"A foreigner’s exile; spelling one’s name" (J Toufic, Distracted, 2003) In this work, the artist evokes a split identity, a doubt about his real position. Many migrants are forced to alter their names because their new neighbours and colleagues are unable to pronounce them authentically. Referring to a scene in François Truffaut’s film ’Baisers Volés’ (1968), Mekhitar Garabedian stands in front of a mirror in an anonymous bathroom, speaking his name with Dutch and Armenian accents. The camera shows only his reflection, as the name he practices so ardently is a reflection of his real name. As he continues to articulate his name at his reflection, his voice becomes louder and higher in pitch, and he speaks faster and more aggressively. His right hand initially marks each repetition of the name with a closed fist, falling each time on the stressed syllable in ’MekhiTAR Garabedian’. This rhythmic rise and fall, like a conductor with his baton, shifts in the Dutch incarnation of his name to fall on the first syllable: ’MEKhitar Garabedian’. The gesture itself evolves as well - the closed fist opens and rotates to show the mirror his open palm. The fist is an aggressive, threatening gesture, while the open pal seems to be pacifying and calming the man who is so angry. As the two reflected men seem to interact with one another, the speed of the repetition increases until the names run together like a long mantra or prayer, building towards an emotional climax. Towards the end, the screen suddenly turns black, and Garabedian’s voice gives way.
MG, Mekhitar Garabedian, 2006 © the artist & producerMG, Mekhitar Garabedian, 2006 © the artist & producerMG, Mekhitar Garabedian, 2006 © the artist & producer