by Charlotte Poulain
Last weekend, the HAYP team traveled to Gyumri – Armenia’s second largest city, described by many as the country’s historical cultural capital.
In the last few years, Gyumri has seen a lot of movement. The Gyumri Technology center, or “Techno park”, opened its doors in 2014, and more recently, the Friends of Gyumri foundation, Gyumri Project Hope, and dozens of international conferences and events have taken root. You may remember last year’s Luys i Luso installation in October 2015, or this year’s workshop by John Stanmeyer of National Geographic. This summer a documentary screenwriting residency brought together Armenian, Georgian and Turkish screenwriters and directors to promote regional exchange. Slowly but surely, things are starting to bubble.
Anna, for one, is convinced that Gyumri has the potential to become “the next Tbilisi” (understand: a hotspot for European travelers, architecture lovers, and party enthusiasts). But until it achieves this kind of international visibility, Gyumri remains a core national artistic hub, and that’s the reason why we’re so drawn to it.
We went there on Saturday to partake in one of our favourite activities: location scouting. Finding a good location is one of the key success factors for any pop up gallery, and it comes with its own set of rules: we need a space that’s empty, full of character, in line with the exhibit’s theme, equipped with amenities such as heating and running water (a bathroom is always a plus), and that’s not too far from the city center….
This time, we were scouting for HAYP’s next adventure, a three-fold project that includes interviews, a workshop (New Illuminations from November 4-8) and an exhibit (HAYP 8.0: Codex, opening November 18). We’d heard about a potential match through the grapevine (fact: the Armenian grapevine is actually the most efficient networking system in the world #bambasel #բամբասել)…
We don’t want to disclose too much for now, but let us say this: we’re impressed. Very impressed.
But HAYP prep-work is not only about taking Instagram pictures in beautiful, dusty houses (although if you’re into that… you should definitely follow us on Instagram). This weekend, we also reconnected with Susanna from KASA foundation (where we gave a talk back in February) and discussed potential collaboration for this upcoming project.
We also had the chance to catch up with Michel Davoudian, CEO of APAGA Technologies. If the name sounds familiar to you, that’s because APAGA sponsored HAYP4.0: IN MOTION – when we took over the Yerevan-Gyumri train with art and performance for 4 days.
Last but not least, on Sunday, after hearing about it for months, we finally got to check out Rob’s Home, a new artsy bar that we quickly dubbed the “Calumet of Gyumri”.
We’ll go back there very soon, and in the meantime, expect to hear from us! We’ll soon publish a call to events and performers for our HAYP 8.0 Event Week, from November 18 to 28.