Vahram Aghasyan

Ghost City, Armenia, 2005-2007

Digital print,
100X130 cm

Courtesy of the artist

Vahram Aghasyan’s series "Ghost City" documents Gyumri in Armenia, whose population numbers 149,000; the city achieved renown when a terrible earthquake struck it in 1988. To help people who had lost their homes, in 1989, the Soviet Government decided to build a new residential neighbourhood, ten minutes’ drive from the city centre. Construction commenced in 1989, but even after the passing of eighteen years and much money has been invested in the project, it is as yet incomplete and the quarter is utterly deserted. The buildings have been left to the mercies of time and the forces of nature, and will probably disappear at some time or other. In the meantime, they stand as a silent reminder that exposes certain truths.

“Cities like this one symbolize the ghost of modernism, for the modernist construction instigated by the Soviet regime was never completed,” says Aghasyan. “Modernism will never disappear entirely from Armenia, just as it never entirely arrived.”

The image Aghasyan has created expresses the secret dread of contemporary man – the fear of some apocalyptic penalty as symbolized by the Flood. All that will survive, in the best case, will be the artifacts made by men, but they themselves will not