The exhibition brings together new iterations of Aivazian’s long-term research surrounding surveillance strategies in public space, and includes a new presentation of the eponymous video essay, All of your Stars are but Dust on my Shoes, in which Aivazian opens up reflections upon the use of light to spot, invigilate and make visible; as well as its use as a tool to divert attention.
Tracing the public administration of light and darkness as a policing strategy, the work focuses as much on where light is shed as on what is purposely left in the dark. The video is comprised of found footage and material from the artist’s own phone, creating an associative genealogy from whale oil lamps to gas lanterns to LED bulbs; from blackouts to curfews. Layering, splicing, and confronting these disparate sources of sound and image, Aivazian generates a sensorial meditation on how the fundamentals of human vision - light hitting the retina - have been mechanised into tools that capture our movements, be it in everyday life or on screen.
Alongside All of your Stars are but Dust on my Shoes will be Aivazian’s recent visual essay Prometheus, 2019. Mobilising a mode of non-linear narrative address, Prometheus draws geopoetic parallels between two events, both occurring in the early 1990s: taking the first Gulf War as one point of departure, and the presence of the United States basketball team - nicknamed the Dream Team - at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona as another. The work presents paradigm shifts in hard and soft power, exploring how fire has been mobilised since its theft from the heights of Mount Olympus to its unleashing on the oil fields of Kuwait as Iraq withdrew in the face of the United States. Fire travels through the work as a protagonist; tracing the long history of technicity and its weaponisation.
The work focuses at hyperlocal levels whilst mapping these techniques’ common threads as they cross fluidly between national borders on a global scale. Between public lighting and fire, sport is a fertile terrain for Aivazian to think through broader social conditions; across cities such as Paris, Beirut or Baghdad, where public sports stadia often become testing grounds for technological forms of control enabled by a juridical state of exception. Working across geographies and media, Prometheus therefore traces an alternate path through Aivazian’s wider body of recent research, in which he tracks state apparatuses of control and the effects of these power structures as they are manifested through technology and filters of subjectivity.
All of your Stars are but Dust on my Shoes is commissioned as part of The Consortium Commissions, a project initiated by Mophradat. Every two years, Mophradat creates a network of international collaborating partner institutions that collectively select, produce and present ambitious new artworks by artists from the Arab world. All of the Lights, the first presentation of Haig Aivazian’s new project, was presented by The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in 2021. The second iteration opened at The Showroom, London on 25 January 2022.
All of your Stars are but Dust on my Shoes and Prometheus play alternately in the installation, with eight loops per day:
12-12.40pm / 12.40-1.20pm / 1.20-2pm / 2-2.40pm
2.40-3.20pm / 3.20-4pm / 4-4.40pm / 4.40-5.20pm
Haig Aivazian is an artist living in Beirut.
Working across a range of media and modes of address, he delves into the ways in which power embeds, affects and moves people, objects, animals, landscape and architecture. Aivazian explores apparatuses of control and sovereignty at work in sports, museums, the office and music.
Selected international solo and group exhibitions include All of the Lights, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2020, within The Consortium Commissions, an initiative of Mophradat; The Space Between Classrooms at The Swiss Institute, New York, 2021; Soft Power, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA, 2019-20; Home Works 8: A Forum on Cultural Practices, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, Lebanon, 2019; Second Hand, Jameel Arts Center, Dubai, 2019; From Ear to Ear to Eye: Sounds and Stories From Across the Arab World, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK, 2018; Home Beirut. Sounding the Neighbors, MAXXI, Rome, Italy, 2017-18; Precariat’s Meeting, Ming Contemporary Art Museum (McaM), Shanghai, China, 2017; and 1440 Sunsets per 24 hours, Kadist, Paris, 2017.
Aivazian has participated in biennials and triennials internationally. His work is currently included in Soft Water Hard Stone, the fifth New Museum Triennial, New York, 2021-22; and previously has contributed to Afterglow, Yokohama Trienniale, Yokohama, Japan, 2020; Not New Now, 6th Marrakech Biennale, Marrakech, Morocco, 2016; The Grand Balcony, La Biennale de Montréal (BNLMTL), Canada, 2016; SALTWATER: a Theory of Thought Forms, the 14th Istanbul Biennial, 2015, in which Aivazian worked with Beyoğlu Üç Horan (Yerrortutyun) Armenian Church Choir; the National pavilion of Armenia at the Venice Biennale, 2015; and Videobrasil, São Paulo, 2013 and 2017.
Aivazian is currently Artistic Director of the Beirut Art Center, where he edits The Derivative (المشتق), an online publication launched in October 2020.
His writing has been featured by publications including INCITE Journal of Experimental Media, Afterall, Manifesta Journal, Arab Studies Journal, Adbusters and Bidoun.
theshowroom.org // haigaivazian.com // beirutartcenter.org // thederivative.org