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“Art in the Market”The Armenian Reporter

Interview — with Minneapolis NBC Affilliate KARE11

Ruminations on visibility and the everyday.

PSi Conference: Toronto, 2010.

I’m interested in mapping out the theoretical underpinnings and after-thoughts of my recent installation project situated in an international marketplace in Minneapolis titled forShadows. These are my initial thoughts. Because my work is based on the exploration of certain questions of meaning please indulge me as I outline the trajectory of my investigations as a way of approaching this most recent work.

My Entry into the Form

My entry into installation is through performance. My current work is an effort to learn more about how to most effectively make visible individual everydays so that we might collect ourselves in our particular experiences and create opportunities for shifting our culture – or a particular culture in some way.

[…] I began to explore the tension between lived experience and representations of experience. After years of watching Other stories being portrayed on stage, and walking out of theatre productions at an ever-increasing rate, I began to look for how I thought I might begin to represent my question about the role of lived experience in relation to representations. Richard Schechner gives his own twist to Aristotle’s notion of representation which parallels my own definition: “Art always ‘comes after’ experience; the separation of art and life is built into the idea of mimesis…Art is cooked and life is raw. Making art is the process of transforming raw experience into palatable forms. This transformation is a mimesis, a representation.” (Performance Theory p. 38). This is what I mean by representation.

Much later in my life, I came to realize that fueling my desire to explore the limits and possibilities of representation might owe itself to my heritage as the descendent of a survivor of the Armenian genocide. A genocide that is — not insignificant to this discussion — denied (made invisible) by its perpetrator. My interest in making visible the stories I grew up with and the experience I have in carrying the story clearly influence my interest in making silenced aspects of lived experience visible.

My Form Changes — Site-Specific Installation

Site-specific installation looked to be a form that would allow me to best reframe the relationship between representations, site, and lived experience. It also promised further consideration for reconstituting the role of the spectator. This form looked to hold good possibility for my interest in exploring of the space of anxiety created when spectators’ expectations around aesthetic and site are challenged. These promises held by site specific installation led me to my most recent piece, forShadows.

My approach to forShadows was to ask the following:

1 – Can I create a work that has both a representational and a lived component and design the work so that the affective experienced occurs in the everyday life rather than in the space of the representation? Can I have an aesthetic component that can function as a way to the everyday rather than point only to itself?

2 – Can I create opportunities for dialog between people who don’t really talk to each other by making visible the particular everyday lived experiences of those who inhabit the space in the context of the everyday and then respectfully create connections between their experiences?

3 – Can I demonstrate my own personal collaborative experience with the marketplace personnel in this piece non-oppressively as I bring in my own words, my own aesthetic and my own curation to this project?