The first picture of Hrair Sarkissians latest work homesick shows a house so naturalistic it seems taken directly from the outskirts of an arabian city and put into the plain white room that fills the images background. Strangely torn from it’s context, intact, yet displaced, lacking neighboring houses, a distric, inhabitants, something ghostly clings to that replica. Inspite or may be because of it’s realism, the house in „homesick“ has an irreal, an imaginative touch. It’s seems to refer to a memory, to an imagined space rather than a real one, and as the series moves on, this reproduction of a memory is slowly deconstructed: Three following photos show the house on increasing levels of destruction until, on the last image, only chunks of stone remain.
The way back to the future in Hrair Sarkassians photo serieses is, for an instance, a way to the past. For „homesick“ the artist meticousely rebuilt the house of his parents in Damascus, detail by detail, in a 1:30 scale, bringing in an architect and a building contractor to be able to employ the authentic materials and construction methods of his childhood home. The piece-meal demolition of his replica was than done by hand, also by the artist, and is documented in two videos that are also part of the series.
A ghostly notion also comes with the works in „stand still“ – all of them showing housing areas and groups of buildings that where never finished. Abandoned or never populateed – definetly the feeling of absence is breathing through the images, and the current war in the arab region adds a new layer to Sarkissians work, stressing ever so strong the subjects of abandoning, homes lost and homes left and depopulated space.
Back to the future unites photos from six of Sarkassians earlier series, from „Zebida“, realized in 2007 as one of his earliest works to the recent „homesick“. His photographies often meditate about places and what is behind their obvious appearance. On his website, he states:
„The constancy and beauty of the settings, however, are at odds with the socio-historical realities that they conceal. Photography is my tool to search for answers related to my personal memories and background, and I use this subjectivity as a way to navigate larger stories that official histories are unable or unwilling to tell.“
Sarkissian was born and raised in Damascus, Syria and is a grandchild of Armenian expatriates. The origins of his family as well as the current situation of enforced exile made their way into his work.
Back to the future will be held from november 27th 2015 to february 21st 2016 in Fondazione Carispezia in La Spezia, Italy.