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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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.

270°                                                                                                                                                     90°


– – – 

“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]

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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.

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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.

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.

HAYP Pop Up’s Guide to the Armenia Art Fair: Practical tips & Info

After several weeks of (peaceful) protests, blocked roads, and halted infrastructure that left us all wondering whether indeed the Armenia Art Fair was going to happen, we are excited to be a part of its much anticipated launch this weekend at the Yerevan Expo center from May 11-13.

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While Armenia has a legacy of international contemporary art exhibitions – from the reputed Gyumri Art Biennale (from 1998 to 2012), to on-going projects at Armenia’s Center for Experimental Art (locally referred to as “NPAK” under its Armenian acronym), to last year’s 2017 STANDART Triennial of Contemporary Art- this marks Armenia’s first international commercial art fair. Although HAYP Pop Up Gallery is not your standard gallery (we operate as an N.G.O. with community projects versus an LLC), part of our mission is to stimulate and uplift the local contemporary art scene, and we believe that this is a significant step towards laying the groundwork for a much-needed Art Market in Armenia.

As a pop up gallery that lives on the margins of cultural institutions, comercial galleries, and the public and private space, together with the Armenia Art Fair organizing team, we decided to participate through a collateral project within the grounds of the Expo in an unused space at the Mergelian Institute (across from the Expo Center). But more about our project later, first, let’s take a look at what to expect at this year’s Armenia Art Fair, and some useful tips on how to get there, how to avoid “museum fatigue”, and where to eat.

Who and what is at the Art Fair?

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The main motor behind the Art Fair is a team of four, including Founding Director Nina Festekjian, Co-founding Director Zara Ouzounian-Halpin, Curator Eva Khachatrian, and Communications Lead Sarah Watterson. An extended team of graphic designers, and program and exhibitions coordinators are also part of the magic.

Exhibitors include galleries, curatorial projects, and independent contemporary artists, mostly from Armenia but also from the UK, Belarus, the UAE, and Russia. As the first edition of an Art Fair in a country that, let’s face it, doesn’t have an art market (1), perhaps the most interesting component to the project is the Open Space section, the concept child of Eva Khatchatrian.

“This section is what pulled me to the Art Fair, my background is in experimental curatorial projects more than commercial galleries,” Eva told us. “The idea is to show a diverse face of Armenian contemporary art by including artists who were active in the 90s as well as emerging artists. The Open Space will create a dialogue between the two”.

Though the Art Fair’s program of events is not extensive, we are expecting some interesting content.

The Program:

Friday, May 11:
7pm Private Viewing (by invitation only)
8:30pm Performance: by Swiss artist Christian Zehnder in the framework of the Aré Performance Festival  

Saturday, May 12:
2pm Public opening
6-7pm “Transliterative Tease”: a Performance Lecture by “Slavs and Tatars”
8pm HAYP Pop Up Gallery: Opening of “Narek Barseghyan: The Leather Show”, an exhibition and fashion performance

Sunday, May 13:
6-8pm Night Owl Round Table Discussion and Q&A
Topic: “Shifting Perspectives on Art from Local to Global: The Contemporary Image Maker”
Speakers: A discussion with curators and critics Susanna Gyulamiryan (ACSL), Nazareth Karoyan (ICA), and visiting curator and writer George Schoellhammer. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Randall Rhodes (AUA).

What we’re excited about (besides our own opening, of course)

“Transliterative Tease” by “Slavs and Tatars”. Slavs and Tatars is an artist collective whose main activities include exhibitions, performance-lectures, and books. They define themselves as Eurasian, somewhere between “East of the Berlin wall and West of the Great Wall of China”. Common themes in their work concern semantics, cultural transliteration (in their words, “the younger, trashier sibling to translation”), and issues of identity politics and appropriation (of sounds, language, meaning). We won’t go too much into the details of their performance work in order to save you the treat on Saturday evening, but their use of subtle humour to slowly reel the viewer into an absurd world is seductive and hilarious.

Our Recommendation: How to spend your Saturday

Take into consideration your capacity to look at art when planning your visit, i.e. how long can you be in an exhibition space before you get museum fatigue (you know what we’re talking about, right?). If you want to make a day of it and skip the crowds, then we recommend coming right at the Art Fair opening around 2pm. This will give you plenty of time to visit the Art Fair at the Expo Center, including the galleries and Open Space, and break for a late lunch (early dinner) before attending the evening events from 6-9pm. Alternatively, if you want a half-day of events, consider coming around 4pm, which gives you about 2 hours to visit the Art Fair and maybe grab a coffee in the courtyard.

Don’t miss the 6pm Performance Lecture by “Slavs and Tatars”, before heading over at 7:30-8-ish to the other side of the courtyard to HAYP Pop Up Gallery. On the 7th floor of Mergelian Institute’s central building, HAYP has temporarily transformed an unfinished space into a gallery for a more alternative, “street”, fashion-meets-art project: “Narek Barseghyan: The Leather Show”. The Leather Show is a solo exhibit of some truly amazing works on canvas by emerging artist Narek Barseghyan, and a fashion-performance starting at 8pm of the Leather Show Collection produced during our 10 day fashion workshop where designers Narek Jhangiryan, Tatev Khachatryan, and Sarko Meené collaborated with our visual artist to create a unique 90s inspired high-low collection. Performance, live set, and light beverages will be served. Not to be missed! NOTE: Because our event starts after working hours for the Mergelian Institute, security requires you to sign-up on our Event-brite for a FREE ticket and registration (sign-up here)! Please don’t forget, bring your printed ticket, or just show the image on your phone at the entrance. If you have a printed invitation then you’re all set.

