Commissaire / Curator : Bisi Silva
Born in Syria of Armenian origin, Hrair Sarkissian (b. 1973) works with photography and video in order to engage themes of space, place, conflict, identity, and time. Sarkissian’s video work Homesick (2014) is a two-screen installation wherein viewers witness the artist destroy a replica of his parent’s current home in Damascus. In the first screen we see a four-storey block of flats that begin to crumble slowly, floor by floor, until what remains is only rubble, whilst in the second screen a man, the artist, appears wield- ing a hammer and repeatedly knocking against something that is barely perceptible. In effect, the act taking place in one screen — the building crumbling — is a consequence of the action occuring on the other screen.Through this performative act, the artist acknowl- edges a possible present, one in which the obliteration of space, of memories—both individual, familial and collective—could disappear within the volatile context of places such as present-day Syria, or places in which prolonged civil war threatens to destroy all that’s worth cherishing.
Time, displacement and the notion of home are inextricably linked in Sarkissian’s works. Over a hundred years ago his grandparents left their native land in Armenia to escape the genocide and move to Syria. Today their grandson cannot return home to Syria because of the prolonged war. Bifurcated across two screens, Homesick structures time through cause and effect, framing the idea of home as both physically precarious and symbolically fragile.