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TAR BOOK

BY MARGUERITE HUMEAU

THE THINGS

TAR

presents

TAR

 

'"TAR is a tremendous flight of fantasy for those who need to plan a way to escape from this planet or to save it."

@TarMagTwits

Week 2014, May 31- June 6

CHARACTERS

Begone and present.

In the solid-state-nowness.

interview by

Luca Lisci  to Artist  FARRAH KARAPETIAN

Farrah Karapetian - Prone Position, 2013

Chromogenic photogram from performance

101.6 x 243.8 cm - Unique

Image courtesy of the artist and Von Lintel Gallery

 

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

LL  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.

Farrah Karapetian - Untitled (Slip #48), 2014

Chromogenic photogram from ice

76.2 x 50.8 cm - Unique

 

LL What’s  the link between the  ‘performance’ and your chromes?

 

FK  I began using the word "performance" with respect to my work because I was looking for a way to translate the "presence" of the experience of making a photogram into the language of contemporary art. When I say "presence", I mean to say that everything that ends up on the photogram happens in the darkroom and everything that happens in the darkroom ends up on the photogram: that paper holds evidence of the entire event.

 

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.

 

Farrah Karapetian -Riot Police, 2013

Chromogenic photogram from performance

243.8 x 396.2 cm - Unique

Image courtesy of the artist and Von Lintel Gallery

 

Farrah Karapetian - Untitled (Slip #42), 2014

Chromogenic photogram from ice

76.2 x 50.8 cm - Unique

 

 

Farrah Karapetian - Riot Police, 2013

Chromogenic photogram from performance

101.6 x 243.8 cm - Unique

Image courtesy of the artist and Von Lintel Gallery

 

LL 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.

 

Emotionally, the thread throughout every project - abstract, still life, or human - can seem to be one of tragedy or conflict, and maybe I am indeed oriented towards the tragicomic... Really, the thread for me, though, is about human vulnerability, human effort, and a surrender to chance. We prepare, as humans and as artists, for every eventuality, but circumstances intervene: all of the work is about what happens just before or after such a moment of fateful intervention as much as it is about the fateful intervention that occurs in the darkroom upon exposure.

 

Formally, the thread throughout every project is an interest in the parameters of photographic imagery: how can I use its existing parameters against themselves? How can I stretch formal convention productively, both for the medium and in the service of emotional and metaphorical investigation as well? Each project links to the next in terms of formal and personal questions; I have to remain observant of my process at all times, even while deeply engaged in it.

Farrah Karapetian - Untitled (Slip #47), 2014

Chromogenic photogram from ice

76.2 x 50.8 cm - Unique

 

 

Farrah Karapetian - Untitled (Slip #56), 2014

Chromogenic photogram from ice

76.2 x 50.8 cm - Unique

 

 

Farrah Karapetian - Line of Sight, 2013

Chromogenic photogram from performance

101.6 x 243.8 cm - Unique

Image courtesy of the artist and Von Lintel Gallery

 

LL Can you tell me something about the production process of  your chromogenic prints? In the making is there involved any peculiar process?

 

FK   I think the difference between a conventional production process and mine is in the plasticity of which I assume the medium capable.

 

I come into a printing session with a particular color palette in mind that has nothing literally to do with the situation I am going to depict, and I experiment with the light and exposure until I can approximate that palette. My subjects, then, are divorced from a real documentary context and exist on a field of color not unlike the was of reds or blacks on an ancient Greek vase on top of which caper the silhouettes of heroes.

 

The route to that color differs every time; I once had an assistant make me an encyclopedia of color - writing down the enlarger's filter packs for each color in a rather elaborate spectrum - but the circumstances of printing - temperature, batch of paper, type of room, type of subject - always change the way that filter pack affects the color on the page, so the encyclopedia is useless.

 

Photography is not an exact science, contrary to conventional belief; it is not only not a truth-teller, it is not a precise instrument. It is as plastic as is painting or sculpture, especially when approached through analog means.

 

I also use a lot of its tenets metaphorically, as in my persistent use of the term "negative", despite the fact that I don't use a camera or film. I build sculptures negatives out of clear materials like resin, ice, or glass, and because these props function to filter light, I imagine them as negatives.

 

I also use a lot of movement and multiple exposure in what I do, always seeking to relay the nature of whatever it is I'm working with, and often that nature includes a function or grace associated with its passage through time or space.

 

And in general each project presents a new challenge that alters the process: how to photogram smoke, how to deal with slippery ice, how to handle illusionistic space... If there are no new challenges, there are no reasons to go on with it all.

 

 

 

 

Emotionally, the thread throughout every project - abstract, still life, or human - can seem to be one of tragedy or conflict, and maybe I am indeed oriented towards the tragicomic..

"

"

FARRAH KARAPETIAN

LL What are you working on right now?

 

FK  I am working with a new material - glass - and a new context - music. It was instigated when I heard about a school in Kabul, Afghanistan where teenagers are learning to play heavy metal. It expanded as I began to explore my father and brother's relationship to music. When I develop a project like this, there are a lot of new experiments that have to happen before the final products: I will spend time making "negatives" out of glass, I will spend time making experimental prints exploring the abstract potential of the materials and the associative potential of the objects; I will spend time researching the subject and context of music on many levels (music videos, staging, censorship, the act of giving something up), and I will coordinate both projects here at home in Los Angeles and in Afghanistan. I think the work will have a few different contexts in which it's shown: one probably in January 2015 at Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles and another in a more public context (for a different incarnation of the project, i.e. music festivals.)

Farrah Karapetian - Untitled (Slip #47), 2014

Chromogenic photogram from ice

76.2 x 50.8 cm - Unique

 

 

Playing words with TAR

 

LL  Let's play words- to-words, ok?

My first word:

           FUTURE

                              ....which is yours?

 

FK  Nope:

                NOW!

 

LL Well, bright and clear... the word:

              PAST

 

FK 

          STORIES

 

LL They say stories are based over

           CONFLICT...

 

FK 

         AVOIDANCE

 

LL How wise of you!

         ....PERSON?

 

FK

     ...OF INTEREST!

 

LL My word:

            TRIP.

 

FK 

 

    When?-Where?-Do-I-

      have-to-make-a-

           proposal?

TAR is the sticky stuff we pave our roads and build our roofs with.

It affords us travel and shelters us from the storm. It is also an anagram of the word art.

The editorial staff have taken every care to obtain from copyright holders the authorization to publish the pictures in this issue. In any cases where this has not been possible, the editorial staff would like to make it known that they are available to eligible parties to settle any amounts that are owed.

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C.F.P.IVA: 05488720961

TAR magazine digital edition  wishes to thanks

 

effimera F O N D A Z I O N E maison d'art numérique