This Saturday, the HAYP team travelled to Gyumri to give a talk at KASA – Fondation Humanitaire Suisse.
If you haven’t heard of KASA before, we encourage you to have a look at their activities. They’re awesome. They implement a zillion projects all over Armenia, from professional courses for tourist guides to fun and educational activities for children and teenagers. They have a group of teenagers in Gyumri who regularly come together to translate Wikipedia articles into Armenian… and basically make the world knowledge available to their compatriots.
Being a Swiss foundation, KASA also has a francophone agenda, and that’s how we got involved with them in the first place. Once every few months, they organize round tables in French to discuss literature, art, architecture, or any other topic their guests feel passionate about. Obviously, the french-speaking community is kind of a niche market in Armenia, but it’s not as little as I had initially pictured.
Anna and I met with the awesome people behind KASA Gyumri, and gave a talk about art and community engagement, or, in French, “Engager le public à travers l’art”.
Believe it or not, it was actually the first time Anna and I gave a presentation in French!
And even though it is my native language, it was a challenge to translate the words we usually use to describe HAYP, from “pop up gallery” (galerie éphémère, nomade, itinérante?) to “community engagement” (engagement communautaire? engagement du public?) and “think outside the box” (remettre en question les normes institutionnelles? baaaah).
We talked about the democratization of services, the disappearance of the middle man, new consumers, and what that means in the art world. How do we engage our public? How can we make the community willing to participate?
We talked about ancient, and new forms of public art – from sculptures in public spaces, to Augmented-Reality art pieces and objects infused with artificial intelligence. We also explained about our past projects and our attempts to make art fun and accessible to everyone through the pop up gallery model.
After our presentation, we had a good discussion with participants… and then we learnt something amazing.
Back in October, we had organized a 4-day art installation and series of performance in the Yerevan-Gyumri train (the “In Motion” extravaganza: 3 wagons, 4 days, 40 artists). On Saturday, we were told by a regular commuter that ever since “In Motion”, he regularly saw performances on the train; people bringing their musical instruments along and gigging during the 3 hour ride.
“I think your really changed something”, he said. “It never used to happen before”. Nothing could have made us happier.
We’re going to give the same talk at KASA – Yerevan branch (29, Nalbandyan Street) on Saturday, February 27, at 5:30pm.