“Tbilisi” Impressions by Laure Raffy

Photos and text by Laure Raffy
Translation by Anna Gargarian

Original text in French language below English text.


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A four day trip for the HAYP Pop Up team to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Objective: to feel the city’s pulse and feed our plans to establish a permanent gallery space in Yerevan in the upcoming months. An opportunity to meet key players and to weave the initial threads of partnership with a neighboring country, as we begin to envision future collaborations.

Ambling through a city full of stories, historic buildings, and wonders to discover veiled behind urban facades, we take in (on the fly) inspiration, ideas, and lots of images.

A meeting with Tamara Janashia leads us to many others: gallerists, printers, artists.
The Nectar Gallery, perched on a small hill, reveals the colossal work of Elene Chantladze that combines writing, drawing, collage, and painting on stone; a lifetime’s work that offers a narrative about intimate space and important moments.

Time to catch our breath and grab a coffee on the terrace of Stamba Hotel, former printing house renovated into hotel complex. An industrial space that highlights the gears and mechanisms of the machines it once housed. It is here that we meet Irina Popiashvili before she invites us to a private space where she collects the works of several artists; a creative incubator where she nurtures artists with a graceful rigor. She brings us to the department of Visual Art, Architecture and Design at the Free University of Tbilisi, where Irina is the Dean. A precious moment that invites us into discover creative studios, filled with ideas and treasures in the making. The chance to meet students, inspired and inspiring, impressive in their tenacity and strength, confronting materials as massive and rigid as wood and steel .. We (re)encounter some of them on Saturday night in an apartment atop the city’s outskirts; an intimate space that is home to an exhibition curated by the students themselves.

On this short trip we have the privilege of meeting artist Tamuna Chabashvili, who mainly uses textile as “final object” in an engaging work that brings together tedious research, investigation, and careful collecting of stories. Along the way, we discover the underground Patara art gallery, which urges us to explore the border between private and public space, and the importance of introducing art within the lived urban environment. A visit to the Window Project gallery reveals bold scenographic display, an intervention by a contemporary artist/designer that took inspiration from the exhibition’s focus: the art works of the late Vakhtang Kokiashvi.

Planning to develop a future print department, HAYP can’t miss out on a visit to Cezanne printing house, highly recommended for the quality of its catalogs and artist books. An encounter that revealed (or confirmed) the vast range of possibilities for book formats, textures, and binding methods … revealing, yet again, that the book serves as both archive and extension of an art work, an artifact in its own right.

Four days of meetings, a perpetual dialogue between the historic and contemporary, industrial and artisanal, massive and undeniably refined. Sprinkled with impressions, scribbled papers, porcelains, and found objects along the unbeaten path.

And so, more to come….


original text:

Déplacement de l’équipe de HAYP Pop Up dans la capitale Georgienne, Tbilisi. Ce, afin d’en prendre le poul et alimenter encore le projet de galerie physique et permanente qui prendra place à Yerevan, dans les prochains mois. L’occasion de rencontrer des acteurs, tisser une première toile de partenaires dans un pays voisin et imaginer de possibles collaborations.

Un détour dans une ville emplie d’histoire(s), d’édifices historiques, de merveilles à découvrir au verso des façades. Un moment permettant d’attraper en vol, inspirations, idées, et beaucoup d’images.

Une rencontre avec Tamara Janashia nous mène vers bien d’autres : galeristes, imprimeurs, artistes. La Galerie Nectar perchée sur une petite colline dévoile le travail colossal d’ Elene Chantladze, mêlant écriture, dessins, collages, peintures sur roches. Oeuvre d’une vie proposant une lecture de l’espace intime et de certains faits marquants. Le temps de reprendre son souffle et commander un café sur la terrasse du Stamba Hotel, ancienne imprimerie réhabilitée en complexe hôtelier. Un espace industriel où sont aujourd’hui sublimés, les rouages et mécaniques des anciennes machines.
C’est ici que l’on rencontre Irina Popiashvili avant qu’elle nous conduise dans un espace où elle conserve plusieurs travaux d’artistes. Une pépinière de créateurs qu’elle soutient avec force et velour. Cette visite nous mène à l’école d’Arts visuels et d’architecture dont Irina est la doyenne. Moment précieux nous permettant de découvrir quelques ateliers emplis d’idées et de trésors en devenir. L’occasion de rencontrer des étudiants, inspirés et inspirants, impressionnants par leur tenacité et leur force, faisant face, à des matériaux aussi massifs et rigides que le bois et l’acier.. On en (re)découvre certains d’entre-eux, le samedi soir, dans cet appartement, planté sur les hauteur de la ville. Espace intimiste, abritant une exposition commissariée par les étudiants eux même.
S’offre durant ces quelques jours, le privilège de rencontrer l’artiste Tamuna Chabashvili, qui utilise principalement le textile comme « objet final » d’un travail engagé, fastidieux de recherches, d’enquêtes, de collecte d’histoires. Sur notre passage, on découvre l’espace galerie souterrain Patara qui nous interroge encore sur la lisière entre espace privé et public et l’intérêt d’introduire l’art où les individus circulent. Nous visitions la galerie Window Project mêlant des choix scénographiques audacieux et l’intervention d’artistes/designers sur les œuvres d’un créateur initial, aujourd’hui disparu, Vakhtang Kokiashvi.

Dans son souhait de développer un volet « publication », HAYP se doit un passage à l’imprimerie Cezanne, recommandée pour la qualité d’impression de catalogues et livres d’artistes. Un moment révélant (ou confirmant) le large panel de possibilités en termes de format, texture, mode de reliure… Une visite révélant de nouveau que si le livre peut accompagner l’oeuvre, il peut aussi se penser comme « objet d’art », à part entière.

4 jours et un mélange de rencontres, un perpétuel dialogue entre historique et contemporain, industriel et artisanal, massif et indéniablement fin. Parsemés de notes, de papiers griffonnés, de porcelaines, d’objet chinés au fil des marches.

A suivre, donc.

“In exchange for” by artist Lea Fröhlicher

Lea Fröhlicher is an artist, art educator and film-maker. Her work increasingly deals with subjects like modes of acting, mannerisms, phenomenas of daily routines, unofficial knowledge. Relations to people and between them influence her projects, which are process oriented and often span over a long period of time. Lea is from Bern, Switzerland, and is currently based in Solothurn (CH). The below text is a reflection on “In exchange for” an action and installation that took place within the framework of HAYP 12 12 12 RETROSPECTIVE, an exhibit that looked at the medieval caravanserai as metaphor for cultural meeting point. Themes of exchange, travel, displacement, fantasy, translation and encounters pervaded the works on view from December 12 -24, 2018 on the third floor of the Armenia Market.

