Text by

Liene Aerts

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To remember intentionally (1)

For Le Salon, Mekhitar Garabedian presents the new work Table (Gentbrugge), 2011-2013, a selection of snapshots over time, collected in a book. Garabedian, who is of Armenian descent, grew up in Aleppo and Beirut but has been living in Belgium from his youth on. For fifteen years now, he’s been continually documenting specific moments and places in his family home on film. Magazines are piling up next to unmade beds, walls are fading, the furniture is being rearranged, the hallway painted and the carpet replaced... Through the strategy of repetition, memory is being questioned, completed and supported.

Writer Georges Perec also trained himself in the act of remembering. Perec, a Polish Jew and child of the Diaspora, ended up in France and later wrote Espèces d’espaces. This book offers a manual for everyday life: “Force yourself to write down what is of no interest, what is most obvious, most common, most colourless... antique shops, clothes, hi-fi, etc. Don't say, don't write ‘etc’. Make an effort to exhaust the subject, even if that seems grotesque, or pointless, or stupid. You still haven't looked at anything, you've merely picked out what you've long ago picked out.” (2) Perec suggests writing down the history of, for instance, our beds (the bed being the utmost individual space). In this process of recording Perec notices a threefold experience of ageing: of the places themselves, of their memories, and of their writing. He wonders what it means to live in a room or place: “Is to live in a place to take possession of it? What does taking possession of a place mean? As from what moment does somewhere become truly yours?”

A table – whether it be a coffee table, dining table, office desk or just a table – is typically defined by the people who surround it. In Garabedian's piece however, the table stands on its own. The chosen object – around which birthdays, Christmas and other traditional moments take place – is being celebrated in all its bareness. No birthday cakes in sight, rather a glimpse of the light gliding by. Subtle changes give away the elapsing of time day by day.

We remember the moments sitting around the table, but do we recollect the numerous hours passing by in the meantime? The images of Garabedian represent the present day truth, the moments when the table catches dust or light. Like Perec, Garabedian’s family lives in Diaspora. Like Perec, he creates manuals for ‘espèce d’espace’ and he is perceptive to the traces this ‘surrounding space’ unnoticeably carries within itself. It’s a combination of image and imagination, of what a house or a home could represent.

Mekhitar Garabedian’s recent solo exhibition ‘I love you, but I don’t know’ (28/02/14 - 29/03/2014) at Albert Baronian Gallery in Brussels presented among others, the new work Morgenröte (And there is no telling what encounters would be in store for us if we were less inclined to give in to sleep) (2013-2014). This chronological projection of forty-five photographs, taken from the bedroom window during dawn, seamlessly elaborates on the idea of time passing by and the uniqueness of a single moment in time.

(1) In the context of Mekhitar Garabedian’s exhibit in S.M.A.K. in 2011-2012 the book Something about today was published, in its preface by Maria-Aude Baronian the idea of intentional remembering and of ‘acts of memory’ of Garabedian’s work is deepened.

(2) From Georges Perec, Espèces d’espaces (‘Species of Spaces and Other Pieces’), 1974.