Vartan Avakian 2017/2018
Vartan Avakian (born 1977 in Byblos, Lebanon, where he lives and works) employs video, installation, sculpture, photography and other media in order to examine practices of cultural production and commemoration. In his works he oftentimes uses natural material, modifying and recombining it to objects, which both represent the preserved and the new. The series ‘Collapsing Clouds of Gas and Dust’ consists of crystals made from residual dust, which Avakian found in historic sites. By looking at dust as a material index of activity, the project examines the relation between memory, monumentality and its materialization. In ‘A Very Short History of Tall Men’ the artist portraits leaders of failed coups d’état from archival material, presenting them as miniature statues, cast in gold and entombed in clear acrylic balls. As well as these objects seize characteristics of traditional monuments they reject their representative status, likewise embodying the failure of the historic personae. It is this ambiguity that marks Avakian’s works and proposes a broader understanding for the notion of diverse information captured and preserved in material culture.
Vartan Avakian studied 'Architecture and Urban Culture' at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, and 'Communication Arts' at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. He is a founding member of the artist collective 'Atfal Ahdath' and a member of the 'Arab Image Foundation'. His work has been exhibited in Beirut and in numerous international solo and group exhibitions. Avakian was awarded with the Abraaj Group Art Prize 2013.
Exhibition at Künstlerhaus Bethanien:
Vartan Avakian - "All That Is Seen and Unseen"
25 May to 17 June 2018
Opening 24 May 2018, 7pm
In his current project All That is Seen and Unseen at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, 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 markings 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.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue (english):
Leykam, Daniela/ Müllerschön, Nicola/ Tannert, Christoph (Hrsg.): Vartan Avakian. All that is seen and unseen, with an essay by Merve Bedir, Dortmund: Verlag Kettler, 2019