A Brief Look: Zarouhie Abdalian

With the potentially overwhelming number of Prospect.3 exhibitions on view, Raina Benoit provides a brief weekly account of select P.3 sites. This week: Zarouhie Abdalian at the New Orleans African American Museum.

Installation view of Zarouhie Abdalian's Chanson du Ricochet, 2014, at the New Orleans African American Museum. Courtesy the artist.

Zarouhie Abdalian
New Orleans African American Museum
1418 Governor Nicholls Street
October 25, 2014–January 25, 2015

Zarouhie Abdalian’s installation Chanson du ricochet is a study in moderation, a pleasant surprise given contemporary culture's seeming predilection toward spectacle and excess. Following the brick path that wraps behind the New Orleans African American Museum, a male voice can be heard through the cottages and former slave quarters. The man lists tools, both commonplace and industrial, in no particular order. Forceps, pistol, press, screw gun, compass, sandpaper, devil’s claw, dipstick, weedwacker… Abdalian uses voice, stripped down and ephemeral, to conjure the history of the site and its living present—a spell cast by the rhythmic repetition of words that build and bounce throughout the architecture. Additions of mirror serve as modern ornament that sparingly alters the site’s aged exteriors. Temperate interventions; here words are a powerful sculptural substitute.