Glendale Library Arts and Culture and ReflectSpace gallery will present a solo exhibition by Levon Parian—an award-winning, internationally recognized photographer with an extensive exhibition and publication record. Parian will exhibit work from his “Lost Memories” series—the most extensive showing of this work to date. Including both a collection of photographs and a book, this exhibition highlights the way in which time and events effect our individual, familial and collective memory.
Forty-five years ago, Parian found a large stash of his family slides that had been “destroyed” by a devastating flood. Taking pictures was the way the family collected memories of their extensive travels. The Parian family moved over a half dozen times during Levon’s childhood—from Beirut to Detroit to Chicago then on to Pakistan and Iran. The slides cover the whole sweep of Levon’s childhood.
Recognizing the beauty of the so-called spoiled or “lost” photographs, Parian rescued and fully re-imagined them into vibrant and color-infused individual images and photographic prints. Coupling the images with texts from his own childhood memories, Parian will also release the work in book form, similarly called “Lost Memories.” In this series Parian investigates the diasporic movement of his family as well as classic questions inherent in the photographic medium, such as ephemerality, preservation, and loss, as well as taking the opportunity to reminisce on his personal memories.
“A memory is like a fine thread, / Pull on it gently and you may unravel / the link to a moment / in your mind. / A photograph expands that link. / Like a form of time travel / to those moments only we remember. / Or at least, think we remember,” wrote Parian.
“Lost Memories” will run from October 21 to January 7, 2023. A reception and book signing will be held on Saturday, October 22, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Levon studied photography at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1977 and attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1980. He freelance-assisted for Playboy, Helmut Newton, and Alice Springs for three years before starting his own photography business in 1984. He completed his Master of Fine Art degree in 2008 at California State University, Northridge, where he is currently on the faculty. He lives in California with his wife Maro (an artist of theatre) and two children, Arthur and Sona.
“In a broader sense the visual preservation of memories has been facilitated by the invention of photography,” noted Parian. “Capturing moments in time has become important for the telling of human history and the preservation of events that influence us. War, genocide, fire, floods and other disasters have damaged and destroyed so much heritage and historic records. This is the story of the portion of my family’s history destroyed in a flood. The relation between these images and the memories they were meant to represent has not completely been lost, but a new narrative has been created. I wonder if I would have taken the slides out of the box, or if my children or relatives would have cared about these images if they had not been damaged and had their rebirth as art,” he added.
“A memory is like a fine thread, / Pull on it gently and you may unravel / the link to a moment / in your mind. / A photograph expands that link. / Like a form of time travel / to those moments only we remember. / Or at least, think we remember,” wrote the artist.