Haig Aivazian artist talk & screenings
Thkio Ppalies artist-led space is thrilled to announce the upcoming artist talk by Haig Aivazian along with screenings of a selection of the artist’s recent films on Monday 3rd of October, at 19:30. Starting with the screening of Prometheus (2019) and All of Your Stars Are but Dust on My Shoes (2021), an artist talk will follow in conversation with Marina Christodoulidou. The event will be concluded with Aivazian’s latest animation-film THEY MAY OWN THE LANTERNS BUT WE HAVE THE LIGHT, EPISODE 1: HOME ALONE, produced by and presented at this year’s Berlin Biennale. 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’s practice further explores apparatuses of control and sovereignty at work in sports, museums, the office and music.
The first film to be screened, All of Your Stars Are but Dust on My Shoes (2021), tracks the public administration of light and darkness as an essential policing tool. The video moves between cities like New York and Paris, with the artist’s native Beirut setting the central pulse. Creating an associative genealogy that moves from whale oil lamps and gas lanterns to LED bulbs and from blackouts to curfews, the video is comprised of found footage and material from the artist’s own phone. Layering, splicing, and confronting disparate kinds of sound and image, Aivazian generates a sensorial meditation on how the fundamentals of human vision—light hitting the retina—were mechanized into tools that capture our movements, be it in everyday life or on screen.
In the second video, Prometheus (2019), fire is the main trans-historical motor, as it observes two paradigm shifts in American hard and soft power: the United States’ assault on Iraq in 1990 and the gold-medal-winning “Dream Team” of the 1992 Olympics, populated by NBA superstars. In an agile flow of found footage, Aivazian streams and cuts between ancient fires, resource extraction, and technological warfare—following a fire only momentarily contained, only partially domesticated, but repeatedly mobilized, since its theft from the heights of Mount Olympus to its unleashing on the oil fields of Kuwait.
These two videos enhance Aivazian’s attraction towards found footage, allowing for stories to unfold through textures of sound, divergent image resolutions and orientations, and evolving forms of machinic visualizations. In these works, history is an omnipresent hum, conjuring and bumping up against degraded futures and persistent efforts of survival. Through his mode of editing and juxtaposing without assigning hierarchy to the different sources of imagery, the artist seeks to mobilize affect and analysis and channel them through everyday forms.
THEY MAY OWN THE LANTERNS BUT WE HAVE THE LIGHT, EPISODE 1: HOME ALONE portrays a dark night, illuminated only by stars, where a cartoon owl is perched on the branch of an old tree in a graveyard. Through a car driving during a blackout, the headlights animate the city, the shadows of its extinguished streetlights dancing on the facades of dilapidated buildings. The city is a processor, organizing the flow of all things living and dead. Pulsating light brings objects to life; everything is in motion. The architecture is smooth, liquid, smart. The city is also a grinding halt, screeching brakes, and burnt tires. It is smashed windows and broken teeth, lockups and lights out. The relationship between artificial light, motion capture, and crowd control is, like so much hard science, phantasmagoria amok. This is a film about the alchemy of light and the rhythms of things made to flow. Here, ghosts chase cops out of town, and labor and leisure shadow one another in elaborate labyrinthine infrastructures.
Haig Aivazian is an artist living in Beirut and is the Artistic Director of the Beirut Art Center.