Vartan Avakian is a multidisciplinary artist, working with installation, video and photography. He studied Architecture and Urban Culture at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the CCCB, Barcelona; and Communication Arts at the Lebanese American University. Avakian has exhibited throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US. Recent exhibitions include Transmediale 2K+12, Berlin (2012); Sharjah Biennial X, Sharjah (2011); 5th Indonesian International Video Festival, Jakarta (2011); 33rd Cinemed, Montpellier (2011); The 2nd Antakya Biennial, Antakya (2011); Home Works V, Beirut (2010); (2010); Journées de la Photographie 10, Damascus, (2010) and Art Dubai, Dubai (2010). He has shown at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012); The Sultan Gallery, Kuwait (2012); Wallach Art Gallery, New York (2012); Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York (2011); South London Gallery, London (2011); Can Felipa, Barcelona (2011); Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne (2011); ACVIC, Vic (2011); Cer Modern, Ankara (2011); The Cube, Taipei (2011); Museum Alex Mylona, Athens (2011); Al Hoash, Jerusalem (2011); The Goethe-Institut, Cairo (2011); Beirut Art Center, Beirut (2010); Townhouse Gallery, Cairo (2010); Tokyo Wonder Site, Tokyo (2009) and Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Beirut (2009). Avakian is a founding member of the art collective Atfal Ahdath. He lives and works in Beirut.
About works / performance

I like glitches and imperfections and the tension in times of transition. In the interactive installation The Time of Heroes (2007), a place of friction is created between childhood and adolescence, war and peace, as well as heroes and villains. The work is in effect a fully-functioning pinball machine designed with a "game" that is set during the late 80s and early 90s, a period of transition between war-torn and post-war Lebanon. The installation displays a constellation of banal elements from that epoch as they unfold into a surreal mechanical game of action film-like scenarios, where everyone can become the "Hero". These uneasy and volatile times are an important examination point of social perception.
Through my studies my practice has become firmly rooted within the framework of architecture and urban culture. In particular the political formation of cities and identities have become a focal point. For the past years I have been researching Lebanese action films in order to trace and understand the ever-changing image of Beirut and the urban and political environment in Lebanon. The Revenge of Geography (2011) maps the fictional world created by Lebanese action films. It creates a new topography of Beirut, which hints at the city's geographic disintegration and political reconfiguration during the war. Within this context fiction and reality are interdependent and often inextricable.

My interest also lies in the process and spectacle of  production and how this manufacturing of commodities, identities, and aspirations resurface in popular culture. In the video ShortWave/LongWave (2009), I play with the persistent image of the New York skyline as seen in films and TV series: an idealized image of urbanity. The work creates a tense confusion between Beirut's urban silhouette on the horizon and that of New York.

I attempt to utilize exaggeration and satire in a solemn way, using humor  as a vehicle to deconstruct dominant discourses and perceptions in the Middle East, and is thus playfully a strategy of agency, surprise and ambiguity.