Monday, September 13, 2010
Recently I attended the Summer Seminars for Art Curators, which is hosted annually by AICA-Armenia. We spent three days in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, and a further four days in Ijevan, in the north near the border with Azerbaijan and Georgia. The themes of the two seminar events were “Aesthetic Communities and Contextual Translation of Communal Art” and “The Communal Function of a Monument”.
Armenia is a fascinating country, but I will not go into too much in detail about it here (I intend to post thoughts about Yerevan in particular on the Spacing Wire shortly). However, it must be said that the post-Soviet-ness of Yerevan is striking, and the beauty of the countryside is extraordinary. It was wonderful to get to see both Yerevan and Ijevan, and all the landscape and important points of interest in between. You can see my photos from the seminars and general sight-seeing on Flickr.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Communities and Contextual Translation of Communal Art
August 15-20, 2010
Participants: Elke Krasny/Armenak Grigoryan/Michelle Kasprzak/Karin Grigoryan/Sarah Rifky/Arevik Grigoryan/Patrycja Rylko/Marlène Perronet/Harutyun Alpetyan/Adnan Yildiz/Aykan Safoğlu/Carmen De Michele/Gor Engoyan/Nvard Yerkanian/Natuka Vatsadze/Liana Khachatryan/Viviana Checchia/Sona Melik-Karamyan/Ida Hirsenfelder/
Volunteers and free participants: Marine Hovsepyan/Shoair Mavlian/Özge Çelikaslan/ Tigran Grigoryan/Emanuele Braga/Maddalena Fragnito/Narek Tovmasyan/Marine Hovsepyan/ Ovsanna Hovsepyan/Haykuhi Avestisyan
10:00-10:30 Opening Remarks and Introduction
Dr. Margarita Tupitsyn
Russian Art as a Sisyphean Project
In 1990 I curated the exhibition The Work of Art in the Age of Perestroika, which was largely devoted to
In fact, global curators who take pride in their commitment to providing equal opportunities to artists of all nationalities, to the extreme of giving their mammoth exhibitions titles like Against Exclusion, remain far less enthusiastic about Russian cultural production than, say, Chinese, Indian, or African. Such an attitude may be categorized as a new Orientalism, a new West/East binary into which Russian culture barely fits. Moreover, the degree of referential debt assigned at the outset of modernism to Asia, Africa, and
Dr. Vardan Azatyan
Myths and Visions of Artistic Avant-gardes in
I discuss artistic avant-gardes in
I argue that contemporary art practices need to radically rethink their subverting strategies as directed against dominant discourses and strive for a strategy which would go beyond the logic of dominance and subversion however multilayered and nuanced are the terms by which this logic is conceived. I conclude the paper by suggesting a possible strategy for artistic avant-gardes in
18:00- 20:00 Presentations
The Tea Ceremony
Since twenty years, the TRAM network association federates about thirty art centers in the region
Such institutions give a great importance to “audiences” and reconcile them with forms they sometimes consider as provocations. They favor a direct presence of the artists, themselves regularly producing artworks especially for these places, their environment (off-site events) and contexts. At the scale of the exhibition length, processual forms integrate the dimension of speech, performances and experiments involving a transmission, or a relation with the visitors. I will try and analyze some shared tendencies among projects that took place in this regional network recently.
Notions of Transversality: Dialogues of Aesthetics, Ethics, Politics
The presentation focuses on four case studies to develop an aesthetic understanding and an analytical concept of how to create and interpret the specificity of artistic, curatorial and cultural production allowing for transversality by way of creating aesthetic communities. These case studies are "Macondo - Life on Earth in
Adnan Yıldız and Aykan Safoğlu
Artistic Dialog+ Curatorial Grammar
“AH OH” by ğ (soft g)
Berlin/Istanbul based curatorial collective will present their first project, “AH OH” an exhibition that is designed to develop a dialogue between LGBT organizations and contemporary art practitioners. Questioning some terms such as community, artistic dialogue, curatorial grammar, group identity, social responsibility, critical knowledge, identity, activism… within this experience, will also refer to some historical incidents, local references, and personal histories.
Dr. Victor Tupitsyn
Seeing Through a Crack
Following the death of Lenin in 1924, there began a period of collectivization. The peasantry, which in pre-Revolutionary
This observation can be applied to an exemplary infant terrible, placed in a global orphanage known as “art.” Self-perception as an eternal child harks back to a time when the burden of adulthood was placed on government bureaucracy. Everyone else was inculcated with the idea that “the only privileged class in the
Despite their chronological proximity, the contexts of childhood and youth are not metonymically close: unlike childhood, youth does not feel comfortable in the position of onlooker fascinated by the conflict and the unity of opposites. It is characterized by social altruism, rebellion and an intolerance toward everything invested with “paternal” prerogatives. On the other hand, the iconoclastic gesture does not befit childhood (eternal, stagnant childhood), for which inertia and a taste for an apocalyptic vision of the world are “appropriate” ‑- whereas youth is aflame with a desire to alter the existing order of things. In other words, both youth and the youthful are missing from present-day world, where childhood and adulthood remain the principal psychosocial niches.
