“REFLORATION” project/exhibition

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english | armenian

October 16-23, 2011

artist SEVAK GRIGORYAN, curators HARUTYUN ALPETYAN, NVARD YERKANIAN

Talking about sex is both easy and difficult at the same time. It’s as easy as talking about eating. But it’s difficult because when you talk about sex, the subject matter compels the formation of sexual order. That, however, does not imply that talking about sex is pointless or useless. In fact the opposite holds, talking about sex is essential because of sexual issues and their unique characteristics. These have become the main preoccupation of Sevag Grigoryan in the body of work currently displayed. The issue here is again the relationship of sexuality and language, esp. within the context of today’s Armenian linguistic conceptions in our every language. It is interesting to see how various sexual and gender taboos and sanctions are expressed in language. These taboos and sanctions are transferred from generation to generation through an oral tradition remaining as a key formative force in the sexual evolution of the individual in this society. Moreover, these taboos and sanctions become yet another tool for depriving the individual of private freedoms.

An instance of such taboos and sanctions is virginity regardless of gender (but more frequently related to female virginity). Virginity remains in oral circulation within the various strata of society at least as a subject of criticism but more often as a critical factor in the moral valuation of a person. Purity, evergreeness , obedience, innocence are the positive attributes associated with virginity. These concepts engender all the negative attributes associated with the loss of virginity or deflowering. Vile, depraved, slut, wench, sinner, and the like are such negative terms. Even etymologically “deflowering” implies loss of beauty, plucking of life from earth, wilting, and in general the start of degenerative processes.

Emphasizing the aesthetic aspect of sex in visual language, Sevag Grigoryan makes the distortions and false formulations in today’s Armenian more appearant. With no intention of encouraging depravity or total permissiveness, the artist suggests a cross fertilization of linguistic analysis and sexual experience as a model of healthy evolution of sexuality. Analysis as motivation to overcome those complexes that are clearly reflected in language and speech and experience as a reliable approach to verify the gained freedoms. The consciousness that relies on individual freedom and experience reconstructed on interpersonal love is Sevag Grigoryan suggests as a path to a liberated sexuality.

