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Siranush Danielyan

photographed by grisha petrosyan

Okay, tell us a bit where are we right now? How long have you been living here?

The history of this apartment is this, in fact it was a large apartment, that's why the floorplan is so strange, because of the large size of the apartment and the high cost, they decided to divide it into two. The second half of the apartment begins where the balcony ends. About 6 years ago we bought it, Areg, our son was born and about a year later we bought it.

How did you choose the house?

There was no romance in this, we simply selected it to fit the budget and be close to the center.

Who designed the interior?

We, but Many things began to irritate me little by little, and I even wanted to take apart this kitchen countertop. Here was a table, this wall was colored, here were shelves, and below were drawers. When you wrote to me a week ago about the shooting and I replied that I was making small rearrangements, I was actually aggressively remaking everything, ha-ha. The whole idea was to make the room brighter. I also have an idea to remove the bedroom wall and hang curtains here to make the room even brighter.

Where do all these small details, souvenirs, vases come from?

Oh, that's still half of it. There is a whole basket of stones on the balcony.

Where does all this come from?

From different places, I bring them from trips or friends give them as gifts. For example, I found this from the trash, you know, when they make khachkars, they have a trash bin where they throw everything they don’t need. I found these cylinders from construction waste in our yard.

Are these the cylinders that are cut out of the facades of houses to install air conditioners or heating systems?

Yes, yes, such things. And I found this at Vernissage, well, from different places. As a child, I collected a lot of stones. One of my grandmothers lived in the Tokhulja village, the current name is Drakhtik, it’s next to Sevan, in general, my mother and father are from the village of Artsvashen. So, during summers, starting from the second grade, I spent time there with my grandmother, it was a real village experience. I had short hair, like a boy, I had a stick like a shepherd, and my dog and I climbed the mountains. There I started collecting stones, I had a collection of rock crystals, I even collected broken stones with patterns from cemeteries, ha-ha. But one day my grandmother threw everything away, and I didn’t take my collection with me.

Since you remembered your grandmother, tell us about backgammon.

Oh yes, about the second grandmother Rosa. She was from the Krasnoselsk village. In general, all my summer time was spent in the villages. There were many grandmothers living nearby, and they all loved to play backgammon. Imagine a grandmother’s house in the village, the sound of creaking wood, the grandmother quietly doing her chores in the kitchen in the morning so as not to wake up her grandchildren. And suddenly the gate opens loudly, footsteps are heard, the neighbor’s grandmother is climbing the stairs and the loud sound of backgammon opening. And she sits there waiting for my grandmother to quickly finish her business and come play with her, ha-ha. They had a special day when all of their neighbors gathered to play backgammon, like on Saturdays, and they played mostly for beer, ha-ha. They laughed at it themselves, that they were playing for beer.

Is that where your love for the game came from?

And from there, my mother also plays backgammon, she plays so powerfully, like people from villages, you know, loudly. We had a large backgammon board at home, not like these, and the very process of opening them was already quite brutal. And lately I noticed that if I go somewhere where there is backgammon, I always play it and enjoy the process, in general I love playing, my mood lifts. That's why I gave myself backgammon for my birthday.

What do you do when you're home alone?

Oh, I dance a lot, do witchy things, ha-ha, I have special music for that. For these special songs, I include suitable scents, candles. But this is all after cleaning the house, because I am obsessed with cleanliness. By the way, I recently talked about this with a friend, that I can just sit down somewhere at home with coffee and just sit quietly for a long time doing nothing. But it seems to me that this is a skill acquired from the village, because I remember how my grandmother Siranush and I sat at the gate and waited for the cows. This is how I’ve been used to sitting, watching and enjoying since childhood.

Yes, now it’s very difficult to sit quietly and do nothing, people are constantly on their phones, even when they eat, they turn on something.

Well, yes, it seems to me that this is a habit of a person from a village, to sit and look at the clouds.

Tell us about your work, what do you do?

With pleasure, as long as I can remember, I have always drawn, then I entered the art academy, graphic design department, and I still work in my profession. At first, I worked in different offices, then my friend and I opened the Kolektiv Design Room. We worked together for a long time, now we also work, but my friend now travels a lot and the work has become a little lighter. But we worked a lot together and had fun.

And about Spontan journal, how did you decide to make it?

Oh, this is such a story, I take a lot of photographs for stories and just for myself, and I photograph something Armenian, real, without artificial layers. And I also associate this with the village, when I, for example, photograph grandfathers, I associate this with those times in the village and with those people. For example, in the village there was a grandfather, a shepherd, he was always in a suit, vest and shoes, always well-groomed, with a stick. And the stick was also unusual, carved with patterns. By the way, we have a very good Soviet book, it contains photographs of Armenia. I still remember this book by heart from childhood. It contains such strong human images that I was able to catch in my life as a child. And when I analyze my work now and the footage from Spontan, I see similarities.

Yes, you can see similarity, here, for example, it looks like this poster on the wall.

Yeah, yes, it probably all started with taxi drivers, I often enter into dialogue with them. When I go to the market, I also communicate very well with grandpas there. And at some point, I began to find out about their lives, take photographs, and film them on video. Then the Kolektiv was at the stage of semi-closure, and I had the idea of staying or leaving the country, the state after the war. Against this background, I began to take more photographs, but it was more connected with the desire to force myself to love more, to try to find something good in the current reality. Then I got very ill and during my illness I didn’t know what to do. I decided to sort the photographs and noticed similar pictures, so we got collections of people from bazaars, a series of hands, and different mixed aesthetics. Then I started putting all the pictures together and something started to come together. As a result, we printed 100 Spontans.

Will there be Spontan 2?

I would really like to, but I'm so shy that I print photos I took on my phone. But inside it says that the pictures were actually taken spontaneously on a phone.

Yes, but since it was photographed on a phone and is visible, there is something real and everyday about it.

Well, yes, I also often buy things from the same people and take pictures of them. And I understand that these people were in my life, for example, a year ago, I have photographs of them on my phone, it’s like I’m living life with them. There is a grandmother who knows what time I go out during each day and what flowers I like. She brings me different flowers each season. I also divided the pictures into two sections, more feminine and masculine. When my child sees such grandfathers on the street, he immediately shows me, ha-ha. But I find a common language with them very well. As a result, in the book there are women at the beginning, more feminine photographs, and then men. There is a picture with grapes at the beginning; it reminded me very much of my grandmother’s painting in the village, so I arranged them like this on the adjacent pages.

Tell us about this wonderful creature (the cat).

I bought this wonderful creature for my birthday a year ago, this year I bought backgammon, last year I bought a cat, ha-ha. I always liked dogs and played with them in the yard, but we never kept dogs at home. And this apartment is small for a dog, so I started thinking about a cat. My friend once said that she found a cat for me and since I am a rather spontaneous person, I very spontaneously bought it.

The name is gorgeous, Piso (kitten).

Ha-ha, yes, Piso. I was thinking of coming up with something more unusual, but there is no better name than Piso.

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