12:00-13:30 Talk and Round-Table: Curatorial Interventions
Reconjugating the Curator-Function: a case study in curating contemporary art, thinking about cultural policy and producing publics in Cairo
The shifting functions of artist, critic, work of art and curator within contemporary artistic practices, are constantly demanding a re-evaluation and definition of the role and function of our practices. The traditional distinction between audience and producer no longer hold true. In contexts within which contemporary art practice, in its lateral definition, is still struggling for definition and grappling to expands its forms of engagement with its publics, how do we negotiate our curator-function? I propose to discuss a number of decisions within my own curatorial practice in the last year, within my current capacity as Curator at the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art in Cairo, an integral art institution founded in 1998, that contributed to the radical shift in expanding the potential of contemporary art practices in Cairo over the past decade, towards questioning curatorial-responsibility and the ‘task of the curator’ within that context. The case studies will include a recent exhibition held at the gallery, “Invisible Publics”. Through this example, I meditate on the experience of producing the Cairo Complaints Choir, an extension of the Complaints Choir project initiated by Oliver and Tellervo Kochta-Kalleinen in
18:00- 20:00 Presentations (3)
The Transient and Mutable Monument
Monuments are objects that cover a wide scope of possible formal categories including architecture, art, design, (and even performance), but they are grouped and defined as monuments by their intention and the ideas, events or persons that they honour. They engage a wide range of social and design issues in their execution, maintenance, and display.
My thoughts are very much inspired by the work of Estonian artist Kristina Norman, whose recent work explores the issues surrounding the Bronze Soldier monument in
My presentation will make the case for the development of speculative designs and/or instructions for a new unstable and impermanent monument, using common materials and raw human resources, which would be openly released and shared. Developing an “open source” monument design to be shared globally poses a unique challenge.
The Logic of the Projects in the Public Realm: A Talk on Slalom between
a social involvement and the politics of the hidden agendas (based on my
Over the last tree years I commissioned projects on the ruins of the 10-th Anniversary Stadium in
The 10th-Anniversary Stadium was built in 1955 from the rubble of war and
preserved Communism’s good name for forty years. In the early 1990s it fell into ruin, and was only revived by Vietnamese and Russian traders. Since then the area has become an open-air market, an Asian inner city, a primeval garden, a storehouse of urban legends, a piece of Land-Art, or a work camp for botanists. The heterotopic logic of the place and its long-standing (non-)presence in the city, inspired me to curate series of live art projects The Finissage of Stadium X and the related reader, Stadium X; A Place That NeverWas.
Public Movement from
Land Art in SFRJ – Reinterpreted Monuments
A specific party policy on artistic expression in Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) has led to some astonishing artistic achievements. Although connected to the party authorities, these works had far surpassed any similar attempt of the artists to utilize the ideology in order to realise their own grandiose landscape architecture. In the past ten years when we were able to see these political landmarks from a contextual distance, several contemporary artists such as photographer Marko Lulić in Modernity in YU, David Maljković in Scene for a New Heritage (numbers 1 & 2, 2004 & 2006), Marijan Crtalić in Nevidljivi Sisak (2007-2010) or curatorial collective WHW on sculptor Vojin Bakić, have attempted to see beyond the obvious. These memorials to WWII have been frequently dubbed as ugly socialist landmarks, »following flat-footed abstract rhetoric crushed under its own weight«. However I will argue that such one-sided interpretation is of this monuments is merely a product of persistent political dualities of the cold war. The question that should be asked is how are the Land Art works by Robert Smithson from 60s and 70s any different from Bogdan Bogdanović’s primitive land marks? Are the public structures of Sol LeWitt any different from Vojin Bakić’s constructions? And why the formally superb sculptures by Miodrag Živković can be called »overblown and joy-killing Titost monuments«!? The initial idea for the ongoing project on SFRJ monuments is to reinterpret these landmarks through a series of photographic exhibitions and publication of a critical reader that would help to restore the decaying monuments which are not only the victims of time but also the victims of misunderstanding of their historical value.
Visit to art institutions in
Round-table discussion on cultural and institutional politics organized by Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas
Travel to Ijevan
Encounters on Borders
Organizers: Arevik Grigoryan/Armenak Grigoryan/Gor Yengoyan/Harutyun Alpetyan/Karin Grigoryan/Liana Khachatryan/Nazareth Karoyan/Nvard Yerkanian/Sona Melik-Karamyan/Taguhi Torosyan/Vahram Aghasyan
Volunteers and free participants: Anais Gyulbudaghyan, Ashkhen Minasyan, Elizabeth Torosyan, Sona Baghdasaryan, Tsovinar Ghazaryan, David Vardanyan, Vaghinak Ghazaryan,
In terms of cultural production,
It’s vital to understand what is pursuing the decentralization of management in cultural life, which is happening globally everywhere. On the other hand, it’s necessary to train cultural operators who will be capable of developing and implementing programs which mark this change in cultural management paradigm.