Learn more about Lea and her artwork here.


text and photos by Lea Fröhlicher

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Over the course of three interactive periods, each lasting several hours, the installation “In exchange for” took place at the exhibition hall of HAYP 12-12-12. In preparation for the exhibition, visitors were invited to provide objects they own but no longer need as part of the installation. Upon offering an object, I required them to fill out a questionnaire: What is the object? Where did the object come from? Why is the object no longer needed?

The visitors could decide whether or not to provide their object in exchange for another from the ever-expanding installation. The individual components of the installation evolved with time as did the installation in its entirety, lending insight into the working process of the perpetually morphing installation. Beyond the set-up and re-setting of the installation, the interaction with the visitors themselves played an important role.

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Stories

This project was a kind of experiment for me. I was not able to judge in advance how many visitors, if any at all, would participate in “In exchange for”. I prepared a basic set-up and was curious to find out how visitors would react. Some brought along objects from their homes, so had previously planned their participation, while others dug around in their bags for an item they no longer needed.

This project allowed me to get in touch with people I previously had not met. With time, I recognised how important the stories were that I had asked for from the participants donating an object. The (anonymous) written responses gathered in the forms not only provided insight into the background of the objects’ use, but often also told a story connected to the identity of their previous owner.

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Value gained

A question I repeatedly encounter when doing a participatory project is the question surrounding the possibilities and types of sustainable participation. Amongst other things, I am interested in finding out the value gained for the project’s participants, i.e. “Who’s benefiting from this and what?” The participants of “In exchange for” had the opportunity to pass on objects from their possession. The process of passing on often allows for space, including mental space, for new things. In addition to that, there was some contemplating why one object or another was no longer needed. Furthermore, the participants were free to exchange their object with another from the installation. Through this exchange people gained an item they had selected out of interest, for example to fit their current work or living situation.

Swapping

Who doesn’t know the concept of swapping? As children, we already encounter it. “I’ll give you my blue sweetie if you give me your yellow one?” Swapping is something practical and makes you happy. People participating in “In exchange for” who exchanged their object with another did not come into direct contact with its previous owners. They were, however, able to read the object’s corresponding story. People thereby gained some insight into the history surrounding the object. Whenever someone swapped their object for another I often found out in conversation why they had picked that specific item.

For example, a caramel sweetie was swapped for a scraper-tool. The new owner was renovating her house and could make good use of it. Another paint-scraper was picked by an artist to paint with in her studio. A child chose a colourful pair of sunglasses that they had spotted as a toy. And the disposable camera gained a new owner who promptly used it for a group selfie right there in the exhibition.

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Future prospects

I had originally assumed that the installation would grow more, both in height and width…This, however, was not the case in this rather short period of time seeing as the visitors often brought in small objects. For a next variation of “In exchange for”, I would like to work on it over a longer time period and further develop the project. I would thereby bring the swapping aspect more into the fore and connect it with the stories of the objects.

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Reading fortunes and being seen

Aramazt Kalayjian is a multi-disciplinary artist from New York, currently based in Yerevan, Armenia since 2011. The below text is a reflection on “If walls could see” a collaborative project with installation by Armenuhi Yeghanyan, and durational performance by Aramazt Kalayjian. The project took place in the framework of HAYP 12 12 12 RETROSPECTIVE, an exhibit that looked at the medieval caravanserai as metaphor for cultural meeting point. Themes of exchange, travel, displacement, fantasy, translation and encounters pervaded the works on view from December 12 -24, 2018 on the third floor of the Armenia Market.


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Hayku 30.0
Coffee is Seeing
Sometimes we need the other
Here we are all one

We all want to be seen and we do it in very different ways.

I had created a set of wall-hanging sculptures featuring haiku poetry, separated into three layers of glass, 4cms apart, making a visual puzzle. It was simple and playful.

Complimenting this I performed coffee cup readings. My guest would arrive and I would prepare coffee and read their fortune.  I would write a haiku poem on an Armenian language typewriter and give them their reading to remember. 

The door opens, I have received another guest. I greet them warmly and light the gas stove. She sits before me, asking questions. She seems familiar but I do not recognise her.  “Do you remember me?” she asks. I mention a certain familiarity but that is all. “Then good, I won’t tell you anything more to see if your cup reading is authentic.”

I laugh and we drink our coffee and flip the cup. I was being tested but I had faith in the coffee grains creating their story on the white porcelain walls and in my ability to read the symbols and weave meaning.

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My mother had an abortion before I was born. She was 19 and not ready for motherhood. Then, as now, taboos surrounded her decision. She was depressed, ashamed and in reclusion before my birth. I came along, like Simba, a joy for our family and community. The first-born of the youngest child in her family.

She had not had the childhood she would have hoped for. Her father passed away when she was just three. She had taken on the role of helper of the house, cooking, cleaning and babysitting cousins. She had become a mother before she was a woman. I understood why she began to train me, and later my brothers, to be her aids around the house.  She later confessed she had always wanted a daughter.

On days off from school we were handed individual lists of chores in my mother’s handwriting or we were given extraordinarily inconvenient tasks such as reading a book aloud into a tape recorder so that there was proof of our having practiced reading that day.  My father would take the cassette and listen to us read 40 Days of Musa Dagh or Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys on his commute to work. This was his way to make us present in his life. He could listen to our voice despite his absence from home.

It is here that I learned to cook and clean and learn and evolve. It wasn’t the best nor the worst childhood; there was love and anguish; there was appreciation and neglect; guilt and innocence; polarity also revealed duality.

The very first thing I learned from my mother was to make coffee. And this was a profound desire of mine.

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Observing the family gatherings of my youth, the ceremonial aspect of receiving coffee at the end of a meal or an evening was divine. The first sips were spiritual ecstasy when the coffee was good.  When it wasn’t there was criticism sprinkled in with gossip and conversation. It became a challenge I wanted my skills to meet.

Cups of coffee. Something human and universal being shared. First dates and breakups. Beginnings, interviews, being fired or laid-off. All can start with a cup of coffee and often do. Friends gather over coffee, families end gatherings with it. You can drink it before and after sex and at any other time!

Coffee is said to have been discovered by shepherds in the village of Kaffa, Ethiopia. Their goats were, according to legend, exceptionally frisky and energetic after eating the seed and flesh of the coffee fruit. It was considered to have magical or spiritual qualities and in Ethiopian culture today the coffee ceremony remains a staple in welcoming guests. Upon a bed of grass, several people gather around a clay pot and coals while the coffee beans are roasted on a pan over a naked fire. Frankincense is burnt. The coffee seed is roasted until the beans are browned and crushed by a mortar and pestle and then poured into the Jebenna, the aforementioned thin-necked clay pot Ethiopians use for coffee ceremonies.

