Vartan Avakian, Winning Artist, Abraaj Group Art Prize 2013
A Very Short History of Tall Men, Gold and synthetic glass, dimensions variable
‘A Very Short History of Tall Men’ commemorates the forgotten leaders of failed coups d’état. Reconstituted from the minimal archival traces they left behind, these almost important figures are presented in a form proper for a commemoration of power: a statue of the man, standing tall, proud and triumphant. However, though these statues are cast in gold and are photographically precise, they measure in at a diminutive five centimetres; their toy soldier-like stature indexes both the men’s failed attempts to seize power and their subsequent near erasure from historical record. Entombed in clear acrylic spheres they float like apparitions in a crystal ball doomed to forever roll, head over heel, here and there. These ambiguous objects are simultaneously counter-monuments that critique both the impulse to monumentalise and the forms it inspires, and modest monuments, sincere commemorations of failure itself.
Vartan Avakian is a multidisciplinary artist, working with installation, video and photography, and has exhibited throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US. He is a founding member of the art collective Atfal Ahdath and lives and works in Beirut. Avakian is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens/Thessaloniki.