Armenian archive – 5

I met with Richard again yesterday and I received the next instalment of two boxes of photographs – about two hundred more photographs – I suppose I have now seen about 600 of them, which would mean about 3400 more to view. I was a trifle wary after seeing the images from previous batch; however there were no similar images that made me start as last time.

I knew that an attempt to catalogue the archive had been started, the project had begun with re-photographing the archive – all the images I have seen are those re-photographs – and an interview with the owner of the photographs had created about 300 annotated cards before, sadly, the owner became very ill and passed away. This time, along with the two boxes of prints, came a number of those annotated cards, and interestingly, the cards were not connected to any of the photographs in either of the two boxes.

I want to concentrate with this post on those cards. I was, I suppose, disappointed that the cards were disassociated from the photographs and I quickly looked at them and put them aside. The photographs had held a particular fascination since the previous batch because of the nature of some of those images – see here . However, something had been playing on my mind in respect of those cards and when I ‘re-looked’ at them I started to ‘see’ something in them. I started to build a personal picture with just the text to conjure the narrative forming in my imagination. I suspect that having viewed over 600 images from the archive has informed my subconscious, but I think that anyone who would read these cards would infer something from them.

633

633

634

634

634a

634a

634b

634b

635

635

These five cards appears to me an innocuous series, connected only by the index reference numbers 5 cards perhaps equates to five photographs all around 1912? A dancing bear/performer, a Turkish song or poem, something about an Ark and the damage done to it by the Russians. Nothing to be really concerned about, but equally there is a visualness that seems to seep into my mind.

Then comes this:

660

660

660b

660b

Now this absence of a comment disturbs me. That there is an index entry for the image 660b, what was it that prevented the interviewee from providing a caption and what happened to 660a? That a set of (at least two) sub references to image 660 have been (possibly) created and one with a card, suggest something, though I only have my inquisitiveness to inform me. I have included the prior image reference, but there is no reason why they should be connected, after all this is a an album, mainly a family album – despite the images in the previous post (which starts to disturb me more and more, why would they be there in a photograph album……? I know this is informing my thoughts as I look at the photographs and these cards). The image 660b could be a standalone image. I am sure Richard picked a random set of cards, so I don’t think he was trying to lead me somewhere with an “edit’ other than he has clearly ‘edited’ the set by choosing the ones he randomly picked up!

Then this short series, which I imagine are connected:

667

667

668

668

669

669

670

670

671

671

672

672

673

673

674

And finally a short story:

686

686

There is a card for 687, but it has no text. An absence which provides an echo perhaps for 686?

687

687

I am now fascinated by the prospect of what narratives these cards hold. I have imbued them with content as much as the archivist has done by their very creation, even when there is no content just an index number. I have enabled them to become objects by photographing them and placing them in a sequence. I have enabled them to communicate by editing them in sequences – not in a sequence that would destroy the previous archival process of index, but given that I have no idea what, if any, narrative editing had been done to the original photo album, nor, in subsequence, what the archivist had done. I have developed these objects into a new piece; whether it might be called art is for another discussion. I am though, very excited about the potential of this as a way of presenting documents in ways that could present a narrative in a contextually challenging way.

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One thought on “Armenian archive – 5

  1. Of course I checked for some information on the month of mourning. Why is it that most religions have this type of ceremonial process which, to me, goes way back to Sumeria, maybe beyond?
    Yes – these photographed cards do have a tangible presence. I don’t get the sense that they could be shuffled around to make a different story – well not yet, at least.

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