Since then, the bean has been cultivated in a variety of different ways and its export from Ethiopia to the Ottoman Empire popularized the drink as a commodity and a pastime. As the grinds became more refined, so too did the tastes and methods of preparation. Mixes with milk and sugar, sometimes with tea or honey. The culture of coffee was born and it was widespread by the late 19th century.

We, humans, have sought meaning in patterns since the early cave paintings depicting man and nature. Cloud gazing, I-Ching coins, tea leaves, all offer a canvas from which patterns and meaning have been cultivated for centuries. Coffee grounds, naturally, offer this too.

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I learnt how to read a cup from my mother and uncle. The reading always took place at the very end of a meeting or a gathering in our home. My mother read the cups as if to offer relief from worry emphasizing the positive and reminding the listener to be more aware of opportunities and others. My uncle, however, approached the matter as if reading tarot cards. His own interest in spirituality gave him a foundation to both see and to connect with the person before him when reading the coffee cup.

Having witnessed this throughout my childhood, I sensed that there was magic in the cup. Here was a way to truly connect with the love and attention channelled into it. It seemed like people felt they were being seen for who they truly were.

We trust the foreigner. We trust the neutral, non-attached person that is disconnected from our lives. People seek this possibility and coffee cups offer it.

I wanted to create this experience a long time ago and the caravanserai with HAYP offered the perfect opportunity, in the land of open doors and tinted windows.

The response at the exhibition was completely unexpected. I had imagined sitting in a room and having maybe one or two people arrive for coffee.  Instead, the demand was great. Perhaps people have an inherent desire to sit and be heard. There is a comparison with Catholic confession, with the priest and the sinner.  In our case the roles are perhaps more nebulous, beyond reader and listener.

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What was most astounding was how readily people shared openly, with the cup between us. I was asked if I could see people looking negatively on them and their life. One woman described an emotional affair with another man and asked if that was worse than a physical affair.  Someone else told me their entire story, from youth to marriage, and how her husband had became a brutal person, triggering a suicide attempt. All of this to me! I am no one. A man that made cups of coffee, a man that told stories as a way to see and be seen.

I was surprised by the variety of people that came along. Two women working in the wig store below the exhibition space arrived one by one. The quirky owner of the building with his right-hand man, seeking advice based on his profound belief in fortunes. An elder, an adult, and one of our youth, arrived at one point representing three generations of women. Artists, designers, performers, dancers, architects, musicians, writers, hopefuls, seekers, lovers of life, ordinary folk, all lined up for a free cup and a fortune, written in short form, as a memento.

I felt a deep responsibility. To remain as neutral as possible when sitting in front of another. To try to be totally absent of ego and present in the moment while interpreting the grains and the patterns, however subtle or bold. I did not want to color the story with my own and instead took symbols from the cup, interpreting meaning, somehow, to reveal simple truths.

I was left feeling exhausted and full of gratitude.  


written by Aramazt Kalayjian
edited by Raffi Ouzounian
photography by Ed Tadevossian
video by Karén Khachaturov

“Where is Home?”

by Laure Raffy

Laure Raffy is an art educator, writer and maker. Below, Laure reflects on “Where is Home?”, a performative workshop lead by Sonya Armaghanyan (EVN Community Theatre) combining elements from theatre and dance movement to explore the notion of home and the sense of belonging. The workshop took place at HAYP Pop Up Gallery on December 21, 2018 in the context of HAYP 12 12 12 – RETROSPECTIVE.

For original text in French language scroll down.

Download in pdf format (English & French Language): Where Is Home?_Laure_Raffy


“Where is home?”

A memory.

My body lying on a white sheet in Marseille a few days before my departure.
A moment gazing at the Iranian mountains, unreal and yet so close.
Two faces of children, sprawled on a bed, catching the ceiling of the apartment in a burst of laughter.
An old lady offering us flowers.
And this question keeps coming back, guiding my choices, I lose myself along the way, often.

On December 21, the artist Sonya Armaghanyan pushed us into our deepest corners in an experience that was both collective and introspective. In a hybrid format: discussion group, dance workshop, performance.
No objective to come up with answers, just to think and (re)feel.
Together and individually.
And this question that appeared from the very beginning: “Where is home? “
In a circle, the ideas of a dozen people intersect, meet, and sometimes join.
“A balance”, “a warm place”, “where I grew up”, “our house on the oceanfront”.
Some answers are precise, others more abstract and distant.
First contact, first words. Then, instructions and silence.

Groups of 3 or 4 people are formed. Each person reflects on the memory she wants to carve out.
In a space partially filled with music, the bodies meet and become familiar with one another. Eyes meet, and glances are exchanged. Each person sculpts their partner, stages an image, a memory becomes abstract or distinct.
The given form meets or sometimes departs from the mental image. Scenes are linked in fluid movement. They change as we progress. Forms are substituted, merged, to become new ones.
An unspoken communication takes root at the heart of each group, which is lost, forgotten in the game turned dance.
Sonya encourages some individuals to detach themselves, to join neighbouring groups, to establish new connections, to seek more space, to exist otherwise, before finding their initial group again.

The choreography ends, we make a circle and discuss.
A common reflection on the meaning of exile, departure, loss, amnesia. At ease, open, marking the beginning or the next step of the process.


 

« Where is home? »

Se souvenir.

Mon corps allongé sur un drap blanc, à Marseille quelques jours avant mon départ.
Un moment à contempler les montagnes iraniennes, irréelles et pourtant si proches.
Deux visages d’enfants, échoués sur un lit, attrapant le plafond de l’appartement dans un éclat de rire. Une vieille dame nous offrant des fleurs.
Et cette question revenant sans cesse, guidant mes choix, me perdant en chemin, souvent.

Le 21 décembre dernier, l’artiste Sonya Armaghanyan, nous poussait dans nos retranchements dans une expérience à la fois collective et introspective. Dans une forme hybride; atelier de parole, danse, performance.
Sans but d’allouer de réponse, juste penser et (re)sentir.
Ensemble et chacun.
Et cette question qui apparaît dès les premières minutes : « Where is home? »
En cercle, les idées d’une dizaine de personnes réunies, se rencontrent, se rejoignent parfois.
« Un équilibre », « un endroit chaleureux », « là où j’ai grandi », « notre maison au bord de l’océan ».
Certaines réponses sont précises, d’autres plus abstraites et distantes.
Premier contact, premiers mots. Puis, les instructions et le silence.

