Collapsing Clouds of Gas and Dust
Category: “InVisible” Public Art Commission
Monumentality resides in scale. It resides in the scale of residue the monument generates. The power evoked by a monumental structure emanates from this residue, from this dust. Dust is soil. Dust is pollen. Dust is fibers. Dust is also shed skin cells, hair, tears and sweat. This dust generated by the monument’s ‘’life’’ holds its aura.
Monuments, as the Latin origin of the word suggests, are structures that evoke remembrance and commemoration. They are inscriptions of memory on matter. Monumentality is characterized in people’s adherence to the power of a structure.
Vartan Avakian encapsulates the aura of monuments in natural sculptural forms, taking the shape of crystallized minerals. From Dubai’s monumental structures, the artist collected natural and biological residue to preserve as registers of memory on matter. For this alchemy process, the artist collected water from Burj Khalifa Lake, a commonly identified architectural monument in Dubai. Each body of water holds a unique residue due to the different environmental and human pollutants, so to speak. This unique residual mix is collected as a register of monumentality and crystallized into small sculptures of natural stones and minerals.
The work will emanate the supposed aura of monumentality of Burj Khalifa. This scientific and poetic process questions monumentality in public spaces as something both utterly visible and invisible at the same time.
In collaboration with:
American University of Beirut – Department of Chemistry
Lead Chemist: Ghinwa Darwish at Dr.Pierre Karam Lab
Courtesy of the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki
Vartan Avakian (born in Lebanon, 1977) is a visual artist based in Beirut. He studied Communication Arts at the Lebanese American University and has a Masters in Architecture and Urban Culture from Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. He works with video, photography, installation and more recently natural material. His practice is often related to mundane aesthetics with a focus on urban culture and is comprised of long-term research related projects. Avakian is a founding member of the art collective Atfal Ahdath and a member of the Arab Image Foundation. Recent exhibitions include Art Dubai; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Transmerdiale 2K + 12, Berlin; Wallach Art Gallery, New York and Sharjah Biennial X. He is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.