Orchestrating a conversation between two voices, Camille Lévêque and Lucie Khahoutian narrate, exchange and dismantle their relationship to Armenia and memory.
The former, French of Armenian descent, the latter, Armenian immigrant in France, they confront their stories and the way time distorts their memories, transforming their experience into romanticized tales.
In the shape of a diptych, this conversation highlights the melancholic nature of the relationship between a community and its heritage, mirroring a sometimes chaotic communication between Armenians and the diaspora. Akin to a conversation between oriental and occidental Armenian, we’re looking at a dialogue deliberately leaving room for inaccuracy, rewriting, and a subjective interpretation of collective notions.
Balancing somewhere in between identity investigation and desire to widen the vocabulary of heritage, the exchange confronts archive, collage, photography, and video, made by both artists over the past few years, and engages in back and forth motions between the past, present, and future, but also between reality and fiction.
From the content to the form, the story told here follows the track of time, its impact on memory, and on truth.
By rummaging through the story, inconsistency appears, accuracy weakens: this isn’t, in fact, a discussion but a monologue.
Camille Lévêque is the sole master of the operation here, allowing her alias Lucie Khahoutian – her grandmother in real life – a voice more light-hearted than her own.
Working on an investigative and inquisitive approach, Lévêque uses family archive and new technology to find answers to unresolved issues, while Khahoutian answers with a more joyful, kitsch-like imagery, filled with playful references to her cultural heritage.
At first resembling conflict – as it might happen when different generations interact – the visuals eventually resonate and answer each other by their fundamental meaning an urge to get rid of an overdue burden: the suffering of a community whose genocide (1915) is yet to be recognized by the Turkish government.
This internal dialogue, staged and developed as an imaginary conversation among several generations of the same family, illustrates the construction of a multi-layered identity, and the desire for a new semantic field to recount Armenity.
Camille Lévêque (b. 1985, Paris) is a visual artist whose practice blends photography, collage, video and installation. She holds a BA in Fine Arts and Literature from Paris 8 University and a MA in Fine Arts from UCLA (Los Angeles).
Whilst constantly developing her photography practice, she explores intimacy and build layered visual narratives blending documentary work with an artistic and personal approach.
Working around the archive as both the subject and the media, she questions the role of memory, its impact on the present and future, its limits, and its fading. Her work thinks about relationships, matters of identity and origins – often looking at family as the cornerstone of her analysis. Very much interested in the notion of family mythology, her research starts from an individual perspective to confront it with a collective one, building a conversation around the importance of memory and hereditary history in our relationship with reality. The photographic object becomes an excuse to investigate our ability to exchange, perceive, and document the truth or, on the contrary, to distort it to our benefit and re-invent ourselves. By pushing the boundaries of the medium, she plays with her past to a certain extent, seeking a new take on self-narration – on both an individual and collective scale.
She has been working as a reporter for the UNHCR in Armenia and an editorial assistant for Magnum Photos in Paris to then focus on her practice as photographer and publisher.
She is founder and member of LIVE WILD collective and the co-founder of publishing house ORPHEUS STANDING ALONE.
Since 2014, she’s been experimenting with LIVE WILD on authorship, identity and anonymity using aliases; working under seven different names – her own and six others – she’s developed various bodies of work that question the importance of the artist’s character in their practice and career.
Her works are featured on various publications, online and in print, and regularly exhibited internationally.
Leveque has lived and worked in France, Armenia and the United-States, she is currently based in Paris, France but available for commissions worldwide.