Shadows of Dust, 2001

Shadows of Dust, alike its predecessor “Collapse of Illusions”, which took place exactly one year before, took the concept of bringing art into public one more step forward. Instead of indoors, “Shadows of Dust” took place in the outdoors, on the paths, alleys, and on and around fountains and pedestals of the boulevard across the Center for Contemporary Experimental Art in Yerevan, Capital of Armenia. Once again attempt was made to combine video art with live performance within installations. Once again, art was taken to the social environment and attempted to induce audience/public participation, on much larger and spontaneous level. Once again different media and approaches, formerly explored in my work, simultaneously converged and opened up into a space where I worked with larger issues, on a larger scale than ever before.
At the dusk of that late September evening passers by and invitees gradually gathered around three giant outdoor screens, where my videos were being projected. Seven black-robed, hooded performers, resembling monks, walked among the audience in procession, each holding an open winged taxidermised eagle above the head. A virgin was walking around with crosses marked on her open hands in blood; a princess was sitting still on a throne, while another masked woman was struggling restlessly in a cage. On one of the large screens, an aristocratic old lady was telling the story and sufferings of her family’s exodus after the Armenian Genocide of 1915, while on another giant screen, across, contemporary Armenian women were continuously complaining in desperation of conditions of their lives, and hopeless situation they were in. The screen in the middle depicted scenes from the Armenian urban and natural landscapes, a long pedestrian tunnel, interrupted by the images of a trapeze walking on tight-rope, and the virgin submerged in the waters of Lake Sevan, drowning…
High, above what was happening on the ground, the real-life trapeze was doing his balancing act on the tightrope stretched overhead.
The general theme of the piece was based on free interpretation of an excerpt from “The Ancient Gods” of Armenian dramatist of the early 20th century, Levon Shant, paraphrased as follows:

“Have you seen the sun rise, blind man?”
“Yes, I have seen it by my own eyes, and I have carved
my eyes out, so that they cannot see anymore.”
“You carved your eyes by your own hands?”
“No, not by my hands, but by the power of my will…”

The work ended with a giggling toddler running from one side of the central screen to the other, back and forth, and gradually disappearing on the background of an ancient brick wall.

CREDITS Writer, Designer and Director: Sonia Balassanian Camera: Sonia Balassanian Editor: Missak Khachatrian Theatrical Director: Gagik Ghazareh Music Consultant: Eva Khachatrian Set Accessories: Samuel Abgarian Performers: NPAK Experimental Theater Group