Functions Exhibit

By Artist-in-Residence Zarouhie Abdalian


Thursday, October 29–Sunday, December 13, 2015 • Ongoing during open hours.
Exploratorium, Pier 15, West Gallery
Included with the museum admission.


We tend to associate scores with musical notes and the performance of music. Yet, for decades, a wide range of artists—including Yoko Ono, Sol LeWitt, Trisha Brown, and John Cage—have created text-based scores for performances of all kinds. Depending on the score and its intentions, these instructions may be communicated in written, spoken, or pictographic language. 

Current Exploratorium Artist-in-Residence Zarouhie Abdalian has developed a suite of prose scores entitled Functions that explore the social dimensions of the Exploratorium as a public environment. The scores, presented as a set of cards, have instructions that invite playful interaction among three or more participants. The scores will be performed by Exploratorium visitors over the course of several months, and are expressly designed for anyone to try—no special knowledge or abilities are needed to join in the performance. Abdalian’s Functions encourages us to probe what happens when an individual joins with others to become part of a public. How do individuals negotiate group power dynamics? 

Over the next few months, Functions will appear at the Exploratorium as live enactments and as an ongoing exhibit. A concert event will explore the origins of the artwork.

Born in New Orleans and based in Oakland, Zarouhie Abdalian creates artworks that respond to the specific attributes of a particular location or social landscape. Her subtle interventions, almost bordering on the invisible, produce shifts in how we perceive and experience everyday environments.