Over time, Karapetian transitioned from using stable materials like glass and resin to using ice to create her transparent "sculptural negatives." When working especially with the objects that have made people safe over the last decade, and in considering the precarity under which people actually accessed those objects, ice proved an apt metaphor. Further work with ice and security is available in Relief and clear objects that precede the ice but contend with security are available in Accessory to Protest. The issue of security is also dealt with in Security Studies. Karapetian began working with ice as a material for an installation at the Orange County Museum of Art shown under The Built Environment, and explored the nature of the material with the series, Slips & Pushes.
The Gesture of Safe & Sanitary (ICE: pillow) - 30 second excerpt of 76:37
The Gesture of Safe & Sanitary (ICE: bar of soap) - trailer
The Gesture of Safe & Sanitary 2019
New Media theorist Vilem Flusser published his book, Gestures, in 1999, considering familiar actions, from smoking to photographing, in terms not only of movement, but also of the dynamic consequences they had between people and therefore societally. It's a phenomenological way of looking at the world, but also a banal one: taking small behaviors that engage minor tools and looking at what they do between people. Maybe Erving Goffman's book of 1950, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, also gets at this issue, but more practically. Karapetian has been interested in gesture - physical and metaphysical - since she devoted herself to creative practice, and of course before; she's also grounded herself in the objects that trigger gesture, usually remaking these in transparent material so as to photogram others. In recent work, she isolates seminal contemporary gestures along several themes, using her own body to register their consequence.
In The Gesture of Safe & Sanitary (ICE: Pillow), the artist lies on the concrete floor with her head on an ice cast of a toddler-sized pillow, enduring its melting under her as the sun goes down. With audio from the 9th Circuit Hearing of 17-56297 Jenny Flores v. William Barr, 18 June 2019, in which the U.S. Government argues that enumerating the objects imprisoned migrant children must have in order to be deemed safe and sanitary substantially alters the Flores Agreement of 1997, which would relieve the government of the court's order that its detention prisons be monitored. Those items include pillows, blankets, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, something to sleep on other than concrete, and darkness for sleeping. 1:16:37. The other objects are also used in other videos.
Moving Negative: Relief
Moving Negative: Relief, 2016
This is a video of an ice cast of a life jacket - melting at 2400 feet. The melt takes 16:20 minutes.