A common word I kept coming by when reading my interview with Haytoug’s Summer edition a few months ago [plug] was ‘storytelling’. I had never planned to talk about storytelling, nor did I ever plan to use the word. Always answering and writing on the spot, I realized after reading my answers that I was, indeed, bringing up storytelling quite often.
Storytelling has been injected into my culture due to crazy, specific circumstances. My ethnic background: Armenia’s brutal genocide, to my own birth country: Iraq and its wars, my family and I have seen nothing but stories unfolding in front of us. Cultures rich in history, full of stories and lessons that sadly aren’t as much understood as they’re taught today, are left all alone. No one can tell a story without understanding it. No one can fully understand a story without being the story itself. No one, in fact, can repeat something twice, the exact same way. That leaves me to say one thing: There’s no such thing as future without a past. Storytelling does you the favor of telling you the past.
If you’ve watched any of the music videos I’ve directed and filmed, you might have noticed the references all over the music video. Whether from Yerevan being a sister city to Los Angeles, or Baghdad bombings from every side including the inside that took so many lives away, I have tried to portray it all. From simple dreams of creepy semi-monsters, to a funny, comical girls-chasing vacation in a beautiful California beach. What do these works have in common? Storytelling. I’m into storytelling, and if I can’t tell a story, there’s no reason for me to make art to begin with. I make art to express myself. I make art to tell a story. I believe art is about a story. Art isn’t about what you want to become after failing to become it for the past 50 times. Art is about who you really are and what you really, deeply accomplish.
As mentioned earlier, I have had a lot of sad realities injected into my work. I like to be the reality-check giver as long as most of the work is accepted in other views. I don’t like full pieces about being reality-checks. I’m not one of those shove-it-in-your-throat type of people. I don’t knock your door telling you how amazing my culture is. I do, however, make art, and try to let the work be influenced by my culture, for a scene or two.
Not a lot of people are fans of my culture being in my art. Not a lot of people are fans of storytelling being my art. No, the latter is actually a lie. Only a few people have expressed such feelings, and I can only hope for the best for those who did. I tell stories. That’s exactly who I am. I stencil pieces that tell stories. Look through my work. Don’t just ‘skim’. LOOK through the work. Go closer. Go further. Look for details. You may not like what you see the first twenty times you look at a building, but when your friends tell you what good, humanitarian work that bad looking building does inside, the twenty first time you see that building you’re going to like it. Why? Because you don’t even think you’re looking at the same building because of your view points changing.
Today, art barely gets by. Not a lot of people understand fine art. Art, sadly, became this “thing” where people write full on sentences to tell you what the work is about on a picture. Sometimes the work isn’t even about that. That’s why I don’t join that trend of writing full on “meanings” of pictures and posting them. Art is storytelling. You shouldn’t see a sad girl crying while laying on the floor to realize that what you’re seeing is a sad picture. That’s called a kindergarten coloring book piece. That’s not art. Look for more! Ask for the better. Don’t go with your usual, crappy videos of a rapper at a strip club sitting in the same room shot from 60 angles. Don’t go with your usual club scenes. Look for a piece that pulls all of it together. Would you rather eat a good tasting meal that’s very healthy for your benefit, or would you go for the great tasting meal that you know will damage that whole entity that is YOU in the next twenty to thirty years? The choice is absolutely yours. You may choose to be ignorant and regret it later. You can poke fun at it. You can laugh at the whole piece you just read. Or, you could actually read this paragraph twice and think about it. In the end, I’m only telling you a story.