Multi-cultural Identity

  • House on Wheels

    House on Wheels

    Video installation, 2000

    Every one goes from one place to another to get home. Some people who go from one place to another never get home. Some others get home, but always stay in exile.
    (An excerpt from the video taken from Hagop Karapentz, A man and a country and other short stories, Watertown: Blue CraneBooks, 76.)

    House on Wheels is a multi-media, interdisciplinary video installation addressing issues related to multi-cultural experiences.
    The physical structure of the installation is a basic wooden house structure on wheels, supporting the idea of mobility and travel. Four houses made from digital transparency and mounted on wood frames hang inside the main structure. Each one of the interior houses relates to one culture and has iconography related to that specific culture.

    The video component represents the idea of migration and the constant move from one place to another. It’s layered, constant layer being a repetitive walk. The begining audio is a superimposition of a phrase in four different languages. The languages are sometimes recognizable, but the general effect is a chaotic, repetitive sound, reflecting the confusion related to the multi-cultural existence. Other parts contain symbolic images of home, as well as images related to the four different cultures, combined with songs and narratives in the same languages.

    The viewer enters the gallery and interacts with the space. The semi-dark room, the large-scale video projection and the moving transparent houses create a whimsical atmosphere, complemented by narratives and songs from four countries. The viewer is transported to a place that might feel foreign. Armenian, Farsi, French and English words and music fill up the space.

    It's all about having to move from one place to another, feeling somewhat out of place and different. It's also about having the privilege of experiencing more than one heritage, sense of belonging to more than one culture.

  • Marks


    Automatic writing, visual alphabet, acrylic on canvas, acrylic and ink on paper, 2008-2014

    This is the progression of the Marks, started in 2006. The visual writing in this series has become more autonomus and instead of covering a layer of existing painting, it is structured by layers of marks, sometimes bold and sometime more playful and subtle.


  • Message in a bottle

    Message in a bottle

    Interactive installation
    October 2014, Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan, Armenia

    “Message in a bottle” is a public invitation to participate and share ideas. Messages written for the installation are about the identity and how the environment may effect it. Visitors are free to write and share their messages. Read messages are hung on the line above the installation and new ones are put in the bottles.

    Message in a bottle



  • Nos histoires

    Nos Histoires

    Sound installation, 2009

    Installation sonore d'Alina Mnatsakanian

    Le Musée d'histoire de La Chaux-de-Fonds accueille, jusqu'au 30 septembre prochain, une installation sonore de l'artiste multimédia arménienne Alina Mnatsakanian. Cette création, intitulée «Our Stories» («Nos Histoires») est présentée dans le cadre de Neuchàtoi 2009.

    L'installation se présente sous la forme de cinq boîtes en bois croisé figurant des maisons, à l'intérieur desquels des hauts-parleurs diffusent des voix de jeunes gens et jeunes filles. Ils s'expriment chacun dans leur langue, ce qui plonge l'auditeur au cœur même de notre société pluriculturelle.

    «Our Stories» est la reprise sur territoire neuchâtelois d'un projet réalisé en 2003 en Californie. «J'ai travaillé avec des jeunes d'une école multiculturelle», explique l'artiste. «Je leur ai demandé d'expliquer d'où ils venaient, d'exprimer leurs désirs, en s'exprimant dans leur langue maternelle.»

    Dans le canton de Neuchâtel, le projet a pris une tournure un peu différente. Il a été réalisé en collaboration avec Elisabeth Reichen, de l'Eglise réformée évangélique (Eren).

    Les jeunes ont été recrutés dans tout le canton. Ceux qui ont bien voulu participer ont été interviewés. Ils devaient s'exprimer sur leur identité, dire où ils se sentent bien et parler des rituels qu'ils pratiquent.

    La documentation à disposition propose la traduction des paroles de ces jeunes, qui s'expriment chacun dans leur langue d'origine, soit le français, l'anglais, le russe, le chinois, le thaïlandais, le tamoul ou encore le suisse allemand.

    Le projet s'inscrit bien, estime l'artiste, dans la thématique intégrative de Neuchàtoi. Les spectateurs de son installation, écrit-elle, «expérimentent la différence et la possibilité de la coexistence dans un environnement donné.» /lby

    «Our Stories», Musée d'histoire de La Chaux-de-Fonds, jusqu'au 30 septembre 2009

    Source: L'Express/L'Impartial

  • Our Stories

    Our Stories

    Sound Installation and video, 2003

    Our Stories is a multi-media audio installation created in collaboration with community youth. Stories are told by a group of culturally diverse high school students.

    Five small-scale white houses create the main visual structure of the installation; contrasted with black electrical cords that act as lifelines. The visual part is minimalistic and the concentration of the piece is on the voices, the diverse voices of youth, in their original languages.

    Each house has a sound system, which transmits a narrative in a specific language. Participating youth wrote stories about themselves, which they read in their native languages. Narratives were recorded and transmitted through the sound systems. A video of the students complements the installation as well as a wall with the printed stories as a visual component of the show.

    The viewer can hear the voices as a whole or individually, each time experiencing a different combination of languages. They may or may not understand all or some of the languages, but they will experience the differences and the possibility of their coexistence in an environment.

    Our Stories creates an atmosphere to showcase some of the languages spoken in our community, or in a more abstract way, to experience the sounds of various languages. Another idea of the project as a whole was to create an atmosphere for the youth to express themselves and learn about each other. During the workshops students interacted with one another and tried to be more accepting, something that is lacking in our society.

    More than 50 students, in Glendale, California, participated in workshops conducted for Our Stories. The outcome of the workshops was stories, sound recordings in 11 languages (Armenian, English, Farsi, French, Goujrati, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, Sinhalese, Spanish and Urdu) and artworks. All stories are translated in English, Spanish and Armenian.

    This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities as part of the Council’s statewide California Stories Initiative. The COUNCIL is an independent non-profit organization and a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information on the Council and the California Stories Initiative, visit

  • Self Portrait

    Self Portrait

    Installation, 1997: digital images, 2009

    Containers that hold our internal belongings, our values, our fears… A container holds a physical portrait; another one holds fragments of a culture: letters, home, etc., and the other one holds soil, the base of any living creature. There are also the unknowns.










  • When I woke up...

    When I woke up the sun had moved, San Francisco Art Institute, 2011When I woke up the sun had moved

    Robotic performance with 9 robots, sound and projected digital moving image, 2011

    View a video

    We go from one place to another and adapt to the new environment. Movement means life. We move, therefore we are alive. The heart palpitates; it pumps blood to the veins and creates life. We go from one place to another to save or to better our lives.

    When I woke up, the sun had moved is an installation in the minimalist spirit, and it's about movement, created by robots. Movement has always interested visual artists and has resulted in a description, such as with futurists, or the mechanical movement, such as with kinetic artists. Minimal and post-minimal sculptors have also dealt with movement, by using fragmentation and repetition of forms in the space. As an evolution towards movement and freedom, post-minimal sculptors proposed free forms and dispersion in the exhibition space, an allusion to movement.

    9 small, wheeled robots move around and follow choreography. They dance to the sound of a soundtrack and sometimes interact with each other. They resemble post minimal sculptures, but they move in real time. They create a visual performance to be seen by the viewer, on a purely formal level, where colors and shapes move and create different compositions.

    When I woke up the sun had moved, 2011, San Francisco Art Institute

Back to top