Aikaterini Gegisian & Hrair Sarkissian
Exhibition: – 3 Nov 2015
Island of San Lazzaro degli Armen
The Venice Biennale - Armenian Pavilion
In this symbolic year 2015, on the occasion of the one hundredth commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia has dedicated its pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia to the artists of the Armenian diaspora. It will be located at the Mekhitarist Monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni. Vaporetti will leave for San Lazzaro every early afternoon from the Giardini.
Aikaterini Gegisian: A Small Guide to the Invisible Seas
Aikaterini Gegisian is participating in the ‘Armenity’ exhibition at the National Pavilion of the Republic of Armenia at the 56th Venice Biennale, with works from her series “A small guide to the invisible seas”. The series is comprised of collages and an artist’s book based on an extensive collection of photographic albums of Soviet Armenia, Turkey and Greece, dating from the 1960s to the 1980s. The albums sometimes function as documentation of changing landscapes and at other times as tourist catalogues that narrate, through photography, an image of each nation.
The project assembles these heterogeneous images that have been produced in diverse geographical, ideological and historical contexts, into a series of collages and an artist’s book that together construct a new landscape unearthing an invisible topography. It offers a metaphysical and gendered reading of the nation building forces shaping the original material, a reading that both mimics narratives of cosmic inception (the birth of the nation) and echoes feminine and masculine metaphors (mother Armenia, the father of the nation). Divided into seven chapters that follow the logic of the Seven Seas (an idea used over the centuries to describe a diverse set of geographical settings), the guide translates the narrative of genesis not as an evolutionary progression but as a circular and synchronous connection between bodies of water.
Images of different sizes and textures are superimposed on each other creating frames within frames, sometimes building on repetitions and reflections and at other times following formal patterns or the movement of people in the image. Similar to the interlinking of the seven seas that forms the new invisible landscape, the images already inscribed by symbolic forces and multiple codes are collaged like interweaving bodies.
About this work, independent curator and art historian Svetlana Racanovic has written: “These assemblages we may perceive, at first glance, as occasional encounters, unexpected coalitions or accidental alliances; then, they gradually arise as arrangements thoroughly conceptualized, cautiously calculated, wisely affiliated; finally, the “clear heart” of these compounds starts to shimmer with the delightful sense that each image-particle of these image-knots, each image-wave of this sea of images, with lightness and luckiness joins its missing part(s) in the place where it is planted, accommodates and finds here its shore. However, that shore is not its final, destined port just a temporary shelter but where “Kairos” is captured.
“Within these seven image-clusters, within these seven constellations of floating images, there is no conformity to fixed positions, strait, arrow like directions, to the logic of progression in time or to predictable, stable unwinding and ending of supposed narrative threads. Airy, wavy, curvy, bouncing lines and inter-linkages circulate inside and cover these image-spaces allowing us to perceive and to sense, in their each spot, Sea of Echoes, Sea of Reflections, Sea of Passions, Sea of Departures, Sea of Actions, Sea of Waves, Sea of Images, sense all of them equally, instantaneously, irresistibly and permanently.”
Hrair Sarkissian: Unexposed
Hrair Sarkissian is participating in the ‘Armenity’ exhibition at the National Pavilion of the Republic of Armenia at the 56th Venice Biennale, with works from his photographic series “Unexposed”.
Hrair Sarkissian’s work explores different positions on migration, persecution and displacement. The "Unexposed" series (2012) deals with descendants of Armenians who converted to Islam to escape the genocide that took place in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Today, having rediscovered their roots, and reconverted into Christianity, these descendants are forced to conceal their newfound Armenian-ness. Unaccepted by Turkish society and not fully part of the Armenian community, they remain invisible.