Pastel Struggle is a series the artist Karén Khachaturov began shortly after his grandfather, Gari, was diagnosed with cancer. The series captures the last three months of Gari's life starting from the moment of his diagnosis. As a photographer who tries to “document” the moment, Karén struggles between transmitting an objective reality and telling a different kind of truth, one that reflects an emotionally charged and intimate experience. Karén bears witness to his grandfather’s daily struggles - loss of sight, loss of appetite, and feelings of solitude - but also to moments of joy and playfulness in the wake of absurdity.
The series is self-aware. Karén embraces his subjectivity, constructing a highly curated, pop-surrealist reality that borders on the theatrical. As subjective as Karén’s lens is, so too is his grandfather’s participation - standing proudly in an astronaut’s uniform, or fully nude atop a table - Gari is the star and co-author of this performance. Together, Grandfather and Grandson, make light of an absurd situation whose end is decided and inevitable. Not able to control the outcome, but able to manipulate their experience and emotions around it - Pastel Struggle is a rebellion not against the disease, but rather against what is a socially acceptable reaction to illness and ultimately, mortality.
Text by Anna Gargarian, Curator