Undoing Denials during a Venice Biennale’s Armenian Pavilion

August 25, 2015 - accent chair

A perspective of San Lazarro degli Armeni, a site of a Armenian Pavilion for a 2015 Venice Biennale. (all photos Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

A perspective of a island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, a site of a Armenian Pavilion for a 2015 Venice Biennale. (all photos by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Editor’s note: The following minute was initial published in a catalog for Armenity, that accompanied a Armenian pavilion of a same name during a 2015 Venice Biennale. The Amenity muster won this year’s Golden Lion for best inhabitant pavilion at a Venice Biennale. 

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But they will also be opposite — different from how they used to be, these songs. For we have incited and found yearning during my side, and we have looked into her eyes, and now she leads me with a solid hand.

—Rilke, in a extensive adore minute antiquated Jul 6, 1898


Since a pregnancy a integrate of decades ago following Armenia’s independence, a curatorial instruction of a inhabitant pavilion during a Venice Biennale leaned primarily towards showcasing artists who work/live in Yerevan. Except when sponsors were needed, a appearance of a tellurian diaspora was mostly bypassed and unaccompanied to one or dual expats and an occasional luminary artist.

Mikayel Ohanjanyan, Tasnerku (2015) (click to enlarge)

Mikayel Ohanjanyan, “Tasnerku” (2015) (click to enlarge)

Logistical and element problems in organizing such general endeavour noted, a creation of a events reflected a close-knit informative policies/politics of a inner powers that be, with a diaspora comparison peaceful to support them generally out of patriotism. Such approaches have to date proven to be deficient to cultivating a sound enlightenment of giving that recognizes artistic prolongation as a required investment in a society’s growth.

Regardless, a pavilion has served as an vicious height to deliver to general audiences a contributions of some conspicuous inner artists, as good as art professionals whose sum efforts imparted profitable insights about a post-soviet predicament, as good as a complexities and hurdles of undoing executive narratives, that promote a essay of new (art) histories.

The broader power of such platforms, however, remained untapped quite as it relates to bridging a extant socio-political gaps between inside/outside or homeland/diaspora. This favoured diagnosis of a “native as some-more authentic” during times strong a “othering of a diaspora” that could be found abundantly elsewhere, generally opposite a severed borders of Armenia.

Armenity in many ways attempts to make adult for a prerequisite combined in a processes summarized above. As a pretension suggests, a endeavour proposes a transnational clarification of a common identity. With diasporan roots that camber opposite time and geography, a vaunt highlights artists who are mostly a grandchildren of Armenian Genocide survivors, imprinting one of a worldwide centennial commemorations of a 1915 Catastrophe, even nonetheless it does not find to re-present genocide.

The word “Armenity” is occasionally used and rings as unfamiliar or even invented, quite to a ears of those not informed in a nuances of a Western Armenian language, that has been strictly famous as endangered. By selecting it a curator, Adelina Cüberyan v. Fürstenberg, opens a window to suppose a nicely over a proportions of geography, and a temperament politics pragmatic by a some-more ordinarily used tag “Armenianness.” Armenity’s curatorial preference also transcends a domestic exactness of groups within a bounds of diasporan communities that tend to instrumentalize artists for a consequence of a given giveaway cause, rather than caring about and ancillary a broader bargain of informative prolongation as a motorist of concrete change.

Detail of Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas's When counting loses a clarity (2015) installation

Detail of Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas’s “When counting loses a sense” (2015), installation

Closer to a some-more philosophical and literary banking of a tenure aghet (catastrophe), Armenity reminds us that a nicely competence have together and not indispensably paradoxical or oppositional self-namings that plan a resources of stances. As suggested by a altogether concerns addressed in a exhibited works, a tenure Armenity delineates a reduction familiar, some-more formidable and quieted perceptions of identification. Armenity then, like many of a participating artists, exists in a margins of common consciousness, patiently and rigorously enchanting a spectator with a contemporary realities of a consistent making, unmaking, and remaking. It offers a cluster of concept manifest languages that mediate, overpass and interpret sold issues.

Marginalization is also clear in a preference of San Lazzaro island as a venue. Also innate from exilic conditions of silencing and persecution, a nunnery became a energetic transnational site for a collection, maintenance, interpretation and distribution of “great texts” to and from Armenia. A paradise built out of prerequisite to offer informative scrutiny and renovation is during risk today. As discussed below, several of a artworks finished privately for Armenity respond to a diasporic difficulty of this vicious site.

