Artists at War
Medieval Geghard Monastery - Armenia
Testimonies of creative minds affected by brutalities of our times
Why Now? Why Me?
As a descendant of the last century’s first, fully documented, yet to be recognized, Genocide
against 1.5 millions Armenians by the Ottomans, I am well aware of the wounds of near annihilation –
and its residual scars on the generations following.
Having spent years interviewing artists living in exile, I feel it is then my duty as a descendent of the
20th century’s first ethnic cleansing campaign and man’s inhumanity to man, to shed light upon the
physical and emotional impacts of war that is seldom discussed in the mainstream cultural institutions.
It is also perhaps my desperate plea to the world powers to stop the senseless wars, destruction,
killings and annihilations and to give our planet a chance for peace, healing, harmony and the quality of life we deserve as basic rights regardless of gender, color, race or religious convictions.
The world's largest arms suppliers are U.S., U.K, France, China, and Russia
Five of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council
It is my hope that through the testimonials of these artists I may be able to help awaken the world populations from comfortable status quo by offering stark details of altered lives of millions of ordinary citizens who never participated in declaring wars but inadvertently became front line victims.
The printed, audio, video and links to the artistic expressions are testimonies from trapped lives in the forced playgrounds -- created by western powers’ self interest and foundered “peace keepers.” These are individuals who are left behind after the UN convoys and the international media personnel run off to the next conflict zone, to their next assignment. These are stories of the broken, deformed, tortured, deprived, and dispossessed who mend the broken pieces to once again make whole remnants of a past life dissipated with clouds of smoke, fire, and explosions – desperately attempting to re-create the new normal, in a faintly familiar world.
Long after the media cameras shut down, the dazed civilians frozen in a space no longer animate, move as shadows and ghosts to mend the broken pieces of their lives: gathering the scattered pieces of their home with a family photo, a frying pan, a child’s clothing still carrying the scent of an offspring, the three-legged chair, part of a table, a wooden door holding nothing within, roofless school rooms with remains of desks and chairs with a distant memory of children’s voices; ravaged office buildings exposing detonated equipment with bulging wire guts. These are stories of crushed dreams and aspirations that once shaped the purpose for living as they mapped futures now blurred as erased chalkboards of a dreamlike past, a smudged distant memory, needing to be redefined to fill a deafening emptiness.
But the devastation of war – its horrors – its brutality – its injustice – its utter destruction of both physical and mental boundaries leaves behind partially decapitated existence of ghosts who must clear away the heavy debris of war-torn streets, rebuild a home from salvaged, meager parts – and put together as much of their home, life and country as their own invisibly scarred physical, mental and emotional being would allow.
While the survivors slowly re-patch the material world into a perforated shell barely holding life back together - they pulsate to life with attempts to confirm their own pulse.
The interviews presented here are not art reviews. Artists presented here are the guardians of these struggles – whether in their homeland or in exile – they preserve the bleak truth others have bend to fit their interests. Impacted by images of war-torn lands, lost families, friends and loved ones, they endeavor to keep intact the shredded fabrics of the societies they once were proud members. Their continued creative lives - in exilic, foreign lands or displaced in their own homeland - in essence preserves their sanity and is a testimony of self-preservation shared with audiences who may also be thirsting to grip to familiar images and fragments of memories that reveal themselves through muses of creativity.
Jackie Abramian - 2016