- Artist Hrair Sarkissian
- Title Execution Squares (No. 18)
- Date 2008
- Medium Lambda print mounted on aluminium
- Dimensions 128 x 163 cm
Hrair Sarkissian uses the techniques of documentary photography to comment on complex social and political realities and to question the ways in which photography as a medium determines how images of these realities are read. In much of Sarkissian’s work the meaning of the images he presents is not immediately apparent. Execution Squares is a series of photographs taken in the early morning when these usually busy public places are empty, devoid of human life and activity. Elegant palms provide shade and public monuments add gravitas to the civic landscapes that play a central role in the life of their communities. Yet the picturesque quiet of the settings hides a brutal truth — these are the sites of public executions in the Syrian cities of Aleppo, Lattakia and Damascus. In these places, the execution of criminals becomes an event, a public spectacle, which involves and implicates those who willingly or unwillingly become its witnesses.
Hrair Sarkissian’s photographs reflect on personal memories, using subjectivity as a way to navigate stories that official histories are unable to tell. Using traditional documentary techniques in large-scale works, he engages the viewer in a profound consideration of what lies behind the surface of the images, thereby re-evaluating larger historical or social narratives.