By Dalita Khoury and the HAYP team
HAYP’s third year has come to an end, and we have to say, it’s been our most ambitious and exciting year yet. With our largest exhibition in history and our first international exhibit ever, people are really catching on to the HAYP. Before we close the chapter on 2017, we thought we would reminisce about our greatest moments.
NEW TEAM MEMBER
First things first, HAYP’s successes were made possible this year with the help of a new team member, Hasmik Badoyan. Hasmik joined HAYP in the spring of 2017 as a volunteer through Birthright Armenia, and she’s now an indispensable member of the team as the Creative Content Developer and Researcher. Hasmik has a background in cultural studies and project management from the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. She has a particular interest in the revitalization of the public space and how the liminal space creates unique pockets for creative development. Her genuine passion and excitement for what she does shines through in all the hard work she does for HAYP. Thank you Hasmik!
KICKING THINGS OFF
For the first project of 2017, HAYP asked everyone to “slow down, look, listen, and observe” for the exhibition “Downshift.” The concept of this project was to challenge artists and audience members to step away from their busy and scheduled lives and take time to be present and enjoy the current moment. “Downshift,” located in an unused floor of a building off of Northern Avenue, featured 18 artists including international ones for an event week and exhibition.
With their artworks, each of the artists encouraged the audience to tune into their perceptive awareness and notice the little things of the everyday: the sound, sight, smell, and touch that frame our lives.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
The most recent, largest, and “otherworldly” HAYP exhibition to date was, of course, CETI Lab. The idea for CETI Lab was inspired by the international CETI conference that took place at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) in 1971, which gathered together famous researchers and scientists to discuss the possibilities of communicating with aliens
The site-specific exhibition took place throughout the observatory grounds with a special installation at the Herouni Radio-Optic Telescope in Orgov, and featured a group of diverse artists from Armenia, the United States, and Germany including photographers, architects, sculptors, writers, sound and installation artists.
CETI Lab was also HAYP’s first go at organizing an artist residency. During the residency, artists stayed on the observatory grounds where they learned about the history of BAO and astrophysics through organized lectures by scientists and researchers. The artists used these inspirations in their artworks by tackling topics of communication, language, free will and the meaning of being “alien.”
One of the most memorable artworks was “The Unaccountable to the Non-Observer,” a sound installation by visiting Berlin-based artist, Lvis Mejía. Mejía transformed the dish of the Herouni Radio-Optic Telescope in Orgov into an interactive sound mirror with four speakers and four omnidirectional microphones that stimulated audio feedback triggered by the observer and the environment. The installation triggered very powerful reactions from the audience, given the beautiful backdrop and scenery of the valley surrounding the area.
The video below will give you an idea of the scale of that installation.
With over 700 guests in attendance throughout the exhibition week, it was one of the most crowded events at BAO, which has unfortunately long been forgotten since its prime in Soviet times. It was very satisfying to bring awareness and attention back to such a historical part of not just Armenian culture, but scientific history as well.
HAYP IN VENEZIA
They say there is a first for everything – and this year HAYP participated in our first international event at the 57th Venice International Art Biennale. When the opportunity presented itself, we were unsure if we could manage to acquire the proper funding to participate, but within what seemed like an impossible timeframe, we were able to get the project funded and develop a solid concept. We selected an artist whom we thought would make a bold statement: someone highly talented, contemporary, and whose creative voice would propose a fresh perspective on Armenian contemporary art – Gayane Yerkanyan.
Gayane created a site-specific multi-media typographic installation called “NOR DADA: The Grammar of Deconstruction” at the European Cultural Centre’s International Exhibit, “Personal Structures: No Borders.” Rooted in dadaist philosophy, NOR DADA embraced deconstruction as a tool for liberating art from ideological and moral constraints, challenging established structures, and providing opportunities for exploration into new conceptions of modernity. Gayane deconstructed Armenian typography into abstract “non-sense” formal elements, accompanied by video art and augmented reality experience. The installation was on display throughout the biennale, from 13 May – 26 November, 2017.
In addition to Gayane’s installation, HAYP also curated a performance lecture called “By(r)0n1k” written and performed by Aram Atamian, in which a sonnet by 19th century English poet, Lord Byron, is translated, dismantled, and reassembled in order to explore the limits of deconstruction in relation to the transfer of meaning. For behind the scenes info and the artist’s perspective on the piece, read more here.
The performance was presented at Palazzo Rossini in the framework of the Arts and Globalization platform, where talks and discussions by leading curators like Pompidou’s Jean-Hubert Martin, and Tate Modern’s Paul Goodwin discussed the role of art in today’s globalized world.
Outside of our own projects, the HAYP team had the privilege to explore and absorb the overwhelming amount of art on display for the 57th Venice International Art Biennale, where themes like displacement and immigration, form and sound, and language and typography were highly prevalent throughout.
HAYP AROUND THE WORLD
Speaking of traveling…Venice wasn’t the only destination on HAYP’s list this year. Being in the art industry, it’s necessary to not only explore the art easily accessible to you, but to make sure you are staying current on the events of the global art market. In order for HAYP to remain relevant, we must stay active in the international art world, and sometimes that means getting outside of the Yerevan bubble in order to bring new information and fresh ideas back. Networking with international artists can create new contacts for local artists in Armenia, and giving them more opportunities is something HAYP is dedicated to doing.
While in Italy, we made a quick stop in Florence where our biennale duo, Gayane Yerkanyan and Aram Atamian, did an improvisational performance with live wall painting and poetic recitation. (Read more here)
After her visit to Venice, our curator, Anna, joined fellow curators Nazareth Karoyan (Institute of Contemporary Art), Vigen Galstyan (Lusadaran) and Sona Stepanyan (Armenia Art Foundation) as well colleagues from Iran, Ali Bakhtiari (TMOCA), Samira Hashemi (VA Artist residency), Sohrab Kashani (Pejman Foundation), and Leyla Fakhr (Tate Modern) on a cultural trip to The Netherlands and Belgium organized by the Mondriaan Foundation and the Flanders Art Institute in order to create partnerships with Armenia and Iran for future collaborations.
HAYP Co-Founders, Anna and Charlotte, also recently made a trip to the Emirates for the opening of the LOUVRE-Abu Dhabi. During their stay, they made a visit to NYU’s Akkasah Photography Foundation where they exchanged ideas with the director of WAREHOUSE 424 contemporary art space.
NEW YEAR, BIGGER HAYP
You best be sure that next year’s HAYP plans are bigger and better than ever before. We have more projects on the horizon that will be a bit different than what we’ve been used to, but equally thoughtful, fun and engaging. Here’s to another year of HAYP!
This year’s many projects came through in no small part thanks to the trust that our partners and sponsors put in, and the dedication of our volunteers and friends (who help us with translations, writing, cleaning, carrying artworks… you name it). Here we would like to extend a particularly warm thank you to our Birthright volunteer Dalita Khoury, who joined us in the midst of the CETI Lab craziness and handled everything beautifully, from organizing transportation to remote exhibit locations, to relentlessly scouting dusty spaces throughout Yerevan, researching and writing. We couldn’t have done it without you! Now….. here’s to 2018!