American, born 1965
Peter Sarkisian first exhibited Dusted at New York's I-20 Gallery in 1998, gaining wide recognition for this singular video sculpture. Trained in cinematography, he had begun making video installations four years earlier. Critics applauded his bold move to replace the video screen with a three-dimensional object that occupied space in the gallery and demanded viewer engagement. As he said at the time:There is a real sense of shared space with the image. You don’t get that when you watch television because you’re looking at a box held to a frame. Television is a reference to another time and place. With my stuff there’s less a sense of mediation between you and the image.(1)
Although Dusted reaped nearly unanimous praise, critics made divergent associations with it. They ranged from viewing the couple as Adam and Eve, to musing on the difficulties of modern-day romantic relationships, to comparing the traditions of abstraction and figuration in art history. Sarkisian himself saw Dusted in even broader and more philosophical terms: 'The core of this work is balance," he said, "the equal and opposite relationship between clarity and obscurity, growth and decay, life and death."(2)
Interestingly, neither the artist nor those writing about this work dwelt on his use of technology here. Although his medium is video, Sarkisian does not draw attention to it. Instead, he employs it imaginatively to create illusionistic scenes that invite careful attention and encourage contemplation.
1. Sarkisian interviewed by Margie Romero, Ticket, January 14, 1999: 16.
2. Sarkisian quoted in Valerie Loupe Olsen, Peter Sarkisian: Dusted, exh. cat. (Houston: Glassell School of Art of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2002), 9.