See here for latest iteration of the work from 2023.

Further versions from 2019 and 2017 of the photo work complex Forensic Excavations Inventory or The Total Deconstruction of an Armenian Family.

I. Project introduction
I am using photography, collage and text to tell a story. The story begins before my birth. It moves along my biography and touches different political and historic events like socialist totalitarianism in Bulgaria and the GDR, migration and the fall of the Berlin wall, the Armenian genocide, state surveillance, trauma, and family.
Of a series of several 100 I have currently realised 70 images.
About my work process: I have scanned all family photos that were left in my possession. They were taken in Bulgaria and Germany between the 1930s and the 2000s. I digitally cut out the photos and extracted objects like toys, furniture and body parts of others and myself. I write something about each of the objects, what it reminds me of or knowledge about its meaning and origin. As a next step, I have printed the elements on fine art paper, mounted them on Kapa material and cut them out of the material in a physically demanding process. Now the individual elements have been translated from the confines of the square photos into threedimensional objects. The once-whole family picture expands literally and figuratively and opens an inbetween level, a void, in which I can express something of the ambivalence and inexpressible. The representative function of the photo as a family picture, snapshot or document gives way to the immediate view of the individual element. The individual objects in the photos can be points of reference for many different people. Some of them are consumer items from certain moments in time and others can be reminders of more personal connection to family and ones own biography. Through the objects and the telling of my particular connection to them I enter people's stories, and they enter mine.

II. Background
The project began with a vague artistic desire to travel back in time via architecture. I wanted to re-build the apartments of my childhood in the Here and Now, literally. Within a span of many months I experimented with that desire until I began to separate and archive the surfaces within the family photos from each other. The world of photos into which I zoomed on my screen became deeper. My memory was jogged and the vastness of the voids inbetween recollections became apparent. The surfaces do not only make space for memories and information about the pictured objects. In the process, I also recalled decades-long forgotten objects and situations, and the emotions connected to them. I grew up alone with my mother in Berlin and was confronted early on with her trauma. It had devloped due to a mix of neglect, abuse, unprocessed grief, and the systematic oppression of truth and in emotions in her family and the socialist societies of Bulgaria and Germany. My comprehension of this complex interaction and the influence it had on my own life developed in the last several years.

To spend so much time up close with the photos on my computer screen has changed my relationship to them. I cut off my mother's head again and again which has had an effect on me. I have retained only a small part of the photos, because the rest was thrown away, or disappeared in other people's archives. (E.g. I have found my family in online archives, for instance the Endangered Archives Programme by the British Library.) Within the reality of the photos that have remained, there are visible also other photos. I have transformed the cut-out photos again into Kapa objects. Compared to the rest of the objects they are even more hazy and grainy. This illustrates how much the project Forensic Excavations Inventory is defined by layers of distance. Layers of distance that are both photographically expressed as well as psychologically.

Because I have been lied to a lot by my mother, there are things to this date that I don't know about my origin. This work allows me to speculatively approximate reality, or truth, by using the things I do know, or believe to know. During the opening of Art in the Underground 2019 and my diplom presentation in February 2020 I was able to experience for the first time what kind of feelings the telling of this story in this artistic medium can inspire in the members of the audience.

III. Political multi-perspective
Many artists work with family photos and documents that they alienate using various techniques or which they collage with their own or found material. My development of the collage technique transfers the former 3D objects from the photographic 2D again into a new 3D environment. The objects, mounted on slabs of synthetic material, become props for the newly created photos in the here and now. Shadows that fell on the objects at the time of the photograph, or reflections on TVs are frozen in time and incorporated into the new photographic composition. Thus the newly created photo or photo installation works like a cubist time machine: all times and perspectives exist simultaneously and are put in relations to each other.

The cacophony of the different times allows a multi perspective look on my life that has been moved into different directions by so many political events. The cut-out objects are treated equally regardless whether they are organic or inorganic material. Each object, no matter if hand or toy, enables another perspective on my life, and with this, also on a piece of history. This multi-perspectivism works not only in the photographic sense. The Multiperspective is a metaphor for the cacophony of interpretations of contested historical and political events. Historical scholarship is not politically unambiguous and is subject to interpretations influenced by changing narratives. Events like the collapse of socialism, migration or the Armenian genocide become a projection surface of different ideologies.
For instance the genocide of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks that took place in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1919: since the founding of modern day Turkey its has been denied in the country. And Germany that, as the Ottoman's ally in the First World War, facilitated the deadly desert deportations and shipped the arms necessary, doesn't face the memorial with the according perspective of a perpetrator. Multi-perspectivism also means saying: a catastrophe can spawn something positive – selfishly speaking for instance my birth. A catastrophe can bear several truths.

IV. Conclusion

I have used methods of criminology and archaeology to tell the story. Contrary to what the title Forensic Excavations Inventory suggests I don't work in this project like an archaeologist. I have excavated the missing pieces in my biography by doing the complete opposite of what archaeologists are doing - they search the grounds for shards of an antique, once-whole object to reconstruct them by drawing in the missing pieces. In contrast, I had to destroy my archetypical family picture to understand what the artifacts of my childhood held concealed in front of everyone's, especially my own, eyes. In the process of revaluating memories, which, more so than I originally believed, resembled a healing journey of discovery, the artifacts revealed themselves as documents that connect my private history with the political history between Eurasia, Eastern and Western Europe.

The 'total deconstruction' of the photos gives me the tool of a methodology that allows for a decentralized storytelling with which I can examinate the structure and political foundation of of my biography.

My life has been influenced by socialism. My mother grew up in a climate of fear and distrust. Bulgaria and parts of the so called socialist brother states and East Germany are informed to this day by fear and distrust. Trauma is wide spread. This doesn't lay only on the shoulders of the prevailing political system - family systems disordered by mental illness, autoritarian belief, exists in all parts of the world. I would like to explore my personal fragmentalized narrative along all of these intersections with the angle of growing up as a migrant in a post-socialist society. The history of migrants living in East Germany is underrepresented in the arts.

It is important to tell this fragmentlized story, for myself and for others who can identify with it.

Current iteration of the work.