January 15, 2009


In 1994 Youth exhibition at the Painters’ Union, Diana Hakobian presented her piece “The Flight is Normal” in which the blurry photograph of a young girl was superimposed upon the handwritten and repetitive text – “1 min. –the flight is normal”, which continues until “14 min. the flight is normal.” The emotional subtlety and fragile subjectivity have been present in Hakobian’s works since the beginning of her artistic career, despite ACT’s (the conceptual artists' group she was a member of -1994-1995) conscious and programmatic refusal to either situate and/or solicit the position of the subject in post-Soviet Armenia. In their agenda of logical positivism in which reality was perceived as ultimately reducible to a set of rules and scientific laws and thus, knowable, the articulations of subjectivity were an irrelevant discourse. As opposed to this, Hakobian’s works of the 1990s introduce the normalcy of the everyday to the field of aesthetic experience through banal and repetitive statements and familiar language. Thus they create a rupture within this very normalcy they tend to reproduce. Rather than heroically claiming a capacity to transform society as an artistic project, like her male counterparts from ACT would do, in Hakobian’s work the everyday and the trivial appear as the main domains in which a subversion can take place through a slightly different performance.
In “The Flight is Normal”, the everyday is estranged from the subjective experiences of those very actors who participate in and constitute it. This rupture between the everyday and its translated experience on the aesthetic field is then produced by the repetitive and banal utterance, which has the appearance of mass information, but not the sensational and scandalous forms of its message. The repetition of normalcy as an aesthetic practice, is that which can subvert the routine repetition of everyday life. In “The Flight is Normal”, this subversion with an implied threat to the fragile subjectivity, is contained in the promise of the future since the work only accommodates fourteen minutes of “normalcy” report. What is about to happen on the fifteenth, sixteenth and other subsequent minutes, is beyond the narrative frame of the work. It is this sense of implied but not materialized threat and the promise (rather than direct realization) of the overthrowing of the regime of normalcy that distances Hakobian from ACT’s self-centered and self-knowing revolutionary subjects.

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