Monday, June 9, 2014

FARRAH KARAPETIAN | Begone and present. In the solid-state-nowness. — Feat. interview TAR Magazine


Interview by Luca Lisci

Farrah's chromes are object of immanence. 
The world is your metaphor, 
and you are totally caught up in it.

Your ‘visuals' are so present but yet so ethereal… really fascinating... In some of your most iconic works, objects are really put in a documentary  mood. Can we talk of ‘scientific’?

FK  People have used the word "forensics" with respect to my work: the objects imply their association with an event larger than themselves, even if their identities are very banal. One might try to piece together a narrative - fictional, documentary, personal, or scientific - to associate with any one of them, but that narrative is as much linked to personal association as it is to larger events of cultural significance. One writer called the work more of a metaphor than a record, and I appreciated that, because I don't think in a literal way.

Certainly, when I invite people into the darkroom to reenact a memory in front of a piece of photosensitive paper, they are "performing", and each resulting image is an artifact of their performance more than it is an artifact of the original event that they remember. I consider even photograms that result from my own solo experimentation to be artifacts of performance. When I go into the darkroom with a certain set of objects - which I call "negatives" - and a certain set of formal parameters - such as the dimensions of a piece of paper or a particular color palette I'd like to achieve - I then have to be flexible to the improvisational nature of color printing. Color printing is done entirely in the dark and so one uses one's hands a lot to feel physically what one is drawing out with one's tools. What happens next can't be taken back...

I suppose this is the nature of all photographic work: something happens in front of a lens and is surprising, hopefully. One wouldn't call documentary work performative, though, because it doesn't rely on enactment, reenactment, or the intentional staging of circumstances that will lead to happenstance.

L  Many of your titles are grouped into dominant threads.. Veterans, Protest, Surveillance, Public, Ruins, Street.. Have  those threads something in common?

FK These threads are themes I have pulled out after the fact of fabrication for purposes of organization. In truth, each body of work emerges from a personal encounter in the experience of which I can imagine a formal and emotional challenge.

As examples of the circumstances of such an encounter: the work I made with veterans emerged from the muscle memory of a veteran of the US Special Forces and the work around protest emerged from my encounter with a pamphlet distributed before the fall of Mubarak, which was given me by my boyfriend's daughter's mother. The work with surveillance emerged from having been told that my photograms looked like X-Rays and then realizing that I could indeed prefabricate what I was seeing online in terms of X-Rays on the scale of the international border. Some of the work has emerged in response to the particular architecture or significance of a space in which I was given to exhibit. So they are all just challenges I choose to meet.

Read full interview @ TAR Magazine


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