Gagik Aroutiunian

The practice of art is a magic prism through which I attempt to view and understand the surrounding world and myself, and which allows me to share and communicate the discoveries I make in the process. One of the main issues that I explore in my art is memory. Memory is an important component of identity; we are shaped by what we remember, which defines us in the most direct and profound way. But our memories are not stable; they may change or fade over time. I am specifically interested in cases in which both memory and identity shift and become displaced from their original context of time and place (decontextualized). Intertwined with my exploration of memory is a personal fascination with two different entities: the rough, explicit, material quality of object/matter, and the ever-elusive image/illusion that we dream, envision or imagine. In my work sculptural processes and materials are manifestations of object/matter. Images, video and light, on the other hand, represent illusion. While the first is a primary means for me to represent identity and its displacement, the second is a way to represent memory and its transience. The juxtaposition of these two contrasting entities is consistently present in my work in one form or another where they may oppose or complement each other.
“House of Memories” is an ongoing series in which I use the ruined interior of a house as the primary material source to represent and interpret the fragility and transient nature of individual memory when exposed to the test of time. The house, which belonged to my parents, has been uninhabited for the last twenty years and is in a ruinous state. For me, the space and all the objects in it are linked to the most profound recollections, and yet I help but feel that with the passage of time my memories are deteriorating along with the house itself. Because of this, I have chosen the ruined interior full of decaying, unusable furniture and objects as an allegorical manifestation of the current state of my memories. However to think of my memories as a deteriorating ruin is unbearable; rather I prefer to think of the process of memory as a transformation from one state to another, from one condition to another one. As a counterbalance to the grim condition and reality of that interior, therefore, I decided to create abstract structures to serve as a surrogate material translation and representation of specific memories and experiences. These structures are fragile, semi-transparent, and are constructed entirely from elements of devices originally used for communication, data storage or image processing (cameras, printers, computers, phones, scanners). These devices have been deconstructed to the point where their elements become devoid of their original purpose, function, and identity, pulverized by force into small particles. With these bits and parts I have created a new, perhaps sad and tense but nevertheless beautiful image/translation of past experiences and the feelings they evoke.

I was born and raised in Soviet Armenia, then part of Soviet Union. I left Soviet Armenia at the young age, against my parents will. Either through my own doing or circumstances I lived in different countries, Lithuania, Poland, Canada, US, Italy and then US again, where currently (and last twenty years) I reside. In many ways I was fortunate to have experiences of living in different sociopolitical systems, in various countries, observing and immersing myself to local cultures, which in turn affected and shaped my art into different stages of development. Of those years spent in Poland and Canada, were most crucial in terms of transition through drastic changes in my art. Showing my current work in the place where artistically I had very important five years of development is a tribute to the place and culture that assisted me in becoming who I am as an artist.
Gagik Aroutiunian

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