A Step Behind the Line

  • Ariadna Garcia Chas (Spain)

    Curator: Susanna Gyulamiryan

    Modern Art Museum, Yerevan
    December 8-15, 2016

    The project has been supported by European Cultural Foundation (ECF)
    Photo credit: Vahagn Vardumyan

‘A Step Behind the Line’ is Ariadna Garcia Chas’s second project implemented in Armenia. In 2015, she presented another project, which had the process of deconstructing cultural stereotypes by means of collective practices at its core, and the spectator was an active participant of that process. The issues discussed in her new project are represented through a gesture of personal nihilism. At first, it might seem that most of the visual part of the large-scale video installation is innocently neutral and aesthetically attractive. Although this attempt to overcome the pleasant ‘grammar’ serving traditional art has its visual metaphors in the project as well, the symbols of traditional representation related to national, cultural, and women’s identities, nevertheless, intensively fluctuate in a single video in the form of traditional pomegranates or flowers, the gifts of the natur(e)al. This is not an attempt to neutralize the criticism of stereotypes about the woman identified with the passive or/and dispossessive nature, but to tell about the ways of representing those stereotypes in Armenia as sacralized symbols, valid components of national-cultural representation.

The issues of stereotypical constraints and dominant borderlines that concern the artist also led her to Nagorno-Karabakh (for several weeks, she lived, researched, shot videos and conducted interviews in military garrisons of Artsakh, borderline villages, and many other areas). The issue of (border)lines went beyond the historical, geographical, and even geopolitical for her and became a new subject of epistemological effort, with the issue of redefining, reviewing woman’s subjectivity in the center of it. As she herself explains, ‘When I headed to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh in order to study the issues related to the ‘border’, I wouldn’t expect that the curve of material borderline would bring me to women, and I would be faced with their submissive silence, blind passiveness, their ‘boundless’ absence from the cohort of great war heroes. They were mostly at home, rejected by the public, lonely or waiting near the border, but were, at the same time, perceived as someone who continues life, as a nourishing engine…’

The artist tries to represent the gender role models of women and the ‘borderlines’ constraining them through her own body, which is a kind of an essentialist approach where all the women unite into an essence inherent in the feminine. But this is the artist’s effort to reunite with women, to express solidarity to them, which is perhaps utopian but highly desirable. In general, the issue of communication, cooperation is central to almost all of the art works.

The video series is combined with a material installation, which is a series of texts imitating the Braille alphabet for blind people implemented on wooden ‘parchments’. The notion of woman’s silence that often occurs in Feminist discourses is complemented here with dispossessive blindness, but the unreadability of the texts for spectators literally radiates light: a ‘light’ that blinds the pathos of patriarchy and women’s’ abusiveness (blind alphabet dialogues imitate the ‘texts’ of porn movies where women’s body is discriminated).

According to the artist, she is still searching for ways to break free from imperatives sacralized by the dominant, from borderlined conventions, seeking to identify the inner limits/ line of her capacity to resist, which seems will be articulated in her further projects.

 

 

Ariadna Garcia Chas has graduated from Instituto Internacional, Madrid and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in ‘Audio-visual communication’, 2007-2011. She has also studied Art History at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (2009-2014). In addition, she has received Master’s degrees from Universidade da Vigo (‘Art direction’) and Istituto Europeo di Design (‘Scenography’). She lives and works in Santiago de Compostela (Spain).