cassandra tavukciyan

*I wanted to share my process behind my grad piece “լույս, Luys, Light”. Be warned, it’s insanely long and probably irrelevant/boring to most! But it’s more for myself to be able to express my ideas about my recent works.*

First, my project statement:

“լույս, Luys, Light” was my initial response to an old photograph of an Armenian couple that I discovered at a flea market in Yerevan, Armenia. My research for Armenian subjects in old photographs expanded as I began to find more photographs online. Through manual manipulation, I punctured and intervened the photographs within the confines of a light box. While thinking about the essence of photography (light projected onto subjects) I allow the light to shine through the punctures, returning the subjects of the photographs back to light after so many years of darkness. The holes are dealt with differently, figuratively or abstractly, depending on the photograph, enhancing the artist’s hand and authorship by claiming my personal agency to the photographic objects.                                                                   

The Armenian subjects are also relevant to the work and reflect upon my identity as an Armenian-Canadian, as well as the erasure and disappearance of Armenians in history. I wanted to create my own personal found family album from these images, while also referencing constellations, old religious paintings and the warmth of prayer candles intended to be burned as a votive offering in a religious ceremony, often present in Armenian churches. By using mark making as disfiguration, the photographs have new meaning and a new life, despite being permanently altered and lost from their original context and purpose.

My process:

The first image is a photograph I found at the Vernissage Market in Yerevan, Armenia. It’s been in possession since 2010 when I first visited Armenia. I’ve always kept tucked away in a box in my bedroom as a reminder of my first visit to Armenia. The photograph had no year, location or name on it at all. I always wondered about these people, who they were, what kind of life they lived. I knew one day I would want to make work about it, but I kept it hidden in the confines of my room. 

These past two terms at school I was having trouble “taking” photographs. While I often take photographs of my family and close friends I was left with similar and predictable images. I found that I received good feedback during my critiques, but I was wanting to expand my work and no longer be “that girl who takes photos of her family” all the time. While still thinking about visualizing the contemporary effects of displacement, resettlement and the interrelationship between memory and history, I wanted to examine the role of the “family” outside of my own family, as as broader subject.

My last term at ECU was challenging and at times difficult, because of a challenging teacher, who I ended up really appreciating. I knew I wanted to do something with that first image, but I wasn’t sure what. Throughout the term she began to make us realize and think more about “photography” as a subject on it own. She pushed me to try something different and through many meetings and critiques I began to think about photography in its purest form (light projected onto subjects). I wanted to re-photograph the Armenian photograph, bring it back to life from the dusty box in my room. I wanted to play with light as a subject as well, which led me to puncturing holes through the original photograph so the light would come through the holes, illuminating the figures.

Because I was taking a photo process printmaking class, I began to experiment in different ways in printing the image. The third image being a photolithography print I made. I found the print to enhance the mysterious and dark nature of the photograph and I really liked the ghostly figures that surfaced. The fourth and fifth images were more tests I made. I then wanted to find more images to work with, so I began searching on eBay for more Armenian photographs and I was lucky to find a set of 5 postcards from an Armenian in Bulgaria that fit perfectly with my project. I started making photolitho prints of those images as well, but felt that the prints were starting to flatten the images in a way that I didn’t want. Also, the original and authentic nature of the photographs themselves was lost, as these were now copies of the original. My teacher then suggested I make lightboxes with the photographs and this really excited me. After a few months of endless testing (and electrocuting myself!) I ended up with 5 lightboxes that contained the 5 original postcards. I am really pleased with final result, which is up right now until the 18th at the Emily Carr Grad Show!

I think that’s all for now and I really look forward to making more work now that I have graduated and have more spare time!