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In Work, a multi-disciplinary exhibition by Zarouhie Abdalian, the boundary between nature and the made is taken as subject. Across the exhibition, Abdalian meditates on labor in its most essential forms. In her emphasis on the impact of early tools on the efficiency of work Abdalian aims to highlight the moment at which, through technologically assisted labor, humankind began to distance itself from nature.
The main gallery is given over to work that riffs on minimalism and the notion of the ready-made. From Chalk Mine Hollow (all works 2017), a series of slab-like reliefs with aggressively tooled surfaces, hanging on the perimeter walls while pieces from the brunt series (heavily oxidized steel tool heads) stand atop slender white plinths in the gallery’s center. Set against one another brunt and from Chalk Mine Hollow stand as evidence of opposite ends of a primitive sort of work; brunt as tool and from Chalk Mine Hollow as tooled. Abdalian here draws attention to the moment of production itself, complicating ideological systems in which the products of labor are afforded primacy over production.
Elsewhere, Abdalian’s work engages installation and media art, particularly to hazard functions, events, an array of objects bent and ripped into their current form through some catastrophic failure, and threnody for the millions killed by silicosis, a sparse sound installation playing the dull thuds and pings of one object striking another.
While the works in the exhibition succeed in prompting open-ended questions on work in its various guises, ultimately, they fail to communicate any clear thesis. Focused on the index of work itself, as represented through tools and tooling, Abdalian suppresses the human role in work. In her adherence to a minimalist approach Abdalian obscures the actual implications of work on humanity that she sets out to explore.
Zarouhie Abdalian: Work runs July 30–September 2, 2017 at LAXART (7000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038).