Haig Aivazian's Hastayim Yasiyorum (I am sick, yet we am alive) (2014)

Haig Aivazian’s “Hastayım Yaşıyorum (I Am Sick, But we Am Alive)” (2014) in a categorical library during San Lazzaro

With a difference of comparison or some-more determined artists like Sarkis, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, and Anna Boghiguian, a infancy of a sixteen artists exhibiting in Armenity have gained inflection or entered a contemporary art stage in a final decade or so. Like a curator of a exhibition, they are improved famous in Europe and a Middle East, where many are based. While dual are from Brazil and Argentina, 3 are from a United States, and a integrate some-more combine with their partners, also artists, who are of Italian and Palestinian origin. Possessing chronological links to a Ottoman Empire, all are multilingual and polycentric. Many come from newcomer families who gifted a Lebanese polite war, a Iranian revolution, or Soviet rupture. Some are also behind and forth-ers to Armenia, while others have usually begun to learn their ­ancestral homeland in Turkey. The exhibit’s significance on artists from Europe and a Middle East reflects several factors including a presentation of new art-destinations and art-economies in places like Dubai, Sharjah and Istanbul; a support for some-more middle initiatives in informative hubs like Beirut, Cairo and Jerusalem, and a pull towards multiculturalism and integration, all of that pitch a change from New York’s prevalence of a general (art) stage given World War II.

As tellurian citizens, these artists grew adult navigating by a unsafe times of a final several decades caused by useful developments including a tumble of a ­Eastern Block, a arrangement of a European Union, synthetic and healthy disasters ­like Chernobyl, a finish of Apartheid, accelerated globalization and migration, a technological array that supposing incomparable entrance to Internet and amicable media, a murder of Hrant Dink, a resurgence of Cold War politics, and new domestic upheavals in a Middle East and beyond.

Rosana Palazyan's Por que Daninhas/Why Weeds? (2006–15)

Rosana Palazyan’s “Por que Daninhas/Why Weeds?” (2006–15) in a yard of a monastery

Conscious of other kinds of ruptures, assault and displacement, and not simply chronological or Armenian ones, a indirect existential push-and-pull led these and other diaspora artists and intellectuals to doubt their prescribed/inherited common identities, and to benefit group by translating their newly-found subjectivities into artistic practices that tend to reinscribe, revalue, renew, even interrupt bound informative identifications.

Inherent in this repositioning of former informative signifiers is a change from representing (i.e. a genocide) to questioning modes of (its) representations. By forging cultured strategies that meddle with a slow effects of a continued rejection of a Armenian disaster or aghet, these experimentations give new aptitude to iconic chronological artifacts, figures, places, and events. In doing so they conflict a duration of nauseating images of victims, ruins, etc. that unconsciously repeat a initial vigilant of a denier, rather than enabling new possibilities of being or becoming.

As collection of forked critique and persuasion, a exhibited works collectively offer us choice histories and informative mappings that bypass executive narratives confirmed in refuge ideologies and tired jingoist rhetoric, that date behind to a ­19th-century ethos of inhabitant awakenings that coincided with a appearance of a technological array that gave us a copy press.

Artistic use for these artists also comparison a commodification of art. Incorporating opposite media, quite archival materials, performance, sound, and light, ­many of a works fabricated here trigger a transformative experience. They assistance strew residues of banishment and detriment by instigating new memories.

Encountering these works is like holding a counterpart to inner states of conformity, inertia, and recession that repeat denial, opposite and dumping of trauma, as perpetuated by denialist regimes.

The worldliness of this post-1990s era derives in partial from an approval of a contributions of their artistic precursors (such as a Conceptual, Minimalist, Situationist, Happenings, and criticism artists of a 1960s), whose works noted grave and contextual departures from a cultured sensibilities of what came before (i.e. Abstract Expressionism exemplified by Arshile Gorky and a successive era of modernist practices) and addressed a socio-political concerns of a time (i.e. a Vietnam war, polite rights, feminist and assent movements).

A 17th-century Armenian publishing by Hakob Yerekts of Tiflis, left, during a San Lazzaro monastery, and on a right Sarkis and Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi's Rotolo Armeno (2012) watercolor on paper scroll

A 17th-century Armenian publishing by Hakob Yerekts of Tiflis, left, on arrangement in a publishing library of the San Lazzaro monastery, and on a right, Sarkis and Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi’s “Rotolo Armeno” (2012), watercolor on paper scroll, that was on arrangement in one of a description corridors of a complex.

