39 —

Aikaterini Gegisian


Music: Algiers, with their full permission

Photograph Credit: Aikaterinin Gegisian
Editing: Adam Mead
Producer: Lucas Callaghan
Executive Producer: Brad Feuerhelm

Rights are reserved to Nearest Truth. No copies of this content is permitted without express permission from Brad Feuerhelm.

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Episode 39: Aikaterini Gegisian‘s Handbook of the Spontaneous Other (Published MACK, 2020) is a re-trenching of the body politic as espoused through the methodology of collage and disarticulated desire. Cut bodies are interwoven with flora and fauna to produce hybrid form. These forms have a tradition in the European production of the grotesque. When I suggest grotesque, it is not as an adjective, but rather as the historical hybrid forms found on cathedrals and in the margins of decorated illuminated manuscript pages. Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights being perhaps the most notable representation.



Handbook of the Spontaneous Other by Aikaterini Gegisian. Courtesy of the artist.


Gegisian’s work attempts to reconsider the how we view desire in reduced form. Each piecemeal endeavor of human flesh is offset by the archival details of travel imagery or 70s and 80s use of the printed vernacular photographic image. This creates a schism of viewing. At once we are forced to confront the pornographic reaches of her scissors and at the same time asked to inquire as to the era of their production in our collective understanding of era and time. Images from the 80’s conflate our senses in their reticulated and palpable print matrix often casting the mind to far away reaches and tropical climes. In manouevering deftly through the loaded field of the pornographic images, Gegisian asks the viewer to not define her intent, nor to subscribe to it, but to accept its ability to be produced as an element of her investigation into the pathos of desire.



Handbook of the Spontaneous Other by Aikaterini Gegisian. Courtesy of the artist.



Collage is often a tricky medium to work with. It often looks clumsy or undistinguished. It takes time to find a way in which to de-couple new forms with the awkward history of the collage medium. Often, we see the same historical mode over and over from Hannah Höch and John Heartfeld images to Crass record covers. Gegisian recognizes this error of production and instead opts for a cool formal arrangement that reads like a fragrant pornocopia of corpoREAL flowers locked in a timeline at once remembered, but also considered as peculiar and unreal. The outcome of her work is less severe, wholly articulate and quite arresting. The book is divided into nine chapters and mechanically drives the work towards theater or literature in this sense. Each chapter becomes a bemusing stage for Gegisian to work out the arithmetic of color and desire. It is clever and asks more of the collage medium than we usually associate with it. Many books of collage fail as the form is not consistent and you get a Frankensteinian puddle of pieces sewn together without much deliberation or clarity of vision. This is not the case in Gegisian’s work. 



Handbook of the Spontaneous Other by Aikaterini Gegisian. Courtesy of the artist.



In this episode we talk about the production of art, the production of bodies and the production of Western Hegemonic modes of interpretation when it comes to form. Gegisian is prescient in outlining many of the accustomed problems of sexual desire and divisions of orientation and gender. She is kind and considerate and dutifully answered my questions. I really appreciate the time I spent with her. Please have a listen and buy the book!



Handbook of the Spontaneous Other by Aikaterini Gegisian. Courtesy of the artist.

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