Arman Grigoryan

I am a Painter 2000


Medium: VHS video

Arman Grigoryan video “I am a painter 2000” deals with the problem of the formation of artistic work today: it exposes the socialization of an artist as a process of conflict between the wish potential of the individual and institutions and media as the embodiment of societal concepts rather then as a random process of social formation. Grigoryan insisting in the legislative act of signification, his repeating of the status of being an artist makes it strikingly clear that there is no return to the model of the body – and thus of course to the model of the subject – that is not interpreted exclusively through cultural meanings. In this context Grigoryan’s video “I am a painter 2000” can be seen within a context of contemporary art production that is internationally great value.
Arman Grigoryan interest in his own biography, in the internal “exoticism” his role as an artist represents, is by no means a romantic one. His work incorporates the cultural capital of disruption and continuity as experienced in the family and society at large, his consciousness of a different social or historical construction and a complex web of personal experiences. The question of belonging (to what?) becomes an existential challenge for him. Through reduction to narrated and very abstract notions, the images of the naked body collide as if by coincidence with the monologue concerning the self definition if the artist.
Grigoryan says:”Everyone is potentially familiar with my experience, thanks to the far-reaching hand of capitalist media formations”. Grigoryan presents his ironic arguments against the concept of depersonalization through adaptation to the new cultural space that is defined solely in economic terms by apologists for the new liberal globalization fantasies. Or viewed the other way around: they expose the problems posed by reduction at the expense of the subject. In this sense I think that Grigoryan is one of the most interesting artistic figures in the region and has the creative potential to become a key figure of the international artistic discourse concerning problems of identity-construction and transcultural dialoge.
For mi the general value of the represented work is very high. The metaphor of inscription on the body and the constitution if the body through those inscriptions have been widely used in recent attempts to theorize the body. Michel Foucault calls the body the “inscribed surface of events” and Elizabeth Grosz argues that the “female (or male) body can no longer be regarded as a fixed, concrete substance, a pre-cultural given. It has a determinate form only by being socially inscribed”. The body becomes plastic, inscribed with gender and cultural standards. The constitution of the body rests in its inscription; the body becomes the text which is written upon it and from which it is indistinguishable. Grigoryan’s work is not just an illustration of these insights but more, an artistic transcription of high formal strength and quality.
The enormous growth of interest in works like this on an international level could make it a key-work for contemporary art in Armenia.
Georg Schollhammer. 2003