In this context, a inclusion of works by Sarkis and Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi — pioneers in their sold practices of early Conceptual and Installation Art, as good as in a innovative use of archival film footage — dot artistic lineages found with a younger generation. By exhibiting these works side by side for a initial time, ­Armenity attests to continuities, notwithstanding discontinuities, that camber opposite time and space.

Some of a works anxiety a abounding threads and textures of ancient Armenian traditions (i.e. folklore, mythology, publishing illumination, engraving, embroidery), not to replicate yet to giveaway their contextual stasis by infusing them with contemporary definition and relevance. The joining of these artists recalls Gothic monks whose experimentations contributed to informative rebirths (i.e. a invention of an alphabet in 405 AD and graphic architectural styles of a 5th–7th and 10th–12th centuries) that in spin ­were shabby by a upsurge of capital, ideas and trends (in art, literature, design, fashion) finished probable by comparison tellurian networks of trade and clientele systems.

The hybridity of their inspirational sources motivate these artists to examine a multiplex of particularities and to interpret them into unaccompanied cultured languages. But these are not narratives of explanation and externality; rather they are insinuate expressions of a silences that give us postponement from a weight of a unspeakable. They are like a collection of adore poems that no longer prolonged to go — they belong.

Mekhitar Garabedian's roughly invisible embossed square placed in a library for people to take. It facilities a poem by Taniel Varoujan.

Mekhitar Garabedian’s roughly invisible embossed square placed in a library for people to take. It facilities a poem by Taniel Varoujan.


Now we come to we full of future. And from robe we start to live a past.


My Ani do not cry
Please do not cry
But we can collect your ashes
Your past in a vase that is partial of a history, there we can accommodate a eternal

In a new email this is how Anna Boghiguian describes a print and sketch designation that she is scheming for Armenity, that deals with her revisit to a ancient city of Ani that lies on a limit of Armenia, in Turkey. Her matter refers to a renouned early complicated picture constructed by a Mekhitarist monks, that has been reproduced for over a century in Armenian denunciation and story textbooks, as good as in calendars, pivotal bondage and other such souvenirs. Rendered in a neoclassical style, Ani has been personified as a incomparable than life womanlike figure, stoically sitting on a hull of a many churches that a city is famous for, anguish her (self?) destruction. The producer in Boghiguian finds no comfort in what’s turn a prosaic portrayal, and is in a routine of inscribing a some-more wise temperament to a city’s past mass where “ … caravans from Asia came to deposition their things and to accept some-more things and silk to continue their proceed towards Arabia.” For her project, Boghiguian has comparison a little room in a friar formidable where meagre furnishings like a desk, a chair and some books entice a caller to lay and anticipate “the traveler as a monk,” that also alludes to Boghiguian’s possess winding life. She considers a whole star her country. This is reflected in a small-scale drawings finished in opposite media, that she carried by palm in a boghcha from place to place, visually chronicling an intuitively viewed universe, be it Ethiopia, India, Turkey, Egypt or Canada. The drawings and photos presented here, as a singular book if we will, are desirous by her tarry to Ani, and incorporate her low-pitched writings, particles of wisdom. Like a beeswax that channels prayers by candles, a artist relates a middle to erase subdivision and compensate equal significance to a combined word and a manifest image. Touched by a roses she encountered during her travels in Armenia, Boghiguian envisions her room filled with roses (can we smell a perfume?), usually as several giveaway birds, like a ones that float over Ani’s fantastic healthy landscape (do we feel their freedom?), comparison a geopolitical enigma of Ani, while a rainbow lights this erratic monk’s room, where new narratives are conjured.

Anna Boguian's room installation

Anna Boghiguian’s installation

Artists Silvina Der-Meguerditchian and Rosana Palazyan compensate loyalty to a memory of their grandmothers by piecing together their sold life-journeys as genocide survivors, immigrants and mothers. Their memories are resurrected by revisiting a scarcely pale legacies that any lady left behind — a edging handkerchief finished in a Greek institution that trafficked to Brazil, and a pamphlet on a folk medicine of Aintab printed in Argentina. Der-Meguerditchian does her re-member-ing by a mixed-media designation that uses a aged bookcases and cabinets of a monastery’s library to arrangement samples of a abounding and colorful herbs, flora and fauna compared with a book’s content.

