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Artist Diana Markosian Channels Santa Barbara in Semi-Autobiographical Project

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Scandinavian and Russian artistes love them some Santa Barbara. A year after Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson refilmed and screened episodes of SB in Moscow, Russian-Armenian artist Diana Markosian is channeling the soap in a new exhibit of the same name, debuting in February at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Her Santa Barbara will also be a book, debuting this November.

RELATED: Icelandic Artist to Recreate Santa Barbara in a Russian Museum

The New York Times profiled Markosian, who chose to depict her post-immigration life in the town of Santa Barbara. The journey took her from California to Armenia and found her investigating her own life, which took some soapy twists; Markosian left Russia at a young age and was raised by a man other than her bio dad, whom she didn't see for 15 years. It turned out her mother had been a "mail-order bride."

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Santa Barbara was immensely popular in Soviet Russia in the 1980s and early 1990s. Both Markosian's parents watched the show, the first U.S. soap broadcast on Russian state TV. 

In 2017, Markosian enlisted original SB writer Lynda Myles to pen a screenplay of her life story. She told the Times:

It helped me process my family history and see it as a story. It was still my life, but I could now step back and, in my own way, control it.

A film reenactment of Markosian's own life was meticulously planned. The Times noted:

Santa Barbara” is less a dramatization than a re-enactment. Ms. Markosian worked with her family to ensure that details of the sets and costumes were exactly right; she even traveled to Yerevan, [Armenia] to shoot scenes in the family’s home there, when her mother observed that the Glendale set of their apartment was too roomy.