I work backwards as a filmmaker. For me to find the story, first I need to be inspired by a physical space which conjures the characters and the emotions. Detroit gave me my aesthetic by introducing me to empty spaces. I watch as light moves across abandoned structures being taken back by nature, dying and being reborn. In Armenia I spied in kitchen corners, where personal family conversations were being held. The front lines of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, deep in the Caucasus mountains, brought me visions of a soldier and his twin sister, caught in the abyss that is grief. A gated garden, green and lush in the summer heat gave me an image of a nude woman, standing unashamed, looking directly at me. Spaces dictate the tone and feed me the seeds of the story which come forth only when I indulge my curiosity and explore.
I am made from my immigrant upbringing, juxtaposing the world of classical paintings I studied. Rembrandt’s Head of Christ resemble Armenian men pondering philosophical questions over mulberry vodka. Vermeer’s use of light seeps into Soviet apartment buildings and becomes the aesthetic goal for a lighting set up. Caravaggio’s compositions dictate the energy of the scene I am blocking. Van Gogh taught me perseverance. Dutch still life painting made me see the grandeur of life’s minutiae. Artemisia reflected my feminine gaze.
I have become Baudelaire’s flaneur, “To see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world.” I have become the spectator and I watch eagerly the subtleties which give away our secrets. I lay down my film frames around the microcosms of what is indiscernible between you and I: emotions. To say what artists have said from the beginning. To remind us of what we have always known. I slow down time in a dark theatre, a camera obscura, and build a world 24 frames per second to meditate on the darkness inside us all in hope of finding the light and answering the eternal question, “Why?”
I am an explorer plotting the depths of the unseen. The abyss of emotions, unchanged from the earliest stories of human history and still vastly uncharted…