Collage series and artist’s book
65 collages on paper & 100 copies limited edition artist’s book, dimensions variable
Commissioned for The National Pavilion of The Republic of Armenia, 56th Biennale Di Venezia, 2015
Golden Lion for Best National Participation, Biennale Di Venezia, 2015
A Small Guide to the Invisible Seas is based on an extensive collection of photographic albums of Soviet Armenia, Turkey and Greece dating from the 1960s to the early 1980s, collected over a period of 4 years. The albums sometimes acting as documentation of changing landscapes and other times as tourist catalogues function as nation building mechanisms: they narrate through photography an image of each nation. A Small Guide to the Invisible Seas assembles these heterogeneous images 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. The project 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 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.
These seven seas (of echoes, reflections, passions, departures, actions, waves and images) also reflect on a particular moment in the history of photography, when printed images became a marker of modernity, aiding the development of a visual culture that turned the world into an image to be consumed. A Small Guide to the Invisible Seas is not the enactment of a type of visual archaeology were a series of comparisons unveils the connections between different sets of commodity images, but challenges the documentary value of images of the past through the layering of inappropriate symbolic references.
Following an essayistic logic were various thinking processes coexist, images of different sizes and textures are placed on top of each other creating frames within frames, sometimes building on repetitions and reflections and 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 are collaged as if interweaving bodies, inscribed by symbolic forces and multiple codes. Forcing past temporalities and geographies to collapse into a single space the collages bring together images that recognize each other. Communicating and cooperating, images find their perfect match, as if ‘everything is in play and in place’.