Hrair Sarkissian: Solo Exhibition Earls Court Life
The Mosaic Rooms in Earls Court are pleased to present the first UK solo exhibition by Hrair Sarkissian, bringing together previously unseen and new work. Sarkissian’s work typically explores one theme or place through an extended body of work. The subjects of his photographs are often unpopulated spaces that evoke the traces of history and memory, simultaneously exploring what is seen and what is not seen. The artist uses photography to re-evaluate larger historical, religious or socio-political narratives.
Frozen Status and Freedom Fighters (2007) are a series of photographs which contemplate the uneasy predicament of a place with an unknown political destiny. They look at a worn torn enclave between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the self proclaimed independent Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Throughout the centuries the borders and claims over this territory have shifted, been mapped and remapped, yet the repression of the region’s indigenous minority of Armenian’s has remained persistent throughout. Today over a million of its Azeri and Armenian inhabitants remain displaced, a fragile ceasefire is in place, whilst Western powers try to negotiate a long term solution. The photographs portray both the landscape, and those that fought during the recent war. Sarkissian depicts a sense of isolation, estrangement and unease, raising questions over the price of war and contradictions inherent within national independence struggles.
In the video Homesick (2014) (image above) Sarkissian recreated and destroyed an architecturally exact scaled model of the apartment building in Damascus where his parents are still living. Like many of their generation, they have until now refused to leave Syria. Sarkissian grew up in this building, and lived there until he left Syria in 2008. It represents more than just a house. In addition to providing shelter to his parents, it is the place where he belongs, a container for his memories, and a place for his family’s collective identity.
Through Homesick Sarkissian constructs a story that, considering the current political situation and the ongoing destruction in his home country, could very well take place in the near future. What would be the consequences? What is it to expect the worst? Can we fast-forward the present and acknowledge loss and begin reshaping a collapsed history before the event? At the same time, by taking fate into his own hands, he is trying to regain some control over the situation and to tear down an unreal imagination.
Hrair Sarkissian (b. 1973, Damascus, Syria) has exhibited widely internationally in both group and solo shows including Tate Modern (London); New Museum (New York); Darat Al Funun (Amman); Mori Art Museum (Tokyo); SALT Beyoglu (Istanbul); Thessaloniki Biennale; Sharjah Biennial; Istanbul Biennial; Asia Pacific Triennial (Brisbane) among many others. In 2013 the artist won the Abraaj Group Art Prize. Hrair Sarkissian is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.
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