Palazyan, on a other hand, combines animation and elaboration techniques to wobble a video tapestry that follows her subject’s tour that starts from a violent Anatolia, passes by a ease of a Aegean, before settling on another apart seaside to build a family. The strength and resilience of these women sip by both works yet resorting to a assault and nostalgia ordinarily found in a objectified representations of womanlike genocide survivors. Such modernist traditions of illustrating wretchedness (of genocide marches and starving women and children) has been a engrossment of several Armenian masculine artists given a 1940s and 1950s (i.e. Jansaim) who were shabby by a French Miserablist aesthetics (with roots in Gothic Europe) and directed for mass interest and consumption. By violation divided from such unreasoning and violent transferences of trauma, empathize and guilt, Der-Meguerditchian and Palazyan giveaway a devising of womanlike bodies of genocide survivors from a congenital gaze.

One of a early examples in story during that Armenians gifted a diaspora (= apportionment of sperm) came with their forced acclimatisation to Christianity – that resulted in a drop of non-believer temples, goddesses and songs that had existed for centuries. Mikayel Ohanjanyan’s “Tasnerku” sculptural designation revisits a megaliths during Carahunge — one of a few remaining non-believer sites in Armenia — to plead an ancient faith complement formed on cosmology and a twelve beliefs of observational astronomy. The artist, who is Yerevan-born and Florence-based, resorts to architectural building plans, churned distance basalt blocks and steel discs to reconstruct a site on one of a island’s terraces. His recharting also conform to a twelve provinces of exemplary or Greater Armenia to ring a belonging / not belonging of a innumerable of civilizations that have crossed it. Similarly, a theatricality of Ohanjanyan’s geometric abstractions prove affinities filtered by post-World War we artistic movements such as Constructivism – i.e. Tatlin’s “counter reliefs” and Malevich’s Suprematism – as good as Arte Povera’s use of common objects, that were afterwards transposed by Soviet Social Realism.

How does one execute silence, a low roots and noisy ring, yet violating a identity? That is a plea that a Damascus-born and London-based photographer Hrair Sarkissian tackles. His emotionally charged “portraits” understanding with Muslim Turkish adults who have in new years been entrance out or attempting to retrieve their Christian Armenian lineages. These unclothed photographs enclose no people, usually a interiors of their subject’s private environments, extended by thespian lighting and pointy contrasts that prominence a mundane. Yet Sarkissian craft-fully captures a psychological power concerned in entrance out, as they promulgate (not document) a fears, a shame, a weight and a disunion gifted in this process.

Hera B's Letters from Lost Paradise (2015)

Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s “Letters from Lost Paradise” (2015)

Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s appreciation of her birthright gets rekindled when she reads Lord Byron’s letters associated to his sojourns during San Lazzaro to learn Armenian. The British poet’s mindfulness with a enlightenment and a “language of a other” causes a artist to doubt her possess ambivalence about many things Armenian while a immature tyro during a Mekhitarist propagandize in Istanbul. Her use of oversized Armenian letter-stamps that mention a preference of a poet’s papers (i.e. Lost Paradise) increase a prevalent setting, and use, of Lord Byron’s room during a nunnery by giving voice to and creation manifest a mislaid memories of a island that once stood as a guide of spirituality and knowledge.

Photographs by Aram Jibilian

Photographs by Aram Jibilian

Aram Jibilian’s photographs activate memories of a really opposite place in another dilemma of a world. They understanding with his tarry to Arshile Gorky’s studio-home in Connecticut and a town’s tomb where a eminent painter – a survivor of a Genocide who hung himself during a age of forty-four – is buried. Taking clues from spook stories recounted by Gorky’s neighbors, Jibilian channels a un-dead-ness of a late painter in ways that make us doubt what is remembered or mislaid about Gorky. The artless photographs of a tree, a white sheet, and a meagre tombstone poise as small clues to a unknowable.  Even with a vivid gawk of one of Gorky’s masks formed on a iconic self-portrait of a late artist and his mother, Jibilian seems to remind us that to clarity a law about Gorky’s predicament, and a believe of a Catastrophe, requires some-more than contribution as evidence.

