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Indepth Arts News:

"Mélik Ohanian: You're mY destinY"
2003-03-27 until 2003-05-04
Atlanta College of Art, Woodruff Arts Center
Atlanta, GA, USA United States of America

Atlanta College of Art Gallery is pleased to present Mélik Ohanian: You're mY destinY, a multimedia installation project predicated on the entanglements of fate and identity. A young French-Armenian artist, Mélik Ohanian (b. 1969) is a leading member of the "new generation" of artists working in France, an echelon distinguished by the diversity, conceptual orientation, technological and theoretical savvy of its participants. Conceptually sophisticated and philosophically interrogative, Ohanian's installations — which combine film, sculptural elements, sound and text — are also characteristically sensual and aesthetically oriented.

Ohanian's oeuvre includes Island of an Island, a project on chance and encounter. While searching the internet for virgin territory, seeking places without national or cultural identity, Ohanian stumbled on the island of Surtsey, near Iceland, produced in 1963 by volcanic activity and given by consensus to the international scientific community for purposes of study. Ohanian combined research, travel, film and ingenious design into a stunning multi-media installation on questions of place and the origins of identity. Island of an Island premiered for the opening of the long-anticipated contemporary exhibition venue, Palais de Tokyo, in Paris, in 2001.

You're mY destinY

An Atlanta College of Art Gallery commission, Ohanian's You're mY destinY is based on the recent and accidental discovery of his homonym living in New York City. Led to this connection through a search for his Armenian roots, Ohanian re-imagines the Armenian exile (after the genocide of 1915) and uncovers its resonance in terms that are personal to the artist as well as historically and philosophically speculative.

You're mY destinY is predicated on family lore, on the story of the artist's Armenian grandfathers, orphaned as children, forced arbitrarily onto 1 of 3 boats headed to different destinations — New York, Marseille and Buenos Aires — and different destinies. Ohanian's grandfathers arrived in Marseille during the 1920s and his family has since lived in France. In terms of legend, his destiny — as migration turned into exile — could just as easily have unfolded in New York or Buenos Aires. This is where the project begins — with three options, mapped by the "Y" in the exhibition title. Ohanian has found "Melik Ohanian" in New York (MO-NYC), and seeks another double in Buenos Aires. He plans to collaborate with MO-NYC to imagine their third counterpart as a fictional character, and to recreate elements of their lives — the qualities endowed by fate — for a final installation.

The project, which the artist says will develop "like an investigation; an artistic investigation," involves Ohanian's meeting with MO-NYC and the documentation of their evolving connection and shared imagination. For the project, Ohanian will also visit Armenian communities in Buenos-Aires and Chicago. The installation at ACA Gallery will include video, sculpture, sound and text components.

Curated by Dr. Lisa Fischman, Director, ACA Gallery, You're mY destinY at Atlanta College of Art Gallery marks the first solo presentation of Mélik Ohanian's work in the United States. Ohanian will be in residence at ACA prior to the opening of the exhibition, and will offer a public lecture on his work as part of the evening's events.


Mélik Ohanian has presented solo exhibitions at Galerie Novuona (Rome), Art Unlimited (Basel, Switzerland) and Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France), and has participated in group exhibitions throughout Europe (Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris; Foundation Cartier, Paris; Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon; Secession, Vienna; and the 2nd Montenegro Biennial, Cetinjé) and in the US (at SF MoMA). The recipient of several grants in support of his work from the French Government, Ohanian has frequently collaborated with older French artists - most notably Pierre Huyghe. In 2003, he participates in No Ghost Just a Shell, an exhibition staged by the Kunsthalle Zurich featuring innovative new-media projects about AnnLee, a manga character to whom Philippe Parreno and Pierre Huyghe purchased rights in 1999. Ohanian's work has been reviewed in many European and internationally distributed publications, including ArtForum, Art Press, Art Actual, Beaux Arts magazine, Flash Art International, Le Journal des Arts and Le Monde. Ohanian, who lives and works in Paris, is represented by Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.

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