A Collective Exhibit
November 18-28, 2016
148 Shahumyan St, Gyumri
A collective exhibition examining the book as medium: as an art form (creative process), as an objet d’art (one of a kind sculptural piece), and as a vehicle for story sharing and making.
About the Exhibit:
In New Illuminations we examine the book as medium: as an art form (creative process), as an objet d’art (one of a kind sculptural piece), and as a vehicle for story sharing and making. The exhibition title, “New Illuminations” is a play on words that refers to the golden ornament of traditional illuminated manuscripts, while also shedding light on narratives by women artists. The works exhibited contain very different storylines, but each explores manuscripts and cultural preservation from a unique perspective.
At the gallery entrance, quotes by late 19th century Armenian women novelists Srpuhi Dyussap and Zabel Yesayan, illustrate a history of struggle for women to make their voices heard and valued. A struggle which is echoed in the interviews artist Suzi Banks Baum conducted with over twenty five women artists in Gyumri in March and November of 2016. The books on display are the result of a four-day workshop that Suzi led with fifteen women artists in order to revive a dying tradition, and explore new tools for creative practice.
In the last two gallery rooms, works by artists Dana Walrath (US), Marsha Nouritza Odabashian (US) and Nairi Khatchadourian (FR) aim to provide a global context for the exhibit, while also showing the diversity of the book arts. Dana’s collage series incorporates manuscript motifs, drawings, and bits of a Soviet era atlas to comment on Armenian identity and the fetishization of borders. Marsha’s work distorts the flora and fauna of manuscript ornament to create fantastical surrealist landscapes. In Nairi’s lullaby series, the artist takes inspiration from Armenian prayer scrolls (Hmayils) and Japanese Kakemono scrolls, to explore visual representations of poetry. Her use of delicate materials underlines the mutable and sometimes fleeting nature of song, and what that implies for the histories it transmits.
Anna K. Gargarian
Curator, HAYP Pop Up Gallery
“As an art historian, with a specialization in Armenian illuminated manuscripts of the medieval and early modern period, I was thrilled and curious to hear of New Illuminations and the process by which the exhibition came to be. The history of Armenian book production is long—the parameters of which are well established: largely monastic production, from the birth of our alphabet in the fifth century through the nineteenth century, in both Historic Armenia and nodes of the Diaspora. I have dedicated my research to this rich and fascinating history, and have had many opportunities to explore collections of Armenian manuscripts both at home and abroad. This history, however, makes no mention of female artists, or extends into the postmodern era. New Illuminations is not only an extension of the chronology of Armenian book arts into the twenty-first century and a return to the collaborative nature of traditional Armenian book production, but as a whole, the project takes a giant step in carving out a space for women and evolves the practice of bookmaking in Armenia. I was not only struck by the work of the women, which was both beautiful and demonstrated great technical skill, but was impressed by the display and design of the exhibition—ingeniously curated—echoing the sacred and intimate nature of the works as the exhibition unfolded room by room. Honored to have been able to contextualize the exhibition by sharing my research, I am incredibly thankful to the organizers for their warm invitation to discover New Illuminations as a formative, multifaceted exhibition. This bold surge of creative production will be written into the history of manuscripts as a critical moment for female artists and creators in Armenia.”
– Erin Piñon. Art Historian/Armenologist. January 17,2017. Yerevan, Armenia
Fri, Nov 18, 19:00 Opening Event with music by Bet Williams.
Sat, Nov 19, 16:00 “Meet Mr. Frunzik before his birth”. Presentation by novelist Viken Berberian about his upcoming Graphic Novel, The Structure is Rotten, Comrade.
Sat, Nov 19, 19:00 Dance performance by Marianna Poghosyan at the Nareg Charitable Foundation. 83 Ghorghanyan Street, Gyumri.