Hamlet Hovsepian
(b. 1950, Ashnak, Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic;
lives and works in Ashnak)


Digitized 16mm film, 4’ 30”
Courtesy of the artist

Hamlet Hovsepian is one of the key figures in Armenian contemporary art and one of the first artists in the USSR to have worked with video art. He says that he finds inspiration in the insignificant, in things that have no historical or social importance and normally escape our attention as completely unmemorable. The black-and-white, mundane, eventless life captured in the looped and simple story of Untitled is a metaphor of the era of stagnation in the Soviet Union, which coincided with the best years of Hovsepian’s life and those of his generation.

Hovsepian’s early video works consist of non-narrative footage of people and objects around him (a girl biting her nails, a yawning boy scratching his back, electrical cables). A similar genre and aesthetic can be found in Andy Warhol’s work (for example Sleep (1963), featuring sleeping poet John Giorno), which was obviously inaccessible to Hovsepian, who had only heard about it from others. But if Warhol wanted to capture the new everyday— the beauty and simplicity of mass consumption, as we can see in Chelsea Girls (1966), which follows 12 protagonists living a leisurely life—Hovsepian is focused on existential questions such as “Where are we going?” and “Is life static or does it have a purpose?” ultimately returning to the eternal and unavoidable truth of “What has been will be again.”