The Personal Journal as Ethnography: Armenian American Identity, Community and Art

By Tamar Salibian.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper investigates some of the ways that diaspora Armenians in Los Angeles try to bridge the gaps between their community and that of others through art and discourse. The focus of the field research for this paper was a small art gallery in Los Angeles. While curating an exhibit of five (Armenian and non-Armenian) photographers in autumn 2008, I examined the manner with which the artists and staff interacted with one another; communicated their respective approaches regarding home, place, and exile; and created discourse about identity. In this paper, my description of the time spent on the curatorial project is paired with interviews with gallery patrons and artists as well as my own insight into what it is like to be an Armenian American artist living in Los Angeles. The line between ethnography and creative non-fiction is blurred, resulting in a layered discussion of self, identity, and art.

Keywords: Diaspora, Gallery, Armenian, American, Identity, Community, Ethnography, Journal

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.11-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 340.744KB).

Tamar Salibian

PhD Candidate, Media Studies , Cultural Studies Program, Claremont Graduate University, Los Angeles, California, USA

Tamar Salibian is a Media Studies doctoral student in the Cultural Studies program at Claremont Graduate University. She received her bachelor’s degree in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and her master’s degree in film/video from California Institute of the Arts. Her experimental documentaries have screened in festivals internationally. In addition to her post-production work in independent documentary films for such organizations as The Center for American Progress and National Geographic, Salibian has worked extensively in reality television on such programs as Survivor and The Apprentice. In addition to her creative and scholarly pursuits, Salibian is an art, dance and mentorship teacher with the After-School All Stars organization in a Los Angeles-area high school.