As a Canadian artist of Armenian, Egyptian, and Lebanese descent, my paintings focus on genealogy, intergenerational trauma and historical violence. Can painting have the ability to enable a secondary witnessing, an empathic experience of muted trauma?
In my work, I create a narrative based on the history of my family; one of diaspora, immigration, and genocide. My research is based on oral histories, photographic archives and objects bequeathed to me. I become a receptacle. I transform this knowledge and create narratives using memory and imagination. When stories and memories are subjected to time, the narratives become blurred, on the borderline between reality and fiction. My images serve as metaphors for the impact of intergenerational trauma.
My pictorial work presents sensory and psychological impressions in a crude style. Improvisation through colour and composition mimic the spontaneous way in which oral histories are recounted. Figures, shapes and forms reflect violence, creation and destruction - a complex and gut-level vision of power imbalances. The work speaks of ancestral grief. Such grief work invites an ongoing practice of deepening, caring, and listening. Dealing with undigested anguish of our ancestors frees us to live our present lives. In turn, it can also relieve ancestral suffering in the other world.
Muriel Ahmarani Jaouich is currently living and working in the unceded indigenous lands of Tiohtià:ke / Montreal, QC, Canada, of the Kanien’kehá:ka Peoples.