Les groupes de 3 ou 4 personnes sont formés. Chaque personne réfléchit au souvenir qu’elle souhaite sculpter.
Dans un espace partiellement rempli de musique, les corps se rencontrent s’apprivoisent. Les regards se croisent. Chacun sculpte ses partenaires, met en scène une image devenue abstraite ou distincte.
La forme donnée rejoint ou s’éloigne quelquefois de l’image mentale. Les pauses s’enchaînent dans un mouvement désormais fluide. Elles se modifient aussi, au fur et à mesure. Elle se substituent, se confondent, pour en devenir de nouvelles.
Une forme de communication, de lien s’installe au sein des groupes qui se perdent, s’oublient dans le jeu devenu danse.
Sonya incite certain individus à se détacher, à rejoindre les groupes voisins, à établir de nouvelles connexions, chercher un peu d’espace, exister autrement, avant de se retrouver.

La chorégraphie prend fin laissant place à un cercle de parole(s).
Une réflexion commune sur le sens de l’exil, des départs, de la perte, de l’oubli. Sereine, ouverte, marquant le début ou la suite du processus.

A walk around Oda[r]isque

by Aram Atamian

Note by the editor: Aram Atamian is the author, choreographer and performer of “Oda[r]isque”, a participatory performance and installation that took place over the course of three days, from December 20-22, 2018 at HAYP Pop Up Gallery in the context of HAYP 12 12 12 RETROSPECTIVE. 


 

0°                                                                                                               a walk around Oda[r]isque


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karen

From top: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Odalisque with Slave, 1839; Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Turkish Bath, 1852-59; Silvia Sleigh, The Turkish Bath, 1973; Oda[r]isque #1: Aramazt, 2018; Oda[r]isque #16: Mary, 2018; Oda[r]isque #18: Petros, 2018; Oda[r]isque #21: Karen, 2018.

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– – – 

“You’re coming from behind the mountain” is how my Persian-Armenian friend translated one of his favorite Armenian idioms to me. It means roughly the same thing as the English idiom “You’ve been living under a rock”, but also, he explained, implies this person-from-the-other-side has a certain wildness or is ‘unbridled’ or ‘unleashed’. The Armenian word sandsardsak came up to describe this shade of meaning in particular. During my research in preparation for Oda[r]isque, a participatory performance and installation for HAYP’s final exhibit 12-12-12, this idiom kept coming back to me. My notes in my phone remain from this conversation sometime in 2016:

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Screenshot of a smartphone note from 2016

The three dashes [- – -] indicate where you can insert your pronoun of choice, depending on who is coming from behind the mountain. As the project was coming together, I asked a friend from Yerevan if this idiom was familiar as I was considering having it be a subtitle of the project and wanted to make sure it was relevant.  She didn’t recognize it, but she suggested the word sandsardsak as an alternative to the idiom [1].

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The Program/instructions that were given to all attendees of Oda[r]isque on December 20th-22nd from 7:00-9:00pm AMT.

Welcome to

Oda[r]isque!

Thank you so much for coming! Together we’ll be hijacking classical 19th century orientalist images to playfully research  connections between geography, identity, and fantasy.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: grab whichever props immediately look appealing to you-no need to overthink.

Step 2: together we’ll collaborate on making an image. We can use the blue book [2] as inspiration or just jump right in.

Step 3: I’ll shoot our images and they will be on view here for the remainder of the exhibition for our collective reflection and enjoyment. With your permission, they will be compiled and accessible on the @odarisque Instagram account [3].

[reverse side]

The special thing about orientalism is that it is a personal fantasy about direction.  A fantasy of what is not here but over there—a line of desire that can be followed in the imagination and then, for some, by setting out on foot to follow that line. What one hopes to find over there could be an escape, it could be freedom from sexual repression, it could be a new life or even a new self. In the past this has been oriented around a myth of an East and a West, Orient and Occident [4]. What is it, though, when our fantasies of possibility are linked to home and identity instead of just the exotic? How do we use these two-directional  fantasies of ownership to conjure home and to define ourselves?

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Observations

I was initially concerned that

  1. People wouldn’t want to be photographed.
  2. People wouldn’t feel like subjects.

I found to my surprise and relief that

  1. Most people like to be photographed.
  2. Each person, it seemed to me, had such a precise point of view that the passive objects of the source paintings were entirely replaced by critical, powerful subjects.

While each collaborator more or less had a strong vision for the image they wanted to make, almost always this was realized with input from the entire audience. This happened completely naturally with no suggestion from me. I was very pleased about this because I knew the whole project would fall apart conceptually if it was my gaze and direction behind each image. I set a rule for myself to be more of an assistant and camera operator for each participant’s vision.

Each day’s mood was remarkably different. The first day was only one sided, and we essentially started with all the props on set and people more or less took away and rearranged as the shoot moved on. While the party atmosphere of the first day was most welcome, for the second day I wanted to test the double-sided set to give people that initial choice. Also, we cleared the set after each shoot so the selection of props became another defining moment. The images from the second day have a sparser, more deliberate and critical feel to me for these reasons. The third day was somehow a happy mix of both-there was a boldness and confidence to the image-making that made me wonder how this project could evolve over a longer period.

200°                                                                                                                                                     20°


The Odalisque [5]

A classic trope in 19th century Orientalist painting in which a female, typically non-Muslim, member of a haram reclines luxuriously. Usually these were painted by Western European men in their own studios embellished from scraps of fact into a speculative fantasy of a place east of them which they may never have visited. Sarah Ahmed explains:

The Orient is not an empty place; it is full, and it is full of all that which is “not Europe” or not Occidental, and which in its ”not-ness” seems to point to another way of being in the world – to a world of romance, sexuality and sensuality [6]. In a way, orientalism involves the transformation of “farness” as a spatial marker of distance into a property of people and places. “They” embody what is far away. Thus “farness” takes the direction of a wish, or even follows the line of a wish. The “far” often slides into the exotic, after all. The exotic is not only where we are not, but it is also future oriented, as a place we long for and might yet inhabit. […] This fantasy of lack, of what is “not here,” shapes the desire for what is “there,” such that “there” becomes visible on the horizon as “supplying” what is lacking […] Desire directs bodies toward its object; in desire, we face the desired and seek to get closer. Desire confirms that which we are not (the object of desire), while it pushes us toward that “not,” which appears as an object on the horizon, at the edge of our gaze, always getting closer even when it is not quite here [emphasis added.] [7]

180°                                                                                                                                                   360°


The visa stamp

“Rather than ‘eastern’ or ‘western’, Armenia was imaged as a borderland, ‘in-between’ East and West. The image of the Armenians, therefore, was characterized by ambiguity.

