Centre for Contemporary Images - Saint-Gervais Genève

30 January - 27 March 2004
Haroutioun Simonian - Performance (behind closed doors) & video installation

opening : 29 January 2004 at 6pm
exhibition open: Tuesday - Friday 2-6pm and Saturday 2-5pm
            Centre for Contemporary Images

Haroutioun Simonian. Born in 1972. Lives and works in Yerevan, Armenia
«It’s in that physical reality—his very body—that man experiences his own culture.» P. P. Pasolini

(see below...)

Haroutioun Simonian, Sans titre, Centre d’édition contemporaine, Genève, 2004

Utopiana, the Centre for Contemporary Images and the Centre d’édition contemporaine are pleased to present a show by Haroutioun Simonian. The exhibition is the outcome of Simonian’s two-month residency in Geneva, which concluded with the artist’s closed-door performance at the Centre d’édition contemporaine.
Simonian was trained as a sculptor. In his work, he is concerned with pointing up the relationship between the individual body and social space; as the artist explains, «The performance and the layout of the video installation are a possible way of bringing to light the tangible border between the ego and the other, the personal and the collective.» The visibility of the body in a society enables us to measure the margin it allows for expressing individual experimentation. Simonian reflects back the image of a society that leaves no room for singularity and diversity.

For the performance at the Centre d’édition contemporaine, a closed plastic-lined space in black linoleum (176x190x200) has been slathered with Vaseline on the inside. The artist’s body tries to remain upright in a space designed to make it slip and fall. The construction of the social world, however, rests on the possibility for one and all to stand, to reach bodily stability. Moreover, the absence of spectators gives rise to an anonymous situation, something like dreams, which resonates with the thwarting of the body’s upright station. To be standing, to occupy a certain place and to be in some sort of connection are three ways of expressing the deepest structures of our existence.

Haroutioun Simonian, Sans Titre, 2001, Biennale de Venise, Italie

To question the possible emergence of a new subjectivity then, it is fitting that we start with the body. The body functions like the beginning of a text, a corporal metaphor that expresses a mental exile, an attempt to forge a theme from alienation. Concomitantly, to slip and fall signifies the destructuralization of existence and the possibility of a different structuring.

Employing two monitors, the video installation works as a trace of the performance, displaying a sanctuary-like space inasmuch as it preserves only a vestige of a real presence, although that presence continues to be perceived. The surveillance cameras filming the performance site in real time lend this «private theater» an ironic texture.

Anna Barseghian

A collaboration between Utopiana, the Centre for Contemporary Images and the Centre d'édition contemporaine.

Haroutioun Simonian, Sans Titre, 2001, Exposition «du bist die welt», Vienne, Autriche