Video artist Ruben Sogomonian takes a unique approach to transcending reality by delving into the depths of introspection, fearlessly venturing into the dark recesses of his own childhood memories, as well as those of an entire post-war generation. Through his video art, Sogomonian universalizes his own emotions, enabling viewers to relive and intimately experience the rawness of these moments, allowing them to confront and ultimately embrace the pain, thereby making way for a new and improved reality.
From its initial black-and-white scenes, "The Person Who is Not" immerses the viewer in the perception of a child grappling with the haunting traumas of loss, parental alcoholism, and neglect. Sogomonian exhibits masterful selection in casting individuals whose visages alone speak volumes about the violence, poverty, and profound loss they have endured. The interplay of intense facial features is heightened by the strategic chiaroscuro lighting, whether it be the midday sun or the flickering flame of a candle. Additionally, the artist conveys the narrative through unsettling auditory cues—a passing train, a helpless body submerging in water, the shattering of glass—interspersed with distant echoes reminiscent of gunshots, screams, and the quickened heartbeat. Through these techniques, the video artist adeptly recreates the atmospheric essence of a traumatized childhood, allowing viewers to almost inhabit the experience themselves.
Unintentionally, Sogomonian's sincere and vivid portrayal of his own traumatic encounters strikes a chord with an entire generation marked by the collective grief of World War II, the Chechen conflict, the Afghan war, and the First and Second Karabakh wars, among others. The artist evokes memories of the arduous struggles faced by many in the post-Soviet Union countries during the tumultuous 1990s—loss of loved ones, grappling with scarcity, and enduring poverty.
This video art piece centers around memories that haunt us, preventing us from fully accepting reality. Sogomonian proposes that we embrace and integrate our difficult pasts to transcend them, ushering in a new era of growth and understanding.