Another perspective of Gabri and Anastas's When counting loses a clarity (2015) installation

Another perspective of Gabri and Anastas’s “When counting loses a sense” (2015), installation

Rene Gabri Ayreen Anastas’s appearance involves holding photographs from books housed during a Mekhitarist library that snippet Near Eastern histories and physically inserted on them — by cutting, cropping, writing, coloring, utilizing and typing over them to emanate elegant collages, as a form of investigate that enables one to overcome a inertness of a chronological artifacts. As a artists are meddlesome in a idea of parody, another aspect of their plan manifests as a transport by a drift of a nunnery where traces of their work were left for warn encounters. Known for requesting identical approaches during other art destinations, a couple’s choice “survey” of a Near East extends a palimpsest of chronological lines to reconsider: a propinquity of early Christianity to certain philosophies and practices of late Antiquity, a Mekhitarist village and story of a island, a European imagination of a Orient, a crusades, a massacres of a 1800’s, a Armenian Genocide, a Russian Revolution, a World War we and retraction of a Ottoman Empire, a racial clarification of Palestine, a doubt of denunciation in a context of these histories, narration, storytelling, testimony, truth-telling, a contemporary struggles in a region, forgiveness, mourning, and ethics.

A work by Aikaterini Gegisian of Greece in a foreground

A work by Aikaterini Gegisian of Greece in a forehead (click to enlarge)

Aikaterini Gegisian’s collages and artist’s book plan recycled reproductions found in several publications from Greece, Armenia and Turkey. Produced in a 1960s and 1980s, they functioned as instruments of republic building to captivate tourists, and commerce.  The artist’s shrewd and visually layered regroupings of these simply consumable ideological “ready-mades” move forth, notwithstanding their sold differences, a commonalities between a failures of these nation-states. As any nation’s construction/branding of an aura of aberration dissolves into Gegisian’s resourceful reconstructions we are left belonging to a utopia, a non extant country.

For several decades, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi have been creation use of early 20th-century archival film to furnish new work that alters a definition or vigilant of a originary footage. Without oral difference or voice-over narration, and with minimal interjections of tone and strange sound compositions, their initial documentaries mount as touching commentaries opposite star wars, fascism, and colonialism.

One of a dual works enclosed in Armenity is an difference to their mostly wordless film approach. Made in 1986, “Ritorno a Khodorciur” is about Gianikian’s father Raphael — a genocide survivor — who in 1976, after months of preparation, returned to Turkey. The film shows Raphael reading from his unpublished diaries that he kept around his life yet refused to speak about a content. He travels alone on feet in hiking boots and a super 8 camera and annals with good fact what stays of his mislaid childhood town, including deserted villages, houses in ruins, mountains, rocks and vegetation. With photos of a aged republic during palm his “pilgrimage” — a guarantee finished to his hermit in Georgia — also creates him a guest in places where he once belonged. As people start to remember his family, Raphael’s believe of a Turkish and Kurdish languages is regained, and conversations about what happened to a Armenians reveal with him appearing like a spook to his hosts. The film interweaves past and benefaction as a father organizes a traces that request his childhood, while his son, a filmmaker, learns about his family’s tragedy for a initial time.

To pill irretrievable loss, redress wrongs, and give absences a participation infrequently requires a gifts of an alchemist. These are a forms of philosophical speculations concerned in unpractical artist Sarkis’s practice.Take his “Atlas de Mammuthus Intermedius,” for instance. This sculpture finished of what looks like a stays of an ancient gigantic structure, maybe even a perished creature, also carries traces of a new involvement finished manifest by a belt-like badge of bullion that binds a frail fragments of a square together. To revive a grace of this huge bone, a artist turns to a Japanese art of Kintsugi used to correct damaged pottery, with seams of gold, in a proceed that creates a damaged vessel even some-more pleasing and profitable than it was before. One website describes a technique as an suitable embellishment for ways of traffic with a damaged places that life gives all of us, or anticipating treasures in life’s scars.

Hrair Sarkissian's dim Armenians series

Hrair Sarkissian’s ‘Unexposed’ array that portrays a “hidden Armenians” of Turkey

What if what’s damaged is a country, as a juncture of one of a other works enclosed in Armenity suggests? Photographed in Armenia, “Croix de brique” depicts dual bricks noted by bake marks, differently resting sum in a raise of stones and mud, side by side and combining a cross. Despite a image’s ambiguity, a comparison of a crosses’ rejected state with a apocalyptic socio-political and mercantile state of Armenia is unavoidable. And while it conjures many reasons for a condition — including a country’s frail geopolitical position and a sealed borders with a rich and strong neighbor(s) — the juncture implies that a Kintsugi-like opening for Armenia in a foreseeable destiny seems improbable.

