Venice Biennale 2017

NOR-DADA: The Grammar of Deconstruction

13 May – 26 November, 2017

A site-specific installation by artist Gayane Yerkanyan for Personal structures: No Borders, an international exhibition at the European Cultural Centre at Palazzo Mora in the context of the 57th Venice International Art Biennale. 

  • For exhibition text and images, scroll down
  • For information on performance by Aram Atamian, see here
  • For opening night images, see here


About the Exhibit

As Personal Structures: Time, Space, Existencequestions the role of creative and cultural thinking in todays time and place, NOR-DADA presents deconstruction as a fundamental process for investigation. This multi-media installation features video and typographic works by artist Gayane Yerkanyan augmented with virtual reality in order to explore form within different spacial contexts.

The exhibition title has a double meaning where norphonetically translates to new(նոր) in Armenian, while reading as a negating function word in English. As a new/notform of Dada, the installation embraces deconstructivist thought to disrupt established structures while offering new applications for the contemporary context. 

Gayane Yerkanyan represents Armenian typography and its permutations as a metaphor for the individual in an increasingly globalized world. She draws parallels between the decontextualized letter and the displaced individual, where new contexts provide new opportunities for interpretation. Her process is obsessive: working within strict limitations of form and color to create infinite variations and errorsas she calls them. Like the sequence of letters forming our genetic code, one small alteration can translate to new forms of life.

In its mutant form, the deconstructed letter is freed from the limitations of its function as a tool for communication. For the Armenian-iliterate audience, this feeling is accentuated as barriers of translation become doorways to aesthetic formal exploration. For the Armenian reader, the distortions can be perceived as a Dadaist assault, of sorts, a dismantling of traditional and even sacred cultural assumptions. For Gayane, the process is a form of reverence reflecting a deep desire to redefine Armenian modernity. Gayanes typography embodies the unique-universal, a tendency we see worldwide as a reaction to globalization: an attempt to cultivate and re-evaluate local realities in order to make them relevant in a global context.

Through the incorporation of augmented reality, that is the revealing of virtual animation upon scanning Gayanes graphics with a smart device, we introduce the absurd Dadaist machine,where today’s information technology substitutes the iron gears of the early 20th century. How has IT changed the artists craft, lifestyle, and the viewers experience of the visual world? The absurdity lies in questions of accessibility. The augmented reality experience predicates a smart device, but how long of a life span does this reality have? NOR-DADAs tech component is self-aware, understanding that technology is short-lived, as new innovations render former solutions irrelevant.