Vartan Avakian
Collapsing Clouds of Gas and Dust, 2014

Public Sculpture
Location: Dubai, Shindagha Heritage Village

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.