This middle tender gains serve sobriety given a fact that this year Sarkis has also been comparison to paint a inhabitant pavilion of his republic of birth Turkey, during a Venice Biennale. It competence be value observant that Sarkis banished himself to Paris in a 1960s, that has been his adopted republic since. Recent developments surrounding “dialogue and reconciliation” — aside from his acceptance of a invitation to this poignant impulse of “return” — is a primary instance of how a artist lives, acts upon, what his works have stood for many years.

Sarkis's designation in a front room of a church during San Lazzaro

Sarkis’s designation in a front room of a church during San Lazzaro

As partial of his large-scale, multimedia designation for this useful occasion, a artist has comparison to hang from a cathedral-like ceilings of a sensuous Turkish Pavilion during a Giardini, a staggering portraits of Paradjanov, Hrant Dink and Gezi Park. A organisation that clearly draws parallels between several manifold nonetheless identical rough pasts and presents, pasts that do not pass, yet rather reincarnate.

Another shred of his plan involves a immature Venetian lady carrying an antique china belt from Van behind and onward between a Armenian and Turkish Pavilions — two adjacent nations that used to be partial of a Ottoman Empire yet have existed with severed tactful family for a century. While a context of a portraits in a categorical pavilion compels us to anticipate a transnational inlet of inner and outmost exile, this smaller, quieter, gesticulate points to a infirmity and doubt of reconciliatory measures. Like a rainbow that radiates on and off of a designation site — a transnational home divided from home — a erratic belt also promises a spark of wish in undoing wrongs, improving a century of disconnects, vouchsafing go of tired means, experimenting, starting afresh. Just as a perfect weight of a china belt creates an extraordinary fit on a little waist, a artist’s offer competence during initial seem merely ceremonial. But his entertainment involves a repositioning as well, not around a lapse to aged “customs and costumes” yet by instigating a routine of transformation, whereby a annulment of a effects of rejection and a redefinition of kinships and neighborliness start with a approval of a “other” as equal.

The perfectionist routine of undoing “otherness” travels by a opposite trail in Nigol Bezjian’s five-channel video projection Witness.ed. Here a charge is inner and relies on a incremental nonetheless solid efforts of an open of colorful “actors” in a immeasurable and incongruous transnational space of Armenity. The square deals with a array of readings, or takes on a life and work of Daniel Varoujan, one of a poets of a late Ottoman Armenian literary Renaissance (Zartonk) who in 1915, during a age of thirty-one, was among several other distinguished Armenian intellectuals arrested and killed not distant from Istanbul. This work is excerpted from Bezjian’s longer documentary on a same theme that excavates a past-present significance of a producer whose anarchist voice was marginalized within both Turkish and Armenian egghead circles, eventually heading to his comfortless death. Through a film we transport to places like Venice and Ghent (Varoujan was prepared during a Mekhitarist propagandize and a university of Ghent before returning to Turkey to teach), as good as Aleppo, Beirut, Yerevan, Paris, Milan and New Jersey: a poet’s imprints are gradually retraced in a filmic clustering of cross-disciplinary and multilingual interpretations. As their ardent performances filter, any with graphic intonation, a poet’s stances on love, lust, paganism, metaphysics and spirituality that critiqued oppression, slavery, crime and gender inequality in a Ottoman Empire, we improved know not usually a poser surrounding his ancestral genocide yet a perpetuation. As viewers we turn witnesses to a poet’s profanation quite in a shred of a video projection where contemporary French-Armenian philosopher and literary censor Marc Nichanian, sitting in an Istanbul high-rise (with a Bosphorous dotted by minarets and a Turkish flags as background), eloquently reframes Varoujan. As Nichanian states, Varoujan was wakeful of a tentative disaster and used his communication to partial with a testimony which, among other things, cautioned that sum obliteration occurs when a multitude is not authorised to mourn, or if a multitude forgets how to mourn, and that artistic use is a usually proceed to retreat that (self) denial. Varoujan, who had once celebrated that suspicion becomes tone in Venice, was also during contingency with a otherworldly teachings of a Mekhitarist. It is wise indeed that Witness.ed is being shown in a 300-year-old copy trickery of a friar formidable that has been incited into a museum.

Mekhitar Garabedian who has lived in Ghent many of his life, also has a square on Varoujan that consists of a smoke-stack of posters that visitors can take divided as souvenirs. Embossed on this white-on-white minimalist combination are phrases in Armenian carried from a commemorative board dedicated to Varoujan that hangs during a university of Ghent’s ­library. Unnoticeable during first, a print by a gigantic numbers intentionally reproduces a unintelligibility of a board as encountered by many library visitors. In serve to posing as a explanation on a consequences of a banishment of a Western Armenian language, this square also creates us consider about how a unfamiliar book in a horde republic risks apropos an artifact, a emblem nude of definition and of a probability of apropos a functioning language. Another square by Garabedian duplicates a list of essence of a text in French called “Histoire de mes ancêtres (History of my Ancestors)” that was constructed by a Mekhitarists in 1977, a same year that a artist was innate in Aleppo, once a energetic informative hub. The ragged out dim ink opposite a white page echoes a vanishing banking of a content. As summarized in a taxonomy of a list of contents, story here boundary a devising of a common temperament to a prolonged method of oppositional paradigms (good/evil, hero/villain) and a collapsing of fabulous and tangible sum or events, framed mostly as tragedies incited into supernatural victories, whereby any contextual or vicious thoughtfulness is obstructed. And a World Is Alive. “And Van Is Alive” is a neon light square that quotes from Burning Orchards — a novel by Kurken Mahari who as a child lived by a overthrow and successive seizure of his local city of Van nearby Ani, before nearing in a newly-formed Republic of Armenia which, like a investiture of complicated Turkey, was combined artificially. Written after being banished 10 years in Siberia for his progressing writings, Mahari’s novel was criminialized in Soviet Armenia on a initial announcement in 1966, a duration of inhabitant reawakening noted by large demonstrations and a building of a initial genocide commemorative complex. Censors criminialized a book, even forced him to rewrite it, given Mahari had decorated Van not as a saved chronological place solidified in time yet a star that’s really many alive, respirating by his biased recollections of standard people and life, and mostly vocalization in opposing tenses: present, past and future. In an astonishing nonetheless insinuate environment on a island, Garabedian’s square waits to be discovered, formulating a clarity of awkwardness that comes from not belonging to a place, and from being outward history.

Nina Katchadourian’s Accent Elimination designation in one of a monastery's value rooms

Nina Katchadourian’s “Accent Elimination” designation in one of a monastery’s value rooms

Nina Katchadourian’s “Accent Elimination” offers an mocking comment of what happens when one attempts to exterminate strangeness. For her multiple-screen video designation a artist employed a eminent debate dilettante to method her parents’ graphic nonetheless formidable to snippet accents and afterwards learn her theirs. Scripted by a parents, a video’s elementary account is formed on questions asked from strangers traffic with where they any come from. As a complete coaching and rehearsals unfold, we learn that a accent of a father, Herant, is a reduction of Armenian, Turkish, Arabic, and French, with a hold of Swedish, that is his wife’s mom tongue. When attempting to place his accent, Herant discloses that many people mistake him for a Hungarian. Then we learn that a ­mother’s accent is indeed Finnish-Swedish, given Stina comes from a Swedish-speaking minority vital in Finland. Stina also schooled Armenian after marrying Herant in method to promulgate with his family. The integrate met in Beirut and have been vital for decades in a United States, where a artist was born. At a frustrating nonetheless laughable impulse a video captures Nina practicing how to contend a word “Armenian” with a standard forced “R,” and a sounds “AR – ARM – ARMY” are steady with varying pauses and significance compartment she gets a right pronunciation. Since AR means “take” in Armenian, this unscripted method of utterances renovate a scene, as good as a work, into a pitch of rebuttal and survival.

Melik Ohanian’s Streetlights of Memory – A Stand by Memorial

Melik Ohanian’s “Streetlights of Memory – A Stand by Memorial”

Resistance takes on another form in Melik Ohanian’s “Streetlights of Memory – A Stand by Memorial” that is partial of dual associated projects called “Presence.” This large-scale open sculpture that sits in a garden of a friar formidable consists of tighten to dual hundred pieces that are away expel in aluminum and afterwards reassembled to expose, if we like, a “guts” of a former existence. Collapsed hull that can't be hull given they have been resurrected, not to replicate a prior temperament yet to forge a new one that embodies caught fragments of a past. The story of this square starts in 2010 when Ohanian’s pattern for a commemorative in Geneva unanimously won a foe for a city’s open art project. Submitted by member of a Armenian village in partnership with a city as a benefaction to Geneva, Ohanian’s offer was/is formed on a streetlight from 1920s New York – an standard yet mislaid vigilant of an civic landscape, now remembered by assigning it a new function. To be double in numbers and diluted around a open park in Geneva, any eight-meter-tall streetlight’s source of light is transposed by a chrome tear, while a stick becomes a support for engraved texts.

