Recently, I visited the studio of artist Arevik Tserunyan and we discussed her installation called Clouds: The Magic of the Underworld.
Arevik and I both graduated from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University MFA program and now join forces to create a series of videos offering commentary, reflection and review on contemporary art.
We begin this series with a visit to her studio at The Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, MA. Arevik is originally from Yerevan, Armenia and is now the artist-in-residence at the museum currently working on an installation about the Armenian genocide.
During this visit, we discussed what it was like for her emotionally to go through the process of exploring this history and creating art around this research. Being from Armenia and immigrating to the US, I asked Arevik what it was like to attempt to shine light on this dark period of history. Can one do so? Do we collectively forget something so deep as genocide? Are the wounds so deep, so hidden, so lost as to possibly explore shining light on them?
Where are the shadows? Where are the boundaries? And where are we now after all this time?
Arevik says that her work is neither a paradise nor a hell. It is more of a kind of underworld, a place where she can obsessively enter and render through meticulous detail a bit of humor, wisdom, and honesty that is part of her personality and part of her culture. I was impressed by her work and delighted to visit her studio. What I loved most was the quirkiness and the element of surprise in the midst of such a tragic history. Still we continue, even through the deepest suffering and strive towards creating a better world for ourselves, or at least a world that is uniquely ours. But as she says, and as her work says, the questions are still there, and there is still much uncertainty around this history.
To me, this work felt like a buoyant sense of resilience. A refusal to fall victim to the suffering, but also a refusal to ignore the truth.
Stay tuned for more of our videos. And stay tuned for Arevik's installation in completion. It will surely dazzle and entertain, in a most thought-provoking and emotionally revelatory way.