Neon Signs for Bourj Hammoud

Vartan Avakian

Vartan Avakian installed a red neon sign on the roof of the previously unmarked gallery building spelling SFEIR-SEMLER in the Devangari script. Visible for miles, it faces the Armenian neighborhood of Burj Hammoud, where the newly emigrated south Asian community has taken root. Inside the first room of the gallery hang two more signs by Avakian, one in Armenian and one in Arabic, one turned on and one turned off— both simply spelling out the name of the gallery, subtly demonstrating that identification is always divisive, common ground displaced by property and languages neither neutral nor equivalent.