24 April – 31 May 2015
When people discuss the Depatriation of the Armenians from Turkey, they may think that it is a simple calculation of numbers of people killed, or a story about leaving a homeland and losing property. The psychological torture experienced is rarely considered. In reality, this catastrophic torture persists and becomes more intensified. With the sudden and dramatic loss of dear ones, of homes, of belongings and of dignity, Armenians lost their psychological integrity and their sense of security. The pain lingered, persisted and was transmitted to future generations; it surged and cried for remedy. Even after 100 years, we Armenians carry the psychotraumatic pain inflicted on our grandparents.
Hripsimeh Sarkissian was just one of the victims of 1915 who lost everything and who suffered silently throughout her ill-fated existence. In all post-traumatic disorder cases, the victims become frozen in time as the painful images endlessly repeat in their minds. Hripsimeh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, burdened by severe emotions of anxiety, anger, loss, humiliation, helplessness, doubt, irritability, depression, grief, hopelessness, disgust, rage, confusion, sadness, numbness, emptiness and self-blame. These feelings consumed her from inside. Perhaps the hardest burden carried by trauma victims is the challenge of hiding the feelings of shame and guilt from the eyes of others and specifically from the eyes of the perpetrators. All generations of Armenian survivors carry these secret feelings, and struggle to hide them deep inside.
We Armenians, not only suffer the psychotraumatic consequences of the Disaster, but we also carry the enormous moral debt of pursuing justice for our innocent grandparents. Hripsimeh could not speak about her pains openly, but her fingers did. She unconsciously weaved her life story into her embroideries. She “Exbroidered” her pain with thread on cloth and color in form, not knowing that one day everyone will be able to “read” them.
This exhibition is a guided visit into the psychology of Hripsimeh Sarkissian through her painterly embroideries. I, her granddaughter, Anita Toutikian, invite you to look into the details of her story stitched upon torn pieces of cloth, and to listen to her voice screaming out of the web of her colorful threads. I also invite you to look into the eyes of Hripsimeh Sarkissian and feel her pain. Only feeling can cure her pain. Only feeling the pain of the other can make us human.
2015 Exhibition Program of DEPO is being realized in cooperation with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundatio