The rough drafts at Artpace
The Paris-based artist Melik Ohanian utilizes an interdisciplinary approach in the creation of his work. However, film and still photography stand out as his primary mediums. In 2005, I assisted International Artist-in-Residence Melik during his 05.3 residency at Artpace. A particular moment that stands out is the time we spent filming an oil pumpjack amidst the setting South Texas sun. It is important to point out that our oil pump jack odyssey was unrelated to Melik’s Artpace exhibition.
Often times, resident artists work on a number of different projects, however the artists need more time ruminating with the work before it’s exhibited. Months and years later, after applying conceptual rigor to the physical work, these projects are displayed in other museums and institutions.
Back to the story—one rainy day, Melik approached me with his request to film an oil pumpjack, to which I was initially skeptical of because of the inclement weather. However, Melik was unwavering (it was his final day at Artpace), so we departed southward in hopes of finding an oil field. As luck would have it, in the face of growing doubt, we found the perfect location under perfect skies on a dirt road, east of Floresville.
The compiled footage became Melik’s video, Hidden, a deceptively complicated piece that resonates to this day.
More information regarding Hidden in its completed form can be found here.