Dame Gulizar and Other Love Stories, Rebecca Topakyan

With Dame Gulizar and Other Love Stories, Rebecca Topakian takes as a starting point the only stories she knows about her armenian family, who lived in Turkey before emigrating to France : the impossible love between her great-grand-parents – Garabed and Gulizar – and the kidnapping of Gulizar by her future husband. This almost mythological story lead her to Armenia, where she confronted her fictional and romantic vision of the fatherland with a very contemporary angle on a modern-day Armenia. Mixing family pictures that she printed on local stones, romantic and mystic landscapes with contemporary portraits, she reversed the axis of the love story : instead of a Gulizar being kidnapped, she impersonates a new Gulizar reclaiming herself as a desiring subject in the context of a patriarchal culture. The men and the landscapes, which her camera ‘kidnaps’ from the constraints of patriarchy and national mythology are brought into the domain of feminine intimacy and imagination. In this space, both she and her male subjects are allowed to transcend normative social codes and communicate not through force but through the sensuality of seduction. Searching and curious, it is a force that charts new landscapes in which belonging and identity are conditioned by romantic longing for connection. It is a process in which the viewer becomes an accomplice thanks to the photograph – a medium which can be as heartlessly oppressive as it can be infinitely generous towards diverse and fragile points of view.

Rebecca Topakian (b. 1989)

After two bachelor degrees in Philosophy and Geography at the Sorbonne, Rebecca Topakian continued her research at the National Photography School of Arles (ENSP), France, graduating in 2015. Playing with the boundaries between artistic and documentary forms, her work aims to point at the possibility of representation of personal identity in its relation to groups, communities or collective history, through intimacy, with a strong focus on bodies and their sensuality. She exhibited her work in several galleries and festivals in France and abroad (Biennale de l’Image Possible, Liège (BE), Photography Biennale in Mulhouse (FR), Art Centre of Villa Arson, Nice (FR), Festival Circulation(s), Rencontres d’Arles), and so on. Her book “Infra” was recently published by Classe Moyenne Éditions.

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