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Where is the Expo and how do I get there?

The Yerevan Expo is a recently built exhibition center (2014) located within the courtyard of the Mergelian Institute Complex. The Institute was originally built in 1956 and operated as Yerevan’s Computer Research and Development Institute. The institute was famous for housing the first ever computer, and while it no longer functions on the cutting-edge of computer technology, it is still an active Tech Cluster housing multiple office spaces and start-up organizations.

Fun Art Fact: Check out Armenian modernist Yervand Kochar’s “Muse of Cybernetics” from 1972, a copper sculpture dedicated to the institute that has lived in the courtyard since 1973.

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Yervand Kochar, Cybernetic Muse. Photo credits: pinterest

Getting there by Taxi:

Tell your taxi driver you’re going to the “Mergelian Institute”, most drivers know the institute, but are not aware of the Expo Center since it’s still pretty new. You can always give the exact address: 3 Hakob Hakobyan street.

Getting there by Metro:

The Mergelian Institute is a 5 minute walk from the Barekamutyun Metro Station (Friends Station). Barekamutyun is the last stop on the metro line after the Baghramyan stop. When you leave the metro platform, the escalators take you to an underground market where you can find just about anything (from cheap shoes, to funky eyewear and even popcorn, shawarma and horrible wigs). It’s a circular market located under a main intersection, which means there are several exits which can be confusing if you’re not familiar with this stop. Make sure to exit at the H. HAKOBYAN STREET (Հ. ՀԱԿՈԲՅԱՆ) exit. Word of caution, the exits are listed in Armenian language only. From there, walk up Hakobyan street about 3 blocks until you get to the Mergelian Institute on the left hand side of the street. You can’t miss it, it’s the tallest building on the block. HAYP Pop Up Gallery is located on the 7th floor of this building from May 12-22. It looks like this:

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Mergelian Institute, 3 Hakob Hakobyan Street.

To get to the Expo Center, walk through the main doors of the Central Mergelian Institute Building, cross the courtyard (where you’ll see a pool, randomly) and enter the Expo Pavilion. The Expo Center looks like this:

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Yerevan Expo Center in the courtyard of the Mergelian Institute

Here’s a map to clear things up!

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Where to eat?

The Expo Center has a small cafe near the main entrance, as well as a little hidden coffee stand in the courtyard garden, and a buffet-style lunch spot called Art Lunch near the main entrance of the Mergelian Institute. The food is good, cheap, and they have wifi, but it gets crowded at lunchtime in particular during office hours. If you want some real eats nearby, about a 5-10 minute walking distance from the Mergelian Complex, we have two main recommendations. Neither of them are “luxurious” in terms of interiors, but the food is consistently good and you can eat it there or get it “to-go” (տանելու “tan-eh-loo”, in Armenian).

Tasty Syrian Food at Jaco’s:

38 Gulbenkyan Street
https://goo.gl/maps/fa195pPndGG2

Jaco’s has a strange design layout, but plenty of seating both inside and outside on their terrace. The menu is a typical middle eastern menu with an assortment of Mediterranean appetizers (hummus, mutabal, tabulé, etc.) as well as tasty main dishes from skewered barbecue meats (Shish Tawuk and Kebabs) to stewed vegetables and more. They also have an extensive Hookah (or Nargile) menu, which can be a bother if you’re not into that and would like to eat in a non-smokey environment. Having said that, most restaurants in Armenia are smoking… a good solution to this problem is a table outside at their terrace.

Homemade Local Food at “Arevelyan (Eastern) Cuisine”:

16 Komitas Avenue
https://goo.gl/maps/2iKUtqAGeam

Arevelyan has an extensive menu of local dishes, from typical Eastern Armenian salads and soups (with sorrel or yogurt), to various meat dishes. If you want something quick, their savory pastries are good. Their “Khatchapouri” (or Eastern cheese-stuffed “boreg”) is simple but tasty.

That’s all we have for you today!

Join us this weekend, May 11-13, at the Armenia Art Fair, and make sure you get your tickets to HAYP Pop Up Gallery presents, “Narek Barseghyan: The Leather Show” on eventbrite here. 

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FOOTNOTES:

(1) We are speaking from experience when it comes to the local art market, but don’t just take it from us, UNESCO’s recent research shows that among the various cultural sectors in Armenia, the visual arts contributes only .2% of the national GDP, placing sixth most lucrative after 1) Audio-visual and interactive media, 2) Art Performances & Celebrations, 3) Literature, 4) Design, and 5) Natural Heritage (in order of GDP contribution). We have a long-way ahead towards paving the wave to healthy art market, let’s get to work!

 

 

HAYP #StudioVisit: Narek Barseghyan

Hasmik Badoyan

Photo credits: Katya Golotvina

Disclaimer:

HAYP has been inviting artists to be part of our pop-up exhibits for over three years. During this time, we curated 11 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 2018, HAYP is turning an inward eye from the public space to the personal creative space of artists through a special blog series #StudioVisit. A HAYP envoy will meet with our beloved artists at their natural habitat for a studio visit, talk and coffee, in order to ask existential questions and see art in its nascent stage…

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2017: A YEAR OF HAYP

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.

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