SOURCES AND PROCESS
Intergenerational transmission of trauma, painful memories, irreplaceable losses, historical and personal photographs along with a novel image-transfer method are all active components in a self reflective and expressive journey, selecting and processing photographic material for the creation of an artful family biography.
Memories, thoughts, and feelings come together in these monoprints. This is where my exiled immigrant parents who survived the horrors of genocide—live today. Sadly they are no longer here. This is their story— that has become mine— their only child and their only voice. I speak with tears of despair and loss through these unheralded but enduring images.
Not unlike life itself, these prints have a mixture of horror, troublesome psychological issues along with an aesthetically beautiful antithetical component. The image is comprised of disturbing historic photographs from the 1915 Armenian Genocide and personal family photos, forming a collective voice from my parents and me—for all humanity.
Every image contained in these prints captures a moment in time ready to explode. These images are arranged in a wide horizontal format, overlapping intersections with some separated by vertical bands. The far left and right images are sometimes snipped off at the ends implying fragments of time. There is no attempt to create chronological time. The narrative and arrangement of these images, often separated by decades of time, are placed next to each other intuitively to collectively impart an unfolding psycho-historical compositional form.
In some strange perhaps a mythical way, this painful journey to re-visit lingering family silence, terror and sadness seemed like an act of quiet desperation. Facing and salvaging painful memories of time from oblivion, I think was also a veiled attempt to memorialize my afflicted parents who suffered so much, and to unburden myself.
Generally speaking, these augmented photographs represent moments of time, removed from the eternal continuity of time, and are now resurrected from the past and given new life that brings together the historical first large scale genocide of the 20th century and scattered personal human fragments covering a hundred years of my parents family, and my family history.
Completion of this series never had a required a deadline. It often took weeks, months, and sometimes years to realize the truth and soul of each print.
On the front of each print are written a sequence of dates that was demanded for evolving these prints with the intent of creating an expressive tour de force image of horror and human suffering.
Notwithstanding the darkness and inhumanity in these prints, there is an undying light that shines through in the creation this series for me—an unending story that speaks of man’s inhumanity to man, and to the wonderment and resiliency of the Genocide survivors and their children.
John Avakian, Nov. 1, 2018; Revised Feb 16, 2021
SEE SLIDE SHOW BELOW
THE FIRST SMILE: FAMILY SILENCE Bleed Monoprint 40" h x 29.5 w
FAMILY BIO 5 Bleed Monoprint Framed Size:
17”h x 33”w