Contextually sold and concept during a same time, a doing of this supportive and elegant memorial, after going by extensive processes of approvals by engineers as good as a array of authorities (including plcae changes and topographical revisions) is now stalled due to vigour from a Turkish community, involving politicians and a UN. The San Lazzaro version, then, gives us a glance of a memorial’s ongoing life while also addressing a broader condition. As Ohanian states, what would existence be like if seen from a distance… as archetypes seem and converge, between start and destination, in incessant constructions? Belonging to a benefaction for a artist means to go to several places, several times, during a same time.The second installment of “Presence” involves a minute announcement that chronicles a life of Streelights of Memory and a array of associated workshops hold during off-site venues by Ohanian in Venice.

“Hastayım Yaşıyorum (I Am Sick, But we Am Alive)” is Haig Aivazian’s initial piece, associated to his ongoing and extensively researched plan on Turkish-Armenian oud master Udi Hrant Kenkulian (1901–1978). In method to “cure” his blindness, Udi Hrant, as he was known, trafficked a star to perform and teach. Here, this exquisitely-crafted sculpture in a figure of a larger-than-life, stringless, oud that is incited upside down rests disquietly on dual stools. Aivazian’s incomparable plan involves a untangling of a formidable modernist erect that resulted in a standardization of art, music, literatures, and folklore during a finish of a Ottoman Empire. Based on European models, this expostulate towards ethnography arrived to a Armenian feel in a 1890s by polyphonization and Western low-pitched footnote and widespread by a 1920s with a investiture of a Turkish Republic.

One of a executive staircases of San Lazzaro with a partially dim work by Sarkis during a core by a feet of a stairs.

One of a executive staircases of San Lazzaro with a partially dim work by Sarkis during a core by a feet of a stairs (click to enlarge)

Taking cues from how a instrument is indeed played by Makams and Taksims as good as a etymological nuances of both terms, Aivazian helps us understand how this routine of Turkification or “purification” implies a entrance together and interruption of altered or silenced Ottoman and post-Ottoman music. (Taksims are improvisations of a Makams, initial and proprietor modes, that quit around a opening afterwards solemnly lapse to a strange to conclude.) Classical Turkish art and strain were really many a partial of a Turkification routine that pitted one set of claims of “purity” opposite a other.

The pretension of a square comes from a song, that aside from a easy organisation with a “Sick Man of Europe” used to report a late Ottoman Empire, alludes to Hrant who was also lovesick, yearning or melancholically waiting, not usually for his resounding adore yet for his steer to return.

In addition, as Aivazian has forked out, a pretension refers to an altogether sadness benefaction in Turkish enlightenment and worldly discourses associated to presence and to a determined memories of “minority others.” These are in existence deeply painful and discontinued chronological absences/presences that ring in a physicality of a stringless oud, as if it were a review that incited inward, nonetheless still wishes to be heard.

The stools that are partial of a combination imply a master-pupil origin in transmitting around exercise and practice, while a believe is never wholly upheld on or during slightest stays partly a tip for a tyro to try over time. This is identical to a demeanour in that a creation of a instrument itself is taught, a trade in that Armenians and Greeks were among a many distinguished and reputable practitioners. Aivazian’s oud, that poses as a poser given it also looks like a vessel or a tomb, serves as a pivotal design to enthuse serve reflections on a roving patterns of Udi Hrant, and a demeanour in that those intertwined patterns that are mostly viewed as “Armenian” enlightenment are transmitted, widespread and preserved.

*    *    *

Author’s note: As one co-worker observed, we have attempted to prominence a connectors within a farrago of works presented in Armenity by a décalage of fits and stops, articulations and disarticulations, claims and challenges. Mostly, all a pieces seem as “dropouts” from a hegemons opposite that we are in common struggle. Even nonetheless some of a pieces were still in their formulation stages, this essay was facilitated by my laxity with many of a artists’ past works as good as by a new correspondences. Any misreadings of their vigilant or work is cave alone.

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