Harutyun Alpetyan

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I was ten when I learned how children are born. In fact, it became clear that the birth of a child is tightly connected with sex and certain profanities. The idea that a child was the result of an immense love started to sound like fiction.
***
I have never had a chance to speak with my parents about sex. Until the age of 14, we used to ask for advice from our older friends. They often gave us advice about sex. Then one day, we learned that they themselves have never had sex and that they were ashamed to admit it.
***
One day our friend, Samo, made a comment: “A guy has to beat his wife in the mornings and fuck her at nights.”
***
Edgar was married and had a kid. I asked once why he was visiting prostitutes so often. He looked at me surprised and said “Bro, have you seen that woman in which DeNiro says ‘with those lips my wife kisses my children …”
***
Arman was the guy popping Kristina’s cherry. The guys learned about that very quickly. After that for a long time Gago was trying to convince Arman to pass along Kristine to him … and then Edo tried to convince Arman …
***
I don’t know how to say to her that it’s good to add variety in sex. I am tired of the same position, same kisses, same room, same preludes, …
***
My first sexual encounter was with a girl. I was 16. She was 21 but had managed to already divorce once. No doubt, she was much more experienced than me. We met only four times. She was always asking why I don’t touch, caress her vagina. Finally when I asked her why, she could hardly resist laughing. Maybe she didn’t want to offend me. With that all between us ended.
***
One day I heard something like this: “Bro, our upstairs neighbor is totally nuts … he was having sex with his wife while she was pregnant.”
***
One day I discovered for myself that many of my friends masturbate even though they are passed 40 and have parnters.
***
My friend was 20 when he lost his father. After a year, his mother started dating this guy. That was tough for my friend. For a long time he wasn’t talking to his mother. After a while the neighbors learned about her mother. One day my friend came home and saw written on his door “Janna, the Whore”
***
– Have you really had fantastic sex with your wife?
– Hey, hey. I don’t like questions like that.
– Why? For instance, I have never had great sex with my husband.
– And why didn’t you get divorced?
– Who’s gonna take care of the kids?
***
– Let’s try it in the kitchen today. There’s no one at home …
– Girl, you’re crazy? We eat here!
– OK then maybe in the large room.
– I think you’ve been watching some kinky movies, huh? Or did you learn that slutty stuff from your mother.
***
Bro, if you want to bring a girl home you have to follow her from school years to be sure that she’s virgin. If the parents won’t give the girl, you can steal her.
***
By now it’s become very ordinary to lie down on this couch. To feel the cold metal tools. I remember the first time I learned I was pregnant. First I thought to keep the child. But soon I realized that it’s not that easy. The guy immediately offered some money for me to get an abortion and disappeared. If my father learned about this, he would have thrown me out of the house. Where would I go at the age of 20 with a kid in my arms … So I took the money and killed my baby. Today is my 6th abortion. But I am used it by now. The doctor asked why don’t I protect myself. I explained that my friend doesn’t like protection. The doctor said that there are ways for women to get protected. But I know for sure that these are harmful.
***
I’ve been pregnant for 5 months. The gynacologist says that until month 7 I can have sex and the child won’t be hurt. I said this to my husband. He shouted at me, said I’ve lost my mind. With his kind in my belly, he will not have sex with me. I said let’s go talk to the doctor. He said that I am not allowed to go to that doctor anymore.
***
I was 10. I was lying down to sleep, as always early. I couldn’t fall sleep. I was tossing from side to side. I then noticed that my blanket is twisted between my legs and I’m rubbing myself against it. I didn’t understand what was happening but felt this warmth flash rough my body. I stared shaking, stretched the fingers on my toes, … I was terrified. Immediately I changed my position and fell asleep. A few days later the same thing happened again. After that, from time to time, the same thing would happen. At the time I didn’t know what was happening to me. But I was convinced that it was very bad and that if mother knew about it she would be very angry with me. But I have to admit in the many years since then that I’ve never felt the same with any man. And now when my husband goes to work I occasionally masturbate.
***
-What do you think about when you masturbate? What do you imagine?
-Well. I have a few fantasies. But most often I think about the same thing.
-Yah? What are they. I’m so interesting to me?
-Well. One of the fantasies is that I’m walking down the street late at night and a man walks up from behind and presses himself against me. He then pushes me against a wall, lifts my skirt and takes me. Afterwards he leaves me. I never see his face.
***
I sometime ask myself, if there weren’t the kids would I stay with him? Would I tolerate his constant betrayals and disdainful treatment? I really am not that bad in bed. Why does he prefer to go to prostitutes? When we were just married that’s not how it was. He was attentive … he would bring me flowers. He would always come home after work. After our first child was born, he suddenly became cold. Every day he would go to this place or that place with his friends. And I, like a detainee, had to stay home, to take care of the child. But I’m not even 30 yet. I want to feel like I am being loved. I want to be desired.
***
– How much money did you work last night?
– Well … at first it was 20,000 but then he said that his friends are coming. So I stayed with him. It was good. They were done fast and fell asleep. I made 70,000. I’m satifisfied.
– Are you gonna go out tonight also?
– No. I’m gonna rest tonight. The kid has been with my mother all week. I want to take him out tonight … maybe for a carousel ride.
– Any news from kid’s father?
– Yeah right. Of course not. At first he at least sent some money. But now not even that. What would I be doing here if he was around and supporting? I’m doing this just to support my kid.
– But he’s gonna find out one day. No? What will you do?
– What you talking about. He’s not gonna find out. If he does, I’ll kill myself.
***
Is he going to be my last man? So that it? No one else? Never? No other men will see me naked for the first time, kiss me? No one else body will touch mine? Will no one else’s body be as close and intimate to me?
***
-Does he know you’re not a virgin?
-Not yet. We haven’t talked about it. But I have to tell him.
-Are you nuts? You’re wedding is in two weeks.
-He will understand. He loves me. I’ll explain. Who hasn’t made mistakes. I’m sure he’s made mistakes in his life. I was young. I didn’t understand. They deceived me.
-If I were you I wouldn’t tell him. If change your mind I can take you to my uncle’s wife. She works at the Margaryan Institute. She can solve those problems.
***
-Have you ever felt so good with a man.
-No. And you?
-Not me either.
***
How related are love and sex? Who should I trust more? The person who tells me that he loves me but sleeps with other women or the person who don’t sing me love songs but want to sleep with me. Of these two, who is more honest? I don’t know.
Nvard Yerkanian and Harutyun Alpetyan

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photos by nvard yerkanian

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