ANV member Sona Sahakian is a visual artist based in the Hague. She works in a range of mediums including painting, drawing, collage, photography, installation and film/video art. Her work has featured in a range of group exhibitions, projects and commissions. In this article, Sona talks about the inspiration and processes that go into her mixed media works.
My works are about the search for an inner experience of time, where memories are made experienceable in the shape of fixation and transformation. The transience, the cycle of human existence – life, death and rebirth – plays an important role in this; this transforms our reality and strengthens our human consciousness. In my art I want to stimulate people’s imagination and create sensory experiences in which the traces of the past are revived in the present, which remains anchored in memory and thus enriches my personal history. In this way I want to inspire people to make an inner journey by really feeling and discovering for themselves what the treasury of their existence is.
My artworks can be characterized as different time layers stacked on top of each other. They are lyrically poetic and breathe an atmosphere that takes you to another, inexplicable reality in which everything becomes livable and tangible. My works have a certain stratification and depth that make you think about the transforming experience of human existence. It is a kind of invitation to dive into man’s deepest soul and to feel and experience the deepest sounds of the symphony.
Human life has an invisible relief – depths, heights and valleys. All of this together forms life. Every step has its own value. Each work is a sequel to another. You need this to find the source of joy in yourself. Every painting is an event, a feeling or an emotion, in which silence, presence, the sense of being and transience play an important role. Each image plays its own role in the whole, which reinforces and strengthens everything. All details are equally important to me; I express them in an assemblage manner.
The transience of materials and the alchemical process of fusion plays an important role in my work. I see candle wax as a medium with which I can paint and create forms, structures, textures and dimensions. The material is a metaphor for inner silence and a “melted” past that radiates life force, energy and a moment of stillness, and at the same time refers to the invisible and the intangible. Through the flow of energy, a transformation of consciousness takes place that is filled with purity, softness, light and presence. A moment where being and non-being come together to merge and form a unit.
I like to bring different disciplines and techniques together in one image. I see this as an endless process in which different images in a different form and context constantly transform or take on and reappear in other forms. For example, a photo can become part of a film that fits in with the whole and is placed in a different context. Or a movie screenshot can become part of a collage that evokes a different feeling and atmosphere. I see my works as a re-used cycle of becoming and perishing, which continues and expands, where every detail and shape plays its own role. They are harmoniously linked in an image where intangible time, memory and transience are united.
By using different materials and their alchemical process I try to make the transitions between past, present and future tangible. I create a space within a space, where deep layers of consciousness arise, which have an endless depth. A merging is the search for truth between thinking and being with matter and time. In this way I simulate the search to find your inner mind, which is constantly changing.
My film “Մոռացում” (Oblivion) is about the story of my great-grandfather, who was sent to Armenia in a coffin after the Second World War. Before he was buried, the family thought it was better to open the coffin to make sure they did not feel the body belonged to someone else. When his family wanted to say their farewells, they touched him and felt his body was still warm. After a month, the doctors said he would never come back to life. But my great-grandmother took him home and cared for him herself. To the surprise of the doctors, he woke up from his coma after seven years and went on to live an active life until he was 86.
I see life as a film reel in which memories, feelings and emotions come together. Everything comes and goes, everything is only for a short time. The relationship between time and consciousness is important, which creates a transformed representation between our thinking, reality, emotions and feelings. In this way, you come into deeper contact with a mental space that creates a different reality and new meaning.
The message of my film is about the transience and cycles of human existence. Everything comes and goes, everything is only for a short time. Death is not only the end of a period, but also the beginning of a new phase in life. Life is endless and infinite, and birth and death are only transitions. Change always occurs, and destruction, devastation and decay lead to a new existence. I want to show that you have to appreciate, enjoy and have a positive outlook on your life, no matter how difficult the situation is. You will have to believe in your powers and be completely committed to achieving something in your life. Miracles in life do exist!
Words by Sona Sahakian.