Hrair Sarkissian

Hrair Sarkissian (Damascus, 1973) studied photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (Amsterdam). In Sarkissian’s work, landscape and the urban environment become stages for the expression of historical realities. Employing traditional documentary techniques, his photographs are expressions of a hidden paradox that exists between the beauty and constancy of the surroundings and the social realities that they conceal. Recent exhibitions include: Out of Place, 2011, TATE Modern (London, UK) and Darat Al Funun-The Khalid Shoman Foundation (Amman, Jordan); Sharjah Biennial 10 (Plot for a Biennial, 2011); Underground, Kalfayan Galleries (Athens, 2010); BREAKING NEWS. Contemporary Photography from the Middle East and Africa, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena (2010-2011); Thessaloniki Photobiennale 2010; 11th Istanbul Biennial (2009); Disorientation II (Abu Dhabi, 2009-2010); Unfinished, Kalfayan Galleries (Thessaloniki, 2007 / Athens, 2008); New Ends, Old Beginnings, The Bluecoat Gallery (Liverpool, 2008). In 2010 he was a resident at The Delfina Foundation (London) and at Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center (Istanbul). He participated in the seminar The lure of the lens in art practice and research methods. Cultural Heritage, Mobility and Visual Practices, TATE Britain (London, 2010). Collections include: TATE MODERN (UK); Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE); Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena (Italy); private collections in Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy, Spain, UK, Turkey, Lebanon, Oman and UAE.

 

Photography for me is a medium that enables me to investigate the (in)visibility of a subject, first in the way it presents itself to the spectator and subsequently in the way it adds to or conceals something from the subject after it has been photographed. I use photography as a tool to search for clues or answers. I address historical, religious and social issues relevant to my personal background and investigate the hidden components within these stories. In Between is a series of photographs that deal with my altered perception of Armenia -an imaginary homeland- after my initial visit. Like other Armenians living in various Diasporas, I grew up with mythical narratives and dreams of someday re-uniting with the “Motherland” that was part of the Soviet Union for nearly a century. However, I encountered an Armenia with shifting identities, ambiguities and uncertainties. I was unable to link the two countries: the mythical homeland and post-Soviet Armenia. The irreconcilable fissures were too many. Just as the former collapsed in my mind's eye I constructed a new, sobering geography where what I thought I knew about a place, along with my prior sense of belonging to it, got displaced.

Hrair Sarkissian

Photos

Untitled (In Between Series), 2007, archival inkjet print mounted on aluminium, 120 x 175 cm, courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens - Thessaloniki
Untitled (In Between Series), 2007, archival inkjet print mounted on aluminium, 120 x 175 cm, courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens - Thessaloniki
Untitled (In Between Series), 2007, archival inkjet print mounted on aluminium, 120 x 175 cm, courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens - Thessaloniki

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon