Hrair Sarkissian

Podbielski Contemporary
24 September - 15 November 2011

Hrair Sarkissian belongs to a new generation of promising Middle Eastern artists, now internationally acknowledged. In his work Hrair Sarkissian raises issues of identity, politics, faith and space. Hrair Sarkissian presently lives in Damascus and London. The show is organised in collaboration with Kalfayan Galleries Athens-Thessaloniki. For the occasion a brochure will be published with a short essay by Nico Anklam.

The Zebiba series (2007) consists of portraits of pious men in Egypt who all have the ĄZebiba˘ or prayer scar on their foreheads, caused by kneeling on a prayer rug or a Mussallah (Stone of God) and touching the ground with one˘s forehead. On one level, the worshipper aspires to disinvest himself from earthly culture. Paradoxically, the desire to become invisible when facing god, renders him more visible within his social environment. Overall it raises the universal issue of religious faith, integration, and tolerance.

The Churches series (2009) is realised in Amsterdam, a new and unfamiliar environment with different cultural coding. The photographed churches no longer serve as sacred spaces, but have been turned into public ones for social activities, such as reception halls, or music and dance clubs. By intentionally using only scarce natural light, these spaces are invested with a mystical atmosphere, which they otherwise no longer possess through their new function.

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