“I am asking for forgiveness for my scribal errors, because my friend is a babbling chatterbox.” The Armenian copyist Aleksianos complained in the fourteenth century about the conditions in which he had to perform his duties as a monk. During the Middle Ages, a unique tradition emerged among Armenian copyists to outline in the colophon the political, social – or personal – context in which they did their work. The constant threat of hostile populations is a recurring theme in these colophons. Today, Armenian cultural heritage is still under pressure, as it was after the capture of Artsakh (or Nagorno-Karabakh) by the Azerbaijani army in 2020. For his third exhibition at Baronian, Mekhitar Garabedian is reinterpreting the miniatures of the copyists, and the edges of the image in particular. The decorative patterns were the monks’ preferred place to improvise and deviate from the norm. By appropriating himself various visual and textual sources, Garabedian explores the fragility of heritage.
Image: St. Luke, 1251, Hromkla monastery, Cilicia, name of illuminator unknown (Matenadaran collection, Yerevan), detail.