art historian & art critic
I learnt about “planned power shutdown” earlier than got to know what “cottage cheese” was. Since I was born at a time, when there was no other type of life around, questioning the reality of the early 90s or dreaming of an alternative did not even cross my mind. I was getting acquainted with the reality, disclosing it, and accepting what was there. In my immediate experience, the Karabakh war was an undeniable reality that conditioned my lifestyle, while the latter conditioned my daily life. The abyss between that child and my present-day self is enormous. The latter is filled with bitterness when thinking about the Karabakh war and is trying to ask the other self what it was, how it affected both of them, how to formulate it? But the other self does not have either an answer. She is painting, sitting at a low table.
Artefact, by definition, is a consequence. It is the consequence of many layers of human activity which accumulate throughout the whole process and beyond of the creation of an object to its obtaining the status of an artefact. A thing is created, lives its own life, then it becomes important as the bearer of this past life and continues its life as historical value.
In case of the project “Consequence: Artefact”, the work of art is created based on the consequence of another process. This is where the consequence becomes the artifact.
Areg Balayan participated in April war, Edik Boghosian is a witness of Iran-Iraq war. They have come into contact with the phenomenon of war from different perspectives, but for both of them, war is an immediate lived reality, their own experience. They both clearly know that war is not just military actions, but the consequences they leave behind that sometimes last throughout the whole life of a participant or a witness. 
Areg Balayan’s photo series tell about people on whose lives the consequences of war are mostly obvious: artificial eye, artificial leg, deformed body, distorted features, blindness. In some cases, the consequences of war are not so obvious. And here author’s texts come to help.
Edik Boghosian’s objects, in their turn, consist of remnants of the objects of the war, i.e., the consequences of war, which have undergone aesthetic revision. The object, losing both its function and its original appearance, enters the art space to present itself as a consequence of war.
At the same time, it legitimizes its being in the art space with its status as a work of art. The latter becomes possible due to the author’s intention and the actions that follow. The author selects the pieces, arranges and compares them, modifies their shape. Artist’s main task, in this case, is to put the elements of the object in a relationship with each other. This allows the objects to be living units continuing their lives in an alternate way, and not be dead remnants of extinct life.
The same tendency can be seen in Areg Balayan’s photo series. The heroes of the series are important not only for their past, but for how that past acts now, what their destiny is like after the disaster, how their lives go on, and not just how they were destroyed.
Turning tragic events into works of art, talking about them in the works of art, keeping them alive through works of art, and in general, the relationship between disaster and art are problematic. If such a work of art is influential, it implies that the perceiver is overwhelmed by the tragedy the work of art embodies. The more successful the embodiment is, the deeper  is the impact. The latter, while hurting and shocking the perceiver, at the same time gives them pleasure: the tragedy survived through art gives them illusion of being purified, as if they have placed something within their chest that is bigger than that. This feeling comes from a sympathy for the disaster survivor. However, the enjoyment of the work of art as a succeeded cultural phenomenon and pain of empathy seem to equalize, begin to complement each other and eventually intertwine. This moral conflict arising in the viewer passes through the entire project. It is particularly acute in the case of Areg Balayan’s photo titled “The Three Brothers”. There are two young boys sitting on three barrels. The third barrel is empty. It is clear that the third, empty seat belongs to the third brother, who has become an innocent victim of hostilities. The tragic reality and the successful idea of the work unite and target one point where admiration and regret are inseparable. Unwillingly you start thinking if this feeling of admiration is not a sin towards the memory of that child.
Technically the project is built on a relationship between space and image principles, which at the content level turn into complex interaction between abstraction and concrete experience.
Areg Balayan’s series consist of photos, i.e., from images reproducing reality. Edik Boghosian’s objects are reality itself, existing in space. These real objects, however, appearing in the space of art are reshaped as abstract volumes that carry the memory of experience of war. The experience the viewer has in dealing with them is not a war experience, but watching a work of art. In case of Balayan’s series, it is important to note that the photos, which he created based on the personal stories of real people become anonymous within the project, lose their personal and even geographical affiliation and turn into generalized symbols of war as a disaster, examples of tragedy, means of formulating the consequences of war as a global phenomenon. Thus, the series of paradoxes continues. Objects distorted by war transform into abstract volumes, and at the same time become very specific physical objects in the space of art. Individual stories, turning into images, turn into symbols while preserving their visual uniqueness. However, approaches to the essence of work of art and material are not limited to this in the project.
