In 2010, Hrag Vartanian curated #TheSocialGraph (2010), which was the first exploration of social media art. The exhibition was centered at Outpost in Ridgewood, Queens. In 2013, he co-curated Walking Into the Dashboard with Ben Valentine for Hyperallergic and Tumblr. It was an exhibition, catalogue, and symposium exploring how Tumblr is being used as an artistic medium by artists and creatives around the world.
In 2016, he curated The Arch of My Eye’s Orbit at BAM, which included commissions from Kamrooz Aram and Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and works by Slavs and Tatars and Anila Quayyam Agha, while in 2017, he launched his 10-year inquiring into Ottoman Studio Photography and its contemporary legacy with Fixed Point Perspective at Minerva Projects, an incubator space in Denver.
- Micro-retrospective of Sharon Louden’s mid-career drawings as part of Origins exhibition
As part of the Origins installation at Signs and Symbols (102 Forsyth Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan), he curated a mini-retrospective of Sharon Louden’s drawings from the late 1990s and the early aughts, a period she concentrated on formalist ideas and forms. The foundation of Origins has been the five plus year friendship between the two friends, and comes out of Hrag’s examination of the similarities in Sharon’s work across decades.
The result is a fresh look at an older body of work in a framework that echoes the pair’s current collaborations.
- New Wave Documentaries series at Chautauqua Cinema, Chautauqua, NY (July 24–25, 2019)
A two-day program for Chautauqua art school students and the general public, featuring moderated conversations after each film. Featured films were Cameraperson (2016) by Kirsten Johnson and Wild Relatives (2018) by Jumana Manna.
- Fixed Point Perspective exhibition at Minerva Projects, Denver, Colorado (October 2017)
A project that looks at the Ottoman studio tradition and its legacy in the work of contemporary artists. Book forthcoming (article in Denver Post)
- The Arch of My Eye’s Orbit exhibition at BAM, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (March 9–June 2016)
The cosmopolitan denotes a sophistication that is at ease in many cultures, but there is also a deep unease in that ability to transcend one place or society. Through the frame of the city and its architecture, the violence of modernity continues to adapt our cities into machines of living, a presence we negotiate everyday. In the work of Slavs & Tatars, Kamrooz Aram, Anila Quayyam Agha, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed, each artist approaches the space in between, where cultures transform and don a new skin. (photos)
- Jade Townsend’s Crazy Amazing Garage Sale exhibition at Auxiliary Projects, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (July 10–12, 2015)
A project that plays off the anxiety of an artist to jettison their art in storage, while connecting with the artist’s long history of riffing off the networks of Americana, including yard sales.
- Street Art Zine project for Concrete to Data exhibition at the Steinberg Museum of Art at Hillwood, Long Island University, Brookville, New York (January 26–March 21, 2015)
A curated serial publication during the Concrete to Data exhibition at the Steinberg Museum. The 40-page zine was published five pages at a time over the course of the eight week exhibition. There are contributions by Brent Burket, Luna Park, Robin Grearson, Abe Lincoln, Jr., and an interview with an anonymous gay graffiti writer. It prominently features my street art photography, and an article I wrote about street art photography in 2009.
- Transitions exhibition at The Lost Lectures New York with Hyperallergic (April 25, 2014)
Featuring video works by Chelsea Knight, Rico Gatson, Serkan Özkaya, Zefrey Throwell, and Saya Woolfalk, it ran on a dedicated screen as part of Hyperallergic’s Lost Lectures event in April 2014.
- Armenian Typography, an evolving collection of graphic design
A collection of images and archive featuring historic Armenian typography. The project is particularly focused on multilingual graphic design and 19th century typography, which was a golden age for Armenian type design.
Some of the objects featured in the online exhibition are in my personal collection but the majority are images I have found on eBay, Flickr, or other websites. Links to the original sources are always included. I’ve also included images from my travels around the world and all the Armenian typography I’ve encountered along the way. The Tumblr blog is one archived portion of a larger project.
- World’s First Tumblr Art Symposium, including Walking into the Dashboard (March 9, 2013), co-curated with Ben Valentine
One of the biggest events I’ve even been part of, Walking into the Dashboard featured a two level display of art work by Cloaque, Hyper Geography, Friendster Friday, Thirozumi, and many others. It was attended by roughly 500 people and was complemented by a catalogue and a full-day symposium that was livestreamed for viewers around the world.
- Presents: 3 Months of Mail Art for Hyperallergic HQ at Hyperallergic HQ (June 17, 2011)
Over the course of months, Presents, which I co-curated with Kate Wadkins, invited mail artists to submit work that would help us discuss the contemporary state of mail art. We often featured various mail artists in articles or photo essays. The final product of the project was a weeklong exhibition of art we received, and a zine that was published in two unique editions (the first was edited by me and the second by Kate) of 100 copies each.
- #TheSocialGraph at Outpost (November 12–27, 2010)
The world’s first exhibition of social media-related art, we moved Hyperallergic headquarters into the gallery space at Outpost and I curated an exhibition of related works. During that same period, artist Man Bartlett did a residency in our Williamsburg office that concluded with the #24hKith performance, which complimented the #24hKin interactive sculpture in the Outpost gallery. The gallery exhibition was only a fraction of #TheSocialGraph, as I featured a retrospective of YouTube artist James Kalm (aka Lore Munk), a YouTube retrospective by Brent Burket, Other artists and writers featured in the exhibition were Jennifer Dalton,Blanco, Ben Davis, Jake Dobkin, Elbowtoe, Becki Fuller, Veken Gueyikian, James Gilbert, Nate Hill, Sam Horine, Alexis Hyde, Paddy Johnson, Benjamin Lotan, Joanne McNeil, Loren Munk, Luna Park, Space Slave Trade, Lawrence Swan, Austin Thomas, William Powhida, and An Xiao. The book connected to this project will be published in 2020, as the publication was deliberately “slowed” to reflect on the lifespan of social media and its impact on conversations and ideas about art on- and offline.
- Joy Garnett’s Run Free on Add-Art (launched September 26, 2010)
An advertising takeover curation featuring artist Joy Garnett’s paintings cropped for standard ad sizes.
- On Display at Storefront Gallery, Bushwick, Brooklyn (August 6–22, 2010)
Featuring the art of Joy Curtis, Sharon Butler, and Cathy Quinlain, the exhibition looked at the culture of display and how it plays with our perceptions of reality. There is a catalogue for the show and it includes an essay I wrote.
Some Early Exhibitions
- blogpix at Denise Bibro
- Gallery, Chelsea, Manhattan (March 5–28, 2009)
- Kitabet/FutureHype publication (Haigazian University, Beirut, 1998)
- The Stuff Dreams are Made of: The Art and Design of Frederick and Louise Coates at the University of Toronto, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (January 16–March 27, 1997)