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Meri Karapetyan

May 18 - August 12, 2023

New York, 2023 – Atamian Hovsepian Curatorial Practice is pleased to present recent works by Meri Karapetyan on view from May 18 to August 12, 2023. This is the artists’ first exhibition in New York City. 


Georges Didi-Huberman writes that the artist is an inventor of places, that he walks on the edge of borders, crosses them, shapes them, gives flesh to improbable, impossible, and unthinkable spaces. Karapetyan turns to any material, medium, space, and time, trying to commit to the process of border crossing, deconstruction, redefinition, and re-quotation. Karapetyan notes: “It seems that each type of border blends so naturally with what surrounds it that I am no longer able to completely separate these processes, overcome or understand the differences.” It is here that the work of border disarmament and deconstruction finds its expression in art. Indeed, the work of art itself can fulfill this mission because it is not subject to any limits or definitions – it is independent of all existing borders and barriers.


The site-specific installations presented are Mari Karapetyn’s latest works, titled “հայհայ” series. Karapetyan multiplies the word “հայ” or “Armenian,” bending it in two different directions, into the shape of barbed wire, which in turn questions the many manifestations of the border. Using the word “Armenian” as a sign, she raises several semiotic, cultural, and identity-related issues. Using a fine copper wire and some rolled gauze to print the word “հայ,” she frees the word from sentence and context, weaving a web, connecting hundreds of “հայ”s, thus erecting a barrier. The latter is passable and fragile, touchable, and interactive, and the shadows of the metal letters once again create an imitation of a barrier, as if they both exist and do not exist…


Unlike the “Copper Mesh,” the “Wall” is made of medical gauze, produced in Armenia. By transporting the bins from Armenia to Paris, and then from Paris to New York, the artist plays with the ideas of mobility and non-stability of the border, which is mutable and displaceable.  


The half-demolished bandage wall, its lettering printed with a stamp, speaks simultaneously of pain and healing, of a wall that can also be passed (to cross, to pass), of barbed wire and an Armenian cruciform knot. By creating a “space within a space” and using the installation to create a border, Karapetyan explores ideas about borders and their function within physical and conceptual spaces. For Karapetyan, site-specific installations are not only a way of engaging with space but also a way of exploring the relationship between physical and conceptual boundaries.


Meri Karapetyan is a graduate of Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts, she is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. Her current series “Recollected Borders” problematizes the notion of the border itself. Karapetyan “conjugates” the border as if it were a verb, examining the border from a wide variety of angles ranging from the physical to the psychological and metaphysical. She thus deconstructs the notion of borders –from everyday borders that we experience in almost every aspect of our daily lives to the borders between states and nations: “What else, if not the artwork itself, is meant to deconstruct the notion of the border? Isn’t art the only way to “disarm” that notion…(and) eventually take up the primary role of the border defining the undefinable.” As she mentions in her artist’s statement in a nod to Richard Serra, her artwork “speaks the languages of space.” Karapetyan’s brilliant appropriation of barbed wire in Blossomed Barbed Wire–wherein delicate black flowers take the place of the barbs themselves–are also a nod to her native Armenia’s troubled geopolitical situation.

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