My place is empty: memories of a disappearing city, Piruza Khalapyan

The search for new forms representation of past resulted in this art project of P. Khalapyan, an Armenian photojournalist and documentary artist. A subject for studies in various disciplines, the urban space, as a descriptive object often becomes central for contemporary artists, which can fully confirm the relevance of this art project.

In the era of post truth, the collective memory is exposed to various manipulative transformations of political discourses and often faces a problem of total or partial amnesia. Private or personal memories, by contrast, continue to search for the new narrative possibilities of self-representation. The status of a document in modern culture is being increasingly questioned and drowned into falsification processes easily, submitting to this or that authoritative discourse. Within the bounds of her artistic project, My place is empty, and due to her artistic sensitivity and determination, the author takes the plunge, moving from documentary to art letter. She chooses trans-medial way of storytelling by the use of verbal and visual materials. Talking about traumatic past, the artist does not try to document and reconstruct the city as an object of her study but she composes the city image with the help of self-narrativization. The public and the public space are presented through the prism of author’s personal experiences, feelings and memories, and find their reflection both in the project title (equalizing value and importance of city’s memory with the personal memory), and in tools of expression (text, photo, video).

Pursuing the main line of her early projects, she describes the disappearing, crumbling and collapsed space through her personal experiences that are related to certain topos. Traumatic past is an object for the image but not only, it is a personal experience of a subject, the storyteller. The whole project involves various temporal and spatial visual modalities that create the necessary depth and extend narrative’s trajectory.

If the language of documentary image tends to fill lacunas, restore the integrity of selected characters, making a factography of spaces and territories and, again, filling the missing signs, then the artistic language possesses an exceptional potency to emphasize the absence and the emptiness as a fundamental way of perception of the world. It is this loss and lack of object that becomes central in the artistic project of Piruza Khalapyan.

Her extensive experience in visual media, successful completion of various collective projects, multimedia and exhibition programs, and her publications in prestigious journals create all necessary knowledge and skills for the implementation of proposed project and leave no doubt that it will attract the attention of art community and wider audience.


Tigran Amiryan
Ph.D. Independent Curator
Cultural & Social Narratives laboratory

Piruza Khalapyan (b. 1983) is a photographer, member of 4plus organization, aimed to unite Armenian women documentary photographers. She started working as a professional photojournalist in 2006 and currently focuses on personal artistic projects, related to current socio-political situation of Armenia, Post-Soviet personal and collective memory and national identity. Phiruza has won the Best Documentary film award of ES EM film festival, NA/NE Contest for Journalists (British Council in Yerevan, OSCE Yerevan Office, UN Foundation). Lives and works in Yerevan, Armenia.

Courtesy of the artist