The Armenian population was dispersed across the borders of the Russian, Persian and Ottoman Empires, a region frequently portrayed as the boundary between civilization and barbarism or Europe and Asia. It was also perceived as a religious borderland, the meeting place of Christianity and Islam. Armenia was problematic as it seemed to straddle these borders.[8]”-Jo Laycock

This occidental/oriental fantasy seems to operate over vast expanses of land and sea and across continents. Armenians, on the other hand, experience a distinctly local fantasy of east and west all our own which hinges entirely and precisely on the geographical marker of Mt Ararat: the terms Western and Eastern Armenian are contingent on which side of the mountain, the west or the east, a particular Armenian’s family is originally from. The entry and exit visa stamps of the Republic of Armenia depict Sis and Masis, the two peaks of Ararat, though they are entirely outside of country borders. This implies you are now entering or exiting two countries at once: the Republic of Armenia and an Other [Odar] Armenia. The other being, as Ahmed put it, a ‘not-ness’ or all that is not here.

150°                                                                                                                                                   330°


The backdrop

at the center of Oda[r]ique was a woven tapestry of a screenshot I took from Google Maps of the view of the western side of Mount Ararat looking directly east to Armenia. This is the other side of the mountain, with Sis on the right and Masis on the left.

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The 2.7×1.3m tapestry was woven using a digital jacquard loom, which translates a digital image into binary code which is then read by the loom and each row of threads is set automatically and then advanced by hand. Because of this, the other side of the weaving reveals the colors which were hidden on areas of the front, creating something like a negative image. Additionally, of course, the image itself is flipped. In this case the reverse of the tapestry has Sis on the left and Masis on the right, as one sees it from the RA.

On the second and third day of Oda[r]isque, both sides of the tapestry were lit creating a double-sided set. Each subject/collaborator first had to choose which side they wished to work with, decisions could have been made based on eastern/western Armenian identity, nationality, fantasy, longing, aesthetic preference, whim, or some combination of these. Whatever the deciding factors were, once this choice became the first step of the process the images began to take on a more deliberate and critical tone as there was now an invitation to take a side and define it.

120°                                                                                                                                                   300°


Research Bibliography for Oda[r]isque:

Ahmed, Sarah. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006.
Akomfrah, John. 2013. The Stuart Hall Project. DVD. United Kingdom: Smoking Dog Films.
Boone, Joseph Allen. The Homoerotics of Orientalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.
Epstein, Mikhail. “On Transculture.” Academic Exchange 7, no. 5 (2005). http://www.emory.edu/ACAD_EXCHANGE/2005/aprmay/sidebar.html
Laycock, Jo. Imagining Armenia. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.
Muñoz, José Esteban. Disidentifications. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.
Peltre, Christine. Orientalism in Art (New York : Abbeville Press, 1998).
Razlogov, Kirill. “Parajanov in prison: an exercise in transculturalism.” Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema 12, No. 1 (2018): 37-57. https://doi.org/10.1080/17503132.2018.1422223 .
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 1979.

90°                                                                                                                                                     270°


What now

I consider the live photoshoot to be the main piece and the resulting images as a kind of glorified documentation. However, seeing the results of everyone’s extremely thoughtful and playful work I think they would function quite well on their own. I’m starting to plan a physical publication with pieces of writing accompanying each image in collaboration with the participants. Until then, the Instagram catalogue, @odarisque, is a placeholder and you’ll find any/all updates right there.

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Footnotes

  1. Another Armenian friend from Tehran confirmed that this idiom is regularly used in in the Persian-Armenian dialect.
  2. Christine Peltre, Orientalism in Art (New York : Abbeville Press, 1998).
  3. If you wish to get in touch, you can e-mail me at aramatamianstudio[at]gmail[dot]com.
  4. Which caused its fair share of problems: most orientalist imagery can be read as a biproduct and tool of colonization and imperialism. See Edward Said’s Orientalism for more on this.
  5. Famous interventions with this trope include Manet’s Olympia, where instead of imagining a sex-slave from a foreign land he appropriates the pose and composition exactly but with a sex-worker and her maid in a contemporary Parisian setting. Also of note is Sylvia Sleigh’s The Turkish Bath (1973) after the Ingres painting of the same name, which borrows certain compositional elements from the Ingres (particularly the cloning of one of the bodies) but with contemporary men in her circle including the performance artist and sculptor Scott Burton posing.
  6. sandsardsak/սանձարձակ again comes to mind.
  7. Sarah Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 114.
  8. Jo Laycock, Imagining Armenia (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), 28-29.

Thoughts by the Curator on HAYP 12 12 12

by Anna K. Gargarian

HAYP Founding Director & Curator


As we start 2019 filled with inspiration and vital energy to expand our work at HAYP Pop Up Gallery in a different format, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our last Pop Up exhibition.

Where to start?

We started planning HAYP 12 12 12 Retrospective with the full awareness and conviction that this would be our last HAYP Pop Up. Our experience, intuition and insight as a team is leading us in a new direction that I’ll get to later, and we wanted to mark this transition with a project that would be both introspective and open.

Inaugurating the show on December 12, 2018 was not arbitrary. Our very first HAYP launched on December 12 in 2014. We’ve come a long way since, not only in terms of the number of projects and collaborations, but especially in our learning. You could say we’ve developed a sort of informal methodology to pop up exhibition.

Personally I have learned tremendously, both as an individual and as a professional. From learning Armenian (of which I spoke none at the start), to learning the cultural nuances of people and work relations in Armenia. A dear friend told me before I moved to Yerevan, “You know Anna, I’ve never been to Armenia but I’m guessing it’s not too different from Jamaica, in that I suggest you learn to manage your expectations”. He was exactly right.

Reflecting back, this friendly advice in some ways underlines the core of why and how I curate. A deep interest in exploring the ways that we communicate and connect with others, and the role of perception in how we understand and relate to ideas, is at the core of all of our past HAYP Pop Up projects. HAYP Pop Up’s dynamic model allowed our curatorial team (myself and the amazing Hasmik Badoyan since 2017) to constantly disorient ourselves and our viewers, forcing us to look at things differently – with fresh eyes, and responsive expectations.

Caravanserai: from theoretical framework to reality

In celebrating four years of HAYP, it seemed fitting to embrace the “caravanserai”, or historic pitstop for nomads, as a conceptual framework for our last show. Dynamism, multiculturalism, exchange, communication, perception, and chaos came together in this “bazaar” format.

Though it’s one thing to state an exhibition theme in a catalogue or wall text, it’s another thing altogether for it to come through in the experience felt by artists and audiences. In this case, I can confidently say that HAYP 12 12 12 truly embodied the caravanserai. This was largely due to our location, which Hasmik discovered, the former marketplace on top of the Barekamutyun Metro Stop. Structurally, it evoked the architectonic layout of the typical 16th century Caravanserai, with a central social courtyard and surrounding niches. Location-wise, its position above the most frequented metro terminus highlighted the relationship between transportation, travelers, and places of refuge. But what struck me most in this project was the role of our common space, or courtyard (“hraparak” as we informally called it), in shaping a unique energy for the gallery.

