artists explore relationships to 'Wounded Places' in exhibition

Far Away From Where? is on view at The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center's Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, 66 Fifth Avenue, The New School

Artist's Talk with Hrair Sarkissian: March 2, 6-8 p.m. On view through March 5

"Making Home in Wounded Places: Design, Memory, and the Spatial" international symposium: March 3 and 4

In Between, 2006, by Hrair Sarkissian, is a series of landscapes that show Armenia, the homeland of the artist's grandparents, covered with snow, obscuring the remains of an oppressive Soviet system at odds with the image of a self-assured and proud “Mother Armenia.”

NEW YORK, February 21, 2017 — The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC) at Parsons School of Design presents Far Away from Where?, a multimedia exhibition featuring international artists who explore their relationships to “wounded places” — sites of political conflict, communities marred by turmoil, and temporary refugee settlements that become permanent — and the histories they embody.

Through portraits, photographs, video, and installations, artists from Armenia/Syria, Bulgaria, Lebanon/Canada, the United States, and Poland explore the difficulty of accessing “wounded places” — places that have been transformed or partially erased, thus concealing the troubling histories and memories with which they're associated.

“The artists are caught in the paradox between the urge to ‘get closer’ to sites significant to them — to understand, feel, experience them — and the impossibility of this endeavor, which relegates them to the role of mere spectator/witness,” said Małgorzata Bakalarz Duverger, curator of the exhibition and a doctoral candidate in sociology at the New School for Social Research.

In Janicka & Wilczyk’s “Other City,” a series of photos depict urban landscapes that at first appear mundane; however, upon closer inspection, they reveal layers of history: the remains of a Jewish ghetto that was destroyed during World War II and Communist-era architecture. In Syrian-Armenian artist Hrair Sarkissian’s “In Between,” a series of landscapes show Armenia, the homeland of his grandparents, covered with snow, obscuring the remains of an oppressive Soviet system at odds with the image of a self-assured and proud “Mother Armenia.”

The show concludes with, Making Home in Wounded Places: Design, Memory, and the Spatial, an international symposium exploring how the built environment can be used to mitigate human suffering, on March 3 and 4 at Parsons’ Kellen Auditorium, 66 Fifth Avenue. Scholars, designers, and activists will discuss more than 30 case studies, including the ad hoc construction of temporary shelters in Calais, France for people fleeing oppression, the conversion of former prisons into shopping malls in Latin America, and approaches to memorializing the past in a former Warsaw ghetto. The symposium will feature a keynote address from Lina Sergie Attar, a Syrian-American architect, writer, and activist from Aleppo.

Far Away From Where? features work by Tymek Borowski, Yana Dimitrova, Elżbieta Janicka & Wojtek Wilczyk, Simona Prives, Jayce Salloum, Hrair Sarkissian, and Daniel Toretsky, with a site-specific project Parsons students Mackenzie Drummond, James Hernandez, Larisa Karamchakova, and Damien Karan.

The exhibition and symposium are organized in collaboration with Adam Mickiewicz Institute as a part of the Campus Project.

The events are organized with the generous support of the Armenian General Benevolent Union and Arte East.

Parsons School of Design is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines, as well as online courses, degree and certificate programs. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center is an award-winning campus center for Parsons School of Design that combines learning and public spaces with exhibition galleries to provide an important new downtown destination for art and design programming. The mission of the Center is to generate an active dialogue on the role of innovative art and design in responding to the contemporary world. Its programming encourages an interdisciplinary examination of possibility and process, linking the university to local and global debates. The center is named in honor of its primary benefactor, New School Trustee and Parsons Board of Governors Member Sheila C. Johnson. The design by Rice+Lipka Architects is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.


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Media Contacts:

Scott Gargan,
The New School
212-229-5667 x 3794

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