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Zarouhie Abdalian / MATRIX 249

August 2, 2013 - September 29, 2013

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Zarouhie Abdalian: Having Been Held Under the Sway, 2011 (installation view, Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011, Istanbul, Turkey); tactile transducers, infrasonic test tones, plumb bob, site-specific room; dimensions variable. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

MATRIX 249 showcases the work of Oakland-based artist Zarouhie Abdalian (b. 1982), an artist whose work often responds to the specific attributes of a given location, architectural setting, or social landscape. Abdalian typically employs modest materials to produce subtle conceptual or formal effects that stage an alteration, or a shift of perception, within the immediate environment. Her work inspires careful examination of its surroundings, as it typically resides on the threshold of visibility.

For MATRIX 249, her first solo exhibition in a museum, the artist has created new sculptures specifically for Gallery A that explore the interrelated, yet distinct, states of noise, silence, and the absence of sound. In one, a bell rings continuously in a vacuum, so that, while visible, the sonorous effects are not audible. In another, hammers audibly articulate the sound and space of a hollow, opaque, rectilinear shape. In these works Abdalian challenges what is perceptible and understood through multiple physical senses.

Abdalian received her M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in 2010 and since then has exhibited solo projects and participated in several group exhibitions, both in the Bay Area and abroad. She made a site-specific architectural work for the international exhibition Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 that also utilized the properties of sound. Modifying the architecture of the biennial building, she affixed transducers to the backs of the gallery’s drywall, causing the room to literally vibrate—a sensation that could be both heard and felt; a plumb bob hanging from the far wall rattled against the surface, rendering the vibrations of the wall visible. More recently, Abdalian was awarded SFMOMA’s 2012 SECA Art Award; as part of that exhibition, she will have a sonorous public artwork on view in downtown Oakland beginning in September.


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Zarouhie Abdalian / MATRIX 249 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.