One of Edik Boghosian’s works is an installation that is technically a war-damaged roof of a car turned into a table. There are breads on it. On the one hand, it is a simple symbolism, so simple that it may look banal. Bread, as a symbol of life and well-being, enters into a vivid contradiction with a flat, damaged surface of the table as a symbol of disaster. This banality of symbols threatens to devalue the idea. However, installation is primarily a physical object, which implies that one must experience it on the physical level. Only then does it exert its full influence. Sitting at a table created from the remnants of a damaged car which offers you bread means physically entering a war zone, even if it is conditional. The war that passed through the art is an idea that can be formulated endlessly. But war, as a reality happening here and now, is the daily, uncomfortable, tense, exhausting life. Bread is not the symbol of life, but the opportunity of life. The environment is not a means of reproducing the tragedy, but a place of daily life full of tension and danger. Living that daily life physically and turning it into a symbol are two different actions. Edik’s installation suggests doing the first one.
Another installation is presented by Areg Balayan. He brings distorted household things to the world of art without performing any action on them. This is the only example of absolute readymade in the whole exhibition. However, unlike the avant-garde readymade, which is meant to direct the viewer’s attention to the environment, distracting them from the work of art, it is first and foremost a historical fact, silent bearer of the reality.
In our conversation about the experience of war, Areg Balayan noted that during the war, especially immediately after conscription, he had a feeling that he had lost all social ties and turned into a pure essence. The proximity to death, which takes a person out of the logic of their daily routine and reminds them that they are still alive, often becomes the focus of works of art - films, and literature (from philosophical prose to huge-budget thrillers). But for Areg it is not an artistic trick. It is his immediate experience with which he seeks to interact in peaceful life. At every moment, the feeling of realizing the existence of his own self, which he experienced because of being so close to death, he strives to maintain to this day. I say: “It’s not possible to do it constantly.” “Why isn’t it possible?” he asks. And he says it in a way for me to understand that “It really is possible”. 
For Edik Boghosian, the reality of war has also been a part of his childhood, in another context, as the events of Iran-Iraq war took place in front of his eyes. Interestingly, he finds similarities between Iran and Karabakh and, while working on a piece on Karabakh, he reflects on the problems of his dear Iran in the depth of his work. The word “dear” is not chosen by accident. Speaking of Iran, Edik’s voice radiates a different kind of warmth.
“Do you know what I understood?” he says. “I realized that war is lovely.” And immediately emphasizes, “Not beautiful, but lovely. In Karabakh they called it ghashang”. It’s a new word for me, and I’m trying to understand what Edik means. Probably he means that “beauty” is decent, harmonious, and “lovely” is interesting, regardless of the difficult reality that gave birth to it. This burden is intertwined with the aesthetic qualities of the object, and they are inseparable from now on.
The aesthetic element is present and important in both parts of the project. Areg’s photos, besides depicting history, are also great shots with convincing compositions, subtle intertwining of lighting and color. Edik’s objects are interactions of volume, texture, subtle color shades; their aesthetic function is a prerequisite for their existence, and their aesthetic influence is an integral part of their  implementation.
This project has no ambition to answer the question of what war is. On the contrary, it emphasizes that war is multi-layered, ambiguous, and at times incomprehensible. War can be analyzed and interpreted from many perspectives: political, social, ethical, psychological, and even aesthetic. But these analyses are merely means to approach, but not to disclose it. What does it mean for the one who took part in it? What does it mean for a child who witnessed bombing? What does it mean for a child whose world is so deeply conditioned by the war that they do not even realize it, as you do not realize that you breathe until you start suffocating? The importance of the project is exactly that: it does not provide answers, but opens up ways to deal with the incomprehensible. It enables you to see and touch the phenomenon through its consequences.
Edik says: “Before something happens, they talk about the consequences, because by predicting the consequences, they try to prevent it. When it has already happened, they start talking about the reasons as they try to find who is guilty. We have made consequences important.”
Indeed, the causes and roots of war are now receiving more attention than the consequences. It is uncomfortable to deal with consequences, as it might reveal that the Karabakh war is not just about heroic will and victory. It is about victims, blood, fear, pain and the endless waiting for death. The latter is the most unnatural state for the human being, whatever the circumstances.
My present self is sitting at the computer now, writing these lines, it’s a quiet day around. But the little one who is still in the 90s, distracted from the painting for a moment, tells this older self that the war always hides itself somewhere close, waiting for the right moment to happen, to come true, to put its monstrous and obscure essence to work.  By a whim of fate, the little one is wiser, because, though from distance and mediated, she is experiencing the war, not thinking about it as something separate from her.
The project “Consequence: Artefact” project helps the viewer unite the idea and experience, awaken the two selves. It reminds of warfare and the processes of forgetting it, evading from and getting used to it, and allowsrethinking it. It is a ghashang (lovely) project.

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