The “Theatre of Ideas” really was a stage for exchange of all sorts, and the actions, encounters, and mood were in constant movement. Each performance, event, workshop and activity dramatically transformed that central space in a very real, physical, and energetic way.

The balance between dynamism and stasis is particularly important for me, and has been a concern as we model our future art space. I’ve been asking myself, “if we have a permanent structure, will we lose the freshness and dynamism of our pop up?”. HAYP 12 12 12 helped answer that question and abate this fear. I feel more confident now that we can create the feeling of transformative change within a permanent space.

The Container: Thoughts on our future

This brings me to my last reflections on space, change, and creativity in a series of thoughts that I would like to call “the Container”. I’m appropriating the term from authors Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski, and Flowers, whose book Presence explores how major innovators effect deep systematic change within organizations, societies and governments. A particular passage marked me as I think of our next steps for 2019:

“The principle of the container as transformative vessel is present in nature, too. Within the cocoon, just as within the alchemist’s container, something ‘melts’ in order to transform itself into something new. The creation of new life often requires a specialized ‘container’ because established systems are naturally hostile to the ‘other,’ the ‘outsider,’ the ‘alien’. The normal chemistry of an adult human body would be toxic to an embryo, just as the mainstream culture of an organization is often toxic to the innovators it spawns. And when the organizational immune system kicks in, innovators often find themselves ignored, ostracized, or worse.” (Presence, 2008)

This passage brings to light several key conclusions: 1) innovation produces an alien product, 2) that product is by nature in conflict with the existing system, 3) a safe space is required for “other” forms to fully flourish, otherwise they will be squashed before they have the chance to spread their wings.

These are precisely the reasons why we want to open a permanent space.

Though we thrive off the exploratory nature of nomadic projects, Hasmik and I are also hungry for a stable “container” that will provide us (curators and artists) the safety to develop ideas that are off the beaten track to their full extent, fiercely uncensored, and in total freedom.

To take the cocoon metaphor a step further, we are also deeply aware of the potential danger of the totally self-guarded vessel. Amongst the points addressed in our discussions with artists at our Theatre of Ideas at “HAYP 12 12 12 Retrospective”, was the cautionary advice to stay open to new projects, artists, and opinions, and to not become closed-in on ourselves. This is a point well-taken.

We hope to remain fully aware of our environment, and aim to challenge ourselves and continue our legacy of disruption and disorientation in order to continue cultivating fresh perspectives. And if we don’t, or if we forget, we ask upon you, our community, to remind us, challenge us, so that we can keep learning, looking, and questioning from new perspectives.

 

FUNDUK Week: At a glance

HAYP 12 12 12 Retrospective started off with a bang at opening night last Wednesday, December 12. Diverse installations animated twenty two different booths across the third floor of the Armenia Market – a former resale point that is currently used as storage. HAYP 12 12 12 is all about exploration and discovery, where more than 25 artists have created immersive experiences that evoke the feelings one might encounter while traveling.

Works like those of Arash Azadi, Ani Qananyan and Mary Moon explore urbanity through abstracted cityscapes.

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Mary Moon, installation, 2018

 

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Ani Qananyan, Untitled installation with ceramic and neon light.

 

Installations by Aramazt Kalayjian, Gorod Ustinov, and Vahram Galstyan offer the viewer opportunities for meditation and reflection using nostalgia and poetry as key elements for contemplation on our past and present.

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Aramazt Kalayjian, Installation with windows and Haikus, 2014-2018

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Vahram Galstyan, Lvacveq (լվացվեք), ceramic installation, 1999-2018

The journey continues from internal contemplation to that of fantasy and wild imagination in the installations by Narek Barseghyan, Lvis Mejia, Samvel Saghatelian and Radio EVN. Playing with light, projection, and sound, and dominated by a cool color palette, the very different yet interconnected works invite us to explore alien worlds: unknown places, beings, and meetings. Opening night featured the particularly eery run-in with Narek Barseghyan’s “monster”, a masked performer seeking human connection with an open hand (and chair).

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Performance by Narek Barseghyan, “Monsters – Rot 54”, 2018

 

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Samvel Saghatelian, “Homo Communication – The Hole”, installation and performance (2017 – 2018)

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RADIO EVN, HIGH-astan, immersive audio-visual installation, 2018

Lastly, the exhibition takes us to the square; the central meeting point (or crossroads) of the Caravanserai, which offers an opportunity to exchange – whether physical objects at Lea Frohlicher’s “In exchange for” interactive installation, or intimate moments over a cup of coffee at “If Walls Could See”, an installation by Armenuhi Yeghanyan with performance/action by Aramazt Kalayjian who will gladly read your coffee cup fortune from 16:00 – 21:00 daily. A word of caution, Aramazt is in high demand and people have been queuing up all week, so come early and with patience please!

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Aramazt Kalayajian, Performative action with coffee cups, reading, and Haikus

Other works within the Caravanserai courtyard are installations by Vardan Harutyunyan, Gayane Yerkanyan, and Sona Manukyan who propose alternate ways of seeing, perceiving, and understanding our identity. As happens at a journey’s end, we become slightly different people, shaped by our travels and those we crossed along the way. Added to the mix from December 21-23 will be “Oda[r]isque” an interactive performance by Aram Atamian exploring Armenian identity and experiences of auto-exoticization.

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Also in the square, or better known at HAYP 12 12 12 as the “Theatre of Ideas”, will be various performance, discussion, and workshops within the framework of FUNDUK Week. It kicked off on Opening Night with a contemporary dance performance by MIHR Theatre and Tiezerk Band.

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Performance by MIHR Theatre

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Performance by MIHR theatre

On Friday December 14,  we featured a live set by Radio EVN who transformed the square with an audio-visual experience called “HIGH-աստան (-astan)”. On Saturday evening, Berlin-based visiting artist Lvis Mejia performed a meditative set to an intimate audience, featuring sound samplings and field recordings from his own travels around the world.

48364211_2073204639431232_5302280965366743040_n copy.jpgAnd over the weekend, MIHR Theatre lead several groups on a sound walk entitled “A Journey to Nowhere”, which invited participants to explore the gallery space from a different perspective. Missed it? Don’t worry, there will be more sessions this weekend so don’t forget to sign up! The experience is in Armenian language.

Also happening this week:

  • “Where is Home” a performative workshop facilitated by Sonya Armaghanyan of EVN Community Theatre. More info here
  • Discussion & Presentation with Justin Grotelueschen, MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival founder and curator on “Pop Up festivals, radio & media art”
  • More Sound Walks with MIHR Theatre’s “A journey to nowhere”. More info here
  • Live silk-screening with Visual Gap Gallery
  • “The tongue stuck in my jaw”, Contemporary dance performance written, choreographed and performed by Hasmik Tangyan. More here.

