Silvina Der Meguerditichian
Please! Material and Immaterial Call
15 November 2018 - 9 February 2019
The Kalfayan Galleries exhibition of Silvina Der Meguerditchian, who exhibited among others at the Armenian Pavilion (Golden Lion Award) at the Venice Biennale in 2015, marks the first solo show of the artist in Greece. Grand-daughter of Armenian immigrants to Argentina and based in Berlin since 1988, Der Meguerditchian’s work examines issues of indentity, memory, displacement, the socio-political and cultural role of minorities as well as a cartography of the space ‘in between’ various socio-political realities.
Taking as a starting point her fascination about the multi-faceted relationaship between humans and objects, Der Meguerditchian works with various materials and in different media and embarks on a visual trip of deciphering the relationship between ‘material’ and ‘immaterial’ world. She is not interested in investigating objects as ‘desire machines to awake and satisfy the lusts’ (according to Baudrillard). Rather she wants to decode their role in transactions with the invisible, drawing inspiration by various religions and philosophies. Her research brought her among others to chapels and churches in Spain and Germany where she studied characteristic examples of the Catholic tradition of ex-votos (offerings). Some of the most striking offerings were shaped like parts of the inner or outer human body, the so-called "anatomical votive offerings". Similar practices she discovered in Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Greece, Italy, but also in Asia.
Drawing inspiration by the interpretive challenges of traditions, such as the Catholic ex-votos, the Buddhist gau (portable reliquary / amulet) or the Greek Orthodox votive offerings (‘tamata’), the works presented in the exhibition explore the ways in which personal memories, dreams, desires, intimate moments live in the objects that human create during their lives or those they select to infuse with special meanings, as an act of faith, love or hope. At the same time, the artist investigates this motif of actions in juxtaposition to themes which stand in the core of her artistic practice: individual and collective memory, objects, personal stories and History, private and collective spaces, the connection of a collective practice with the action of a person or a particular community.
As the artist states “Over the summer of 2018, I started to do research in Spain and in Munich. My intention was to visit and photograph the objects and the collective places where they are exhibited/kept. As a next step, I began to make them my own to contextualize and conceptualize the votive objects. Here I dealt with different materials such as velvet, silk, metal, ribbons, wax, organic materials and found objects.” Der Meguerditchian’s research was expanded also during her workshop titled Learning from Armenia. Workshop on talismans, memories and Armenian history, which took place on July 26 at Hamburger Bahnhof in relation to the large-scale museum show titled Hello World. Revising a Collection, in which the artist participated. Based on the Soviet tradition of using the chest as a remembrance place of ‘great battles’, objects such as ‘medals’, ‘talismans’ and amulets were filled with new progressive content. (A three-minute documentation can be found in the following lik: https://vimeo.com/283035073)
Silvina Der Meguerditchian’s works address - in a highly personal artistic language- the following questions: In a world where humans spend most part of their daily lives ‘on line’, what is the relation between the material and the immaterial realities? What are the personal or collective rituals which people from various backgrounds practice in order to preserve desires or memories or to cope with fears? At the same time, expanding upon this universal need to connect the material with the immaterial world, the artworks are embedded with a double identity: that of the artwork and that of a personal object with ‘immaterial’ qualities for the artist or the public.