Belonging to an ancient form of Armenian manuscript-making and an outsider artform, the “Hmayil” is a scroll-shaped amulet with protective magical powers. Created by medieval scribes outside the hegemony of the church, these ribbon-like scrolls included prayers and magical incantations written in Classical Armenian and illustrations depicting canonical Christian figures and scenes as well as the devil and various monsters. If found by the clergy they were immediately burned. They were commissioned for protection during travel, safe returns or hung in homes to ward off evil and protect women during child-birth.
“That You May Return / Եւ գալոց ես“ sources digital archives across the world to create exact replicas of these scrolls and make image-based interventions—I retain the Classical Armenian handwritten text but replaces the illustrations with my photographs of his own diasporic peregrination and travels across the globe. One series of scrolls are interrupted with images from “Oshagan” village (in Armenia)—the name adopted by my grandfather. A second scroll embeds images from my diasporic birthplace, Beirut, Lebanon: a site of multi-generational displacement and trauma. Another incorporates photographs my diasporic family archives.
“That You May Return / Եւ գալոց ես” brings talismanic care to diasporic movement and gestures of return.