It’s a lot to take in, and we don’t expect you to remember it all, but you don’t have to! Check out (and download) the full program of events here:

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#SpotLight: Aramazt Kalayjian

by Lori Kassabian

Disclaimer:

December 12, 2018 HAYP Pop Up Gallery celebrates 4 years of pop up exhibitions, performance and more with one final project – 12-12-12 – as the gallery closes one chapter and begins another. During this 4 years, we curated 12 exhibits and worked with over 80 visual and performing artists — local and international —  who explored the most unconventional liminal space that we could find.  In this blog series we are paying tribute to our artists that have been part of HAYP community and now will join us for the final celebration of our work. 

 

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INTERVIEW: “Is Armenia ready for a major art biennale?” Laure Raffy interviews curator Mazdak Faiznia of ICAE 2018

interview by Laure Raffy
photos by Ed Tadevossian, courtesy of ICAE2018 and Shaula International

On the occasion of the ICAE 2018 (International Contemporary Art Exhibition) that took place in Yerevan from September 28-October 28, the HAYP Pop Up team was able to interview curator Mazdak Faiznia, artistic director of the Faiznia Family Foundation (FFF) based in Kermanshah, Iran. The FFF encourages and promotes contemporary art creation nationally and internationally.

Original interview in Italian below.


 

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LR: Could you clarify why you chose “Soundlines” for the exhibition theme, and in particular what is its connection to Armenia?

MF: I guess first off, I’d like to address the notion of silence. Armenians have always been and continue to be, all around the world. Their culture dates back thousands of years, and they’ve contributed greatly [to culture] wherever they’ve been.

I’m Kurdish Iranian and I am aware that Armenians have played a key role in our region as bearers of innovation, cinema, photography, medicine, industry and the arts – but in silence and discretion. Geographically, Armenia is not so big, but its voice is far-reaching.

One of the ICAE ‘s goals was to create a dialogue through artistic and cultural environments in Armenia with the rest of the world. For this reason, I was looking for an element of Armenia’s contemporary history that successfully engaged in international discourse and represented the Armenian voice, and it’s not by chance that I came to the traditional Armenian flute, or “Duduk”. It’s a small instrument with a full voice. Anchored in Armenia’s history, this globally recognised symbol of Armenian identity has been able to dialogue with all forms of music, from pop to rock to electronic music and even classical music since the 1980s.

“Soundlines” is also a reference to the novel Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, which looked at how the oral tradition of Australian Aborigines created a [sonic] map of the territory.

Sound as a metaphor for artistic practice, which places at its core concepts of identity, collective and personal memory, landscape memory, mobility, and international cultural dialogue. Line as sound, as real or mental borders, and also as a formal and conceptual element; idealised maps and their relationship to the territory . This is not unlike how the sound of an Armenian Duduk might integrate itself harmoniously within an orchestra of diverse instruments from the rest of the world. I’m interested in the relationship between sound, identity and tradition.

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LR: How did you make the selection of artists and works in the program, and where did they come from? Did institutions also participate in the exhibit?

MF: The selection of artists and works was based on their relationship to the theme and character of the project, which was shaped for both the Armenian and international publics that would be present during the Francophone Summit in Yerevan. The works were loans from artist studios, the galleries that represent them, and international private Collections and Foundations. 

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LR: Do you plan to renew ICAE next year?

MF: Bringing to life ICAE2018 was arduous, from the complexity of the theme to its production… it was really a “Mission Impossible”, especially considering the scale of the project and the invited international artists. We had very little time, and the added challenge of bringing a world audience to Armenia. If it weren’t for everyone’s support and openness, especially on behalf of the artists, our international and local partners, the incredible efforts of the team and their organisation, it would have been difficult to bring to fruition and it was almost a miracle.

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But miracles aren’t always possible. And so, if a major objective [for Armenia] is to insert Yerevan and the country on the map as a cultural destination for contemporary art, this could be considered a first step. But continuity is essential, and there needs to be a long term program to generate important cultural events like biennales, triennales, and art fairs, and establish infrastructure for museums, foundations, independent and non profit spaces, artists, academies etc, that are globally connected. In order to make all of this happen, there needs to be a program with a vision, and certain synergies that enable the commitment and support on behalf of the public and private sectors. Lastly, it needs to continue – never give up- continue, continue, and continue! 

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In occasione dell’ICAE (International Exhibition of Contemporary Art) tenuto a Erevan il mese scorso, abbiamo avuto la possibilità di intervistare Mazdak Faiznia, curatore della mostra e direttore artistico della Faiznia Family Foundation in Kermanshah, Iran.

intervista da Laure Raffy

foto da Ed Tadevossian per ICAE2018, Courtesy di Shaula International


LR: Potresti specificare come mai hai scelto “Soundlines” come tema, e qual’è il legame particolare con l’Armenia?

MF: Forse la prima cosa che devo dire è proprio il silenzio. In tutti sensi, gli Armeni sono stati e sono [ancora] da per tutto il mondo. Hanno una cultura millenaria, hanno contributo tantissimo dove sono stati, ed in effetti io che sono curdo Iraniano, in Iran gli armeni hanno avuto un ruolo fondamentale nella nostra zona: sono stati i portatori d’innovazione, del cinema, della fotografia, la medicina, l’industria, la cultura e l’arte, ma con un silenzio naturale. L’Armenia geograficamente è un paese non molto grande ma ha una voce ampia.

Uno degli obiettivi di questo evento è [stato di] creare un dialogo tra atmosfera artistica e culturale in Armenia con il resto del mondo. Per cui cercavo un elemento che nella storia contemporanea di questo paese è riuscito a dialogare a livello internazionale, rappresentando la voce dell’Armenia e non per caso sono arrivato al Duduk, il flauto antico e strumento tradizionale Armeno. È uno strumento piccolo ma ha una voce ampia. Il Duduk è ben radicato nella storia ed é riconosciuto come [simbolo di] l’identità Armena in tutto il mondo, ma è riuscito a dialogare con tutte le forme della musica, dalla musica pop al rock alla musica elettronica ed anche nella musica classica soprattutto dopo gli anni 80.

