Achot Achot was born in Yerevan in 1961 and grew up in Armenia. He now lives in Paris. In his spiritual afactum works photography is not only juxtaposed against and mixed with abstract painting: Achot Achot also reconciles two seemingly diverging views of life with each other and synthesises them. His photographs of young women with their palpable eroticism address as well as dissolve the separation of body and soul that is so inherent in Christian-Occidental history. Yet, in his meditative paintings evoking Far Eastern philosophies such dualism no longer appears to exist. The borderline between ‘The Self and the Known’ becomes irrelevant, the yearning for ‘The Infinite’ being the underlying goal.
Emily Artinian was born to an Armenian father in Pennsylvania in 1970. She now lives in London. Her involvement with artist’s books and text-based art is a recurrent theme of her work and can also be regarded as a reminiscence of the Armenian book culture and tradition. Emily Artinian’s conceptual text works add visual expression to abstract language which in turn is often reduced to abstract language again. Her projects resemble translation processes, cryptic, arcane messages which need to be deciphered to grasp their true meaning. Identity is thus tantamount to cryptography and difficult to decode.
Andrew Demirdjian, born in Springfield, MA in 1966, lives and works in the greater New York city area. He made the video “Yerevan dialogues” while he was in the Armenian capital on an artist residency. It is the story of a sensual discovery tour of today’s Yerevan. He asks passers-by and residents “What does Yerevan smell like? What does Yerevan taste like? What does Yerevan feel like?” From these individual impressions and personal responses he compiled absurdly humorous statistics meant to scientifically prove and demonstrate subjective feelings about the city. In his recent videos the relationship between visual and aural elements is increasingly at the fore of his work. Just like a choreographer Andrew Demirdjian creates complex arrangements of images and sounds.
Silvina Der-Meguerditchian is the granddaughter of Armenian immigrants to Argentina and was born in Buenos Aires in 1967. She grew up in Argentina and now lives in Berlin. A recurrent theme of her work is the remembrance of the ethnic dislocation of the Armenian people and the genocide they suffered. She uses photographic memorabilia and official documents and merges them in her crochet collages into individual painful stories. Silvina Der-Meguerditchian ties a net. She connects the disparate, builds bridges between worlds apart or seeks a dialogue with the unknown. Her work “Connexion Obsession” is emblematic for this artistic fervour. Her main focus is always on the actual process of joining and dissolving, constructing and deconstructing identity. Silvina Der-Meguerditchian’s work represents a type of mnemonics, namely the individual and collective art of commemoration.
Dahlia Elsayed lives in the US. In her work writing and painting appear as two related processes complimenting each other. In her delicate paintings comprising text and images she creates mappings of her own inner self. Autobiographical and social experiences form the basis of her work resulting in an imaginary geography and phantasmajoric travel topography. Due to the precise descriptions of fictitious places and landscapes, the landscapes of the soul and dream world mapped out gain a certain idiosyncratic validity. Dahlia Elsayed’s imaginary mappings tell the story of dislocations and individual mementoes thereby representing the aesthetic matrix of cultural reality that today’s immigrants are faced with.
Sophia Gasparian was born in the Soviet Republic of Armenia in 1972. At the age of 15 she emigrated with her parents to the US and now lives and works in Los Angeles. In her work she experiments with various artistic media such as collages, language and print as well as film and video. Sophia Gasparian’s unconventional works combine the aesthetics of children’s drawings or graffiti with quizzical, if not to say sarcastic social criticism. There is always a troubling, eerie, even brutal element in her drawings such as “Save that my grave is kept clean” of 2004 or “Help” of 2004. The drawing “Let’s not chat about despair” deals with the painful topic of remembrance and questions the impact this has on the existence of those generations experiencing the traumata of ethnic dislocation through the life and despair of their parents and grandparents.
Archi Galentz was born in Moscow in 1971. He comes from an Armenian family with a long history of painters and now lives and works in Berlin. A recurrent theme that is central to his artistic work is the question of Armenian identity, especially in relation to political factors such as the demise of the Soviet Union and the resurgence of Armenian awareness. The search for a paradise lost as the central theme of Archi Galentz’s work was already evident in “The Black Garden” of 1997 in which the aspect and use of colour were, however, key issues – painting as a medium to illustrate the condensation of life and the strategies for survival.
Founded in 2004 by Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Underconstruction was a communication platform for artists interested in issues of identity, transglobalization and the construction of both personal and groupconsciousness. Underconstruction is also interested in issues of concern to worldwide diasporas, including but not limited to the Armenian diaspora.