Art Basel 2021

For Art Basel Statements 2021, Marfa’ is proud to present a solo project by Vartan Avakian

A Sign For Things To Come, 2021 Vartan Avakian

Sugar as a memory.
Salt as an image.
Skin as a witness.
Hair as a timeline.
Light as a reflection of all that is seen and unseen.

Vartan Avakian’s work stems from a reading of data as stains and scratches: a series of inscriptions that exist in sculptural form and are fossilized over time.

In A Sign for Things to Come, Avakian addresses the volatility and fragility of neon signs, against a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty in Lebanon and the world. A neon sign, loud and bold at first sight, is much more intricate on closer inspection and should be handled with caution. It is a combination of gas, glass and a conduit of electricity moulded in mysterious ways to form a symbol. In these drastically changing times, corporations, small and large businesses are on the edge of bankruptcy; Their neon signs stand as relics, waiting to be removed, and later destroyed or somehow preserved.

In this project, Avakian continues his practice of making artefacts for future archaeology, in a series of fossilized neon lights suspended in wax-like material. Here, a number of found indiscernible pieces of neon tubes that once formed letters, numbers or words, are collected and preserved. Made from linguistically unintelligible remnants of signs, these sculptures stand as cryptic symbols, ossified in fossils to be discovered and decoded in the future.