Invece Soundlines evoca “La via dei canti” (The Songlines), il celebre libro di Bruce Chatwin sulla tradizione orale degli aborigeni Australiani da cui deriva una mappatura del territorio. Per cui il suono come una metafora della pratica artistica che mette al centro della sua attenzione concetti importanti come: identità, la memoria collettiva e personale, anche la memoria del paesaggio, la mobilità, ed il dialogo culturale a livello internazionale. La Linea come il Suono, come confini reali o mentali, anche come elemento formale o concettuale, cioè, le mappe ideali ed il rapporto con il territorio. In maniera analoga a quanto avviene in un’orchestra in cui il suono del Duduk Armeno, si integra perfettamente con gli altri strumenti del resto del mondo. [Mi interessa] Questo rapporto tra il suono ed il suo rapporto con l’identità e la tradizione.

LR: Come hai fatto la scelta degli artisti? Hanno partecipato anche delle istituzioni?

MF: La scelta degli artisti e le opere è stato basato sul tema [della mostra] ed il carattere del progetto che è stato creato per l’Armenia e il pubblico Armeno ed anche internazionale che visiterebbe la mostra nel periodo del Summit dei paesi Francofoni a Yerevan. Praticamente le opere provengono dallo studio degli artisti, dalle loro gallerie rappresentanti, e dalle collezioni e fondazioni privati internazionale. 

LR: Ci sarà un altro ICAE per l’anno prossimo?

MF: Per la realizzazione dell’ICAE 2018 – essendo stato un obiettivo arduo da raggiungere, a causa della complessità del tema e della produzione..è stata davvero una “Mission Impossible”, nel senso che considerata la mole del progetto e degli artisti internazionali invitati, il poco tempo [avuto] e la difficoltà di far approdare il mondo in Armenia, se non fosse stato per la disponibilità di tutti e soprattutto degli artisti, i partner internazionali e locali, e lo sforzo incredibile del team e della organizzazione, sarebbe stato difficile da realizzare, quasi quasi è stato un miracolo.

Ma non sempre si possono fare i miracoli. Per cui se l’obbiettivo da raggiungere sarebbe di inserire Yerevan e l’Armenia nella mappa come destinazione culturale per l’arte contemporanea, questo sarebbe un primo passo ma bisogna soprattutto mantenere una continuità, avere un programma di lungo termine, di creare delle rassegne importanti come Biennale, triennale, le fiere, creare le infrastrutture per i musei, le fondazioni, gli spazi indipendenti e non profit, per gli artisti, le Accademia, eccetera, e metterli in contatto a livello internazionale. Per fare tutto questo ci vuole un programma per raggiungere l’obiettivo, [e] creare sinergie per avere l’impegno e il sostegno da parte del settore pubblico e privato, ed alla fine, non mollare. Continuare, continuare e continuare.

ICAE2018 – Soundlines of Contemporary Art

Text by Laure Raffy, Photocredits by Ed Tadevossian for ICAE2018.

(original text in French below)

International Contemporary Art Exhibition 2018, “Soundlines of Contemporary Art”, is a multi-location exhibition co-curated by Mazdak Faiznia (Faiznia Family Foundation) and Marine Hakobyan (National Gallery of Armenia) for Yerevan, Armenia. The exhibition is an initiative by Shaula International. HAYP Pop Up Gallery invited artist and art-writer Laure Raffy to share her impressions of the exhibition with us.

From September 28 to October 25, we can explore the variety of contempory artworks exhibited in 7 different locations throughout Armenia’s capital. These works, which explore the theme of borders and mobility, offer us a surprising and sensitive experience.

Let’s begin wandering the space of the the Hay Art Cultural Center, in the aquatic and organic universe of the spacious entrance gallery.ICAE2018_2.jpg

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We come upon the video work by Francis Alys, The Silence of Ani, metaphor of a deserted village where the voices of people long-past are substituted by the song of birds. Close by, discover the work of Adrian Paci, Home to go, where we are confronted with a man, undeniably tenacious, carrying on his back, a roof. Experience the discomfort of And They Still Seek the Traces of Blood, an in-situ piece by Imran Qureshi. Perched on the top of a platform, we discover a multitude of sanguine creased pieces of paper, piled up in a pit. A sculptural installation, visitors are invited to participate in the crumpling of papers, which imbues me with feelings of excitement, embarrassment and disgust. 

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Imran Qureshi, And They Still Seek the Traces of Blood. Site-specific installation at HAY Art for ICAE 2018.

The Armenian Center for Contempory Experimental Art also takes part in this adventure, and offers a journey in a room imagined by Christian Boltanski: a leap into the countryside where dried grass and scattered soil diffuse the fragrance of the outdoors. Wind chimes collide in the field, forming an unstoppable symphony.

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We are absorbed by the artwork of Sonia Balassanian, Shattered. At once disturbing and fascinating, pieces of glass are reflected in each other. A blurry eye stares at us from the depth of the gallery, and blinks to a rhythmic, mechanical pulse. An apocalyptic landscape in the intimacy of a dark room. Curiosity encourages me to discover the other 5 locations of the ICAE and continue this journey.

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Sonia Balassanian, Shattered. site-specific installation at the ACCEA for the ICAE 2018.

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ICAE 2018

Du 28 septembre au 25 octobre 2018, on découvre une palette d’ oeuvres contemporaines installées dans 7 espaces dédiés de la capitale. Ces œuvres, qui explorent la thématique de la frontière, de la mobilité, nous proposent de vivre une expérience sensible alors libre à chacun de se laisser surprendre. 

Partons flâner au centre culturel Hay Art, dans l’univers aquatique et organique que compose l’ensemble des pièces de la première salle. Visionnons la vidéo de Francis Alys, The Silence of Ani réalisée en 2015, métaphore d’un espace déserté où la voix des hommes se substitue au chant des oiseaux. Découvrons le travail d’Adrian Paci Home to go, dans un face à face avec un homme indéniablement tenace, transportant sur son dos, un toit. Apprivoisons l’inconfort au travers de And They Still Seek Traces of Blood, oeuvre in-situ de Imran Qureshi. Perché en haut d’une plateforme, on assiste au déferlement de papiers ensanglantés qui s’entassent dans la fosse. Une installation sculpturale à laquelle on participe, partagé entre amusement, gêne et dégoût. 

Le Centre arménien pour l’art expérimental contemporain aussi prend part à l’aventure et il nous offre un voyage dans une pièce de Christian Boltanski. Une parenthèse à la campagne où l’herbe séchée jonche le sol diffusant sur son passage, le parfum des grands espaces. Les carillons s’entrechoquent dans une installation, dans une symphonie ou cacophonie, à vous de décider. On se laisse absorber par l’installation de Sonia Balassanian, Shattered, inquiétante et fascinante à la fois ou des morceaux de verres se reflètent les uns dans autres. Un œil flou, brumeux nous fixe dans un rythme régulier, presque mécanique. Un paysage apocalyptique dans l’intimité d’une pièce obscure. De quoi attiser notre curiosité et poursuivre la découverte des 5 autre lieux