliefs it entails, the information it conveys, and the individual and collective territories thus determined. The works in this exhibition are articulated around the notions of silence and enlargement of the acoustic spectrum, whether to experiment with the limits of perception or to put recording techniques to the test. They involve different gestures inspired by a practical or imaginary experience of sound, aimed at the production or reproduction of this experience.

Collapsing Clouds of Gas and Dust

From the 22nd of October until the 12th of December at Marfa’ Gallery.

Dust is soil. Dust is pollen. Dust is burnt meteorite particles. Dust is also hair, tears, blood, sweat and shed skin cells.Sites of history are heavy with dust.They attract us with the weight of this dust: this debris.

Collapsing Clouds of Gas and Dust is comprised of works made from the dust collected in an abandoned photo studio located in the Barakat Building. The Barakat Building, now “Beit Beirut”, is a historical landmark, and the site of a future museum for the history and memory of the city.

The first work, from which the exhibition takes its title, is a series of crystals created from this dust. In reconstructing imperceptible biological debris, such as microscopic hair and skin particles found in the dust, into physical objects, dust figures as ‘remains’ as a material index of human and non-human activity that is continuously accumulating on objects and in spaces. In this sense, the act of memorialization is proposed primarily as an act of delineating the very space of remains. Monumentality, in this sense, inheres not in the scale of the structure or in acts of ‘museification’, but in the material and historical weight that has accumulated and settled over time.

Suspended Silver is a photographic series made from silver particles collected from found film debris. Over time, damaged film negatives had lost some of their light-sensitive silver crystals on which the image is formed. By finding and printing these silver particles – the material equivalent of pixels the composition of information that produced the original photographs is reshaped into opaque remains that bear the physical and formal traces of the original photographs, all the while rendering them remote and cryptic relics.

The iteration of the project presented here features two sets of works that deploy chemical procedures that synthesize archaeological and narrative strands of information ossified in biological debris into artifacts. The crystals are produced by creating conditions for chemical elements found in the dust to form compounds, which in turn are stimulated to form crystals. The process utilizes the natural tendency for certain elements to form objects; objects that have a predetermined shape and color, yet which are ‘interrupted’ by impurities found in the dust mixture. Silver particles were separated to form the material base for the photographic series. The light-sensitive silver particles that were once the medium on which photographic information was inscribed, are considered inscriptions in their own right and are printed as photographs. 

Collapsing Clouds of Gas and Dust is not an exhumation, nor an excavation. It is an almost technological exploration in fabricating objects that embody the scripts solidified in matter. It proposes an ‘original’ understanding of memory as a physical, yet impersonal trace, as well as a form waiting to be decoded and reinscribed.