AICA Armenia’s Art Criticism and Curatorial Training educational program is reflecting to the fore-mentioned issues. Receiving theoretical knowledge, the students have simultaneously initiated and are implementing Encounters on Borders Summer Festival of Community Art which is their final work. The presented projects are united by the interest towards the social and historical scale, and figurative aspects of urban environment.
Previously industrial, and now a carrier of students’ and touristic capacity, Ijevan holds the necessary historical experience required for the revival of cultural life. :
The most notable was the International Symposium of Sculpture, which heretofore continues to recall the vision of turning Ijevan into a venue of cultural initiatives, carried out by the cultural and administrative workers of the late Soviet era.
Time will tell whether it’s possible to revive that future-intended notion amongst today’s Ijevan residents. Encounters on Borders festival has been designed with that hope in mind.
19:00-20:00 Exhibition Opening (Ijevan gallery)
The subtlety of transition times is arduous to gin in twilight. This is a tense of dusk and chiaroscuro when it seems that the body movements are in slow motion.
Catching sight of transition cracks is also complicated in social reality, when everything is changing very fast. The individual seems to appear in a trap between two political systems; one of the formers is a zombie, a remnant in social memory, and the other simulates visions and legends of future.
In such positions of fragile transitions the artist’s role becomes crucial; one appears as an actor of paradigm changes, proposing them to the attention of wide social formations.
But in order to fix this transformation the subject is compelled to bustle from one community and identity to another. By unfolding and occupying the cracks emerging between different territories, between “before” and “after”, the artist gives birth to new subjectivities, new urban identities.
Those are the flexible characters who mark and at the same time blur the borderlines between times and regions.
Artists: Mher Azatyan, Tigran Khachatryan, Norayr Chilingaryan
21:00 Open Air Concert
Mano Grigoryan: Pogo Right/Pincet group (Sculpture garden)
Public Art in
Haiti’s earthquake killed approximately 300,000 people, among of which were hundreds of fine artists, metal sculptors and artisans whose living depended upon the sales of souvenirs sold to foreigners. The earthquake of January 12, referred to as the Goudou Goudou, broke down the divisions between what had been seen previously as elite artists and their artisan counterparts, and as such the schism between high and low art.
After the Goudou Goudou, scavenging the thousands of piles of debris by children and young men was a task of survival and pulling the metal out of the rubble to craft lawn chairs, souvenirs of local flora, the transformation from metal rod to a voudou god, or the placement of a crushed car in the middle of a road all became occasions for celebrating life after death and for conterminously commemorating death through life. News reports told of thousands of paintings destroyed in the Centre d’Art, College Saint Pierre, Musée Galerie d’Art Nader on Rue
Bouvreuil and the destruction of the Cathédrale Sainte-Trinité which all housed valuable artworks such as those of Haitian masters Hector Hyppolite, Philome Obin, Prefete Duffaut and Wilson Bigaud. Yet, the true loss of
“fundraising.” Internet sites such as “Haitian Earthquake Relief Art Sale” put artworks on virtual auction announcing that proceedings would be “donated to the relief efforts”, and the Smithsonian set up a camp in a former UNDP building to restore the lost art. In this way Haitian art was recast on the world scene as an art of tragedy and the Goudou Goudou gave birth to the museum of disaster relief in the context of communal art.
My paper will examine the nexus between developmental models utilized by humanitarian NGOs on the ground in Haiti and the recuperation of Haitian art through the similar networks which attempt to save Haitian art as if a human life. My work questions the relationship between public spectatorship and communal art and likewise interrogates the problematic ties between the international interception and mediation, local construction and consumption of these pieces, and the representational force of this art. Ultimately, I call into question the representational form of communal monuments and their co-optation under the guise of development or aid.
What are the implications for treating Haitian art through human rights and political discourse? How can communities continue to produce art when the bottom line of art to be sold to an international audience must maintain a narrative of disaster, or at the very least, tangentially through a meta-discourse which consistently deterritorializes disaster in the framework of relief and humanitarian aid? Most importantly, is it possible that this artwork produced since the Goudou Goudou comes to represent the local communities’ relationship to their own history, their own memory, and even their own death without bearing the traces of disaster relief?
12:00-14:00 Panel Discussion
Art criticism and curatorial training school
"1985-1991 Ijevan Sculpture Symposium.Post Factum" (
By stressing the importance of cultural decentralization policy and the necessity of reinterpretation of public memory, the graduates/alumni of Art Criticism and
15:00-17:00 Presentations (4): Anthropology of the Communal
Theory as Practice: A Creative Practitioner-based Research on CASAMARLES’ Local Context
The focus of this presentation, which more precisely could be qualified as an experiment, is to undertake a researcher-based exercise using a self-analytical methodology to investigate one’s own experience of lived place and space. Its aim is to break down acquired theoretical knowledge while testing its usability. This self-analysis is conducted by creatively documenting and critically commenting on a series of ordinary activities and local rituals in the context of Llorenc del Penedes: the village where I grow up and where I have been living for the last three months. These activities and rituals have marked the researcher’s ‘everydayness’ when living in CASAMARLES, an interdisciplinary living and working space for creativity and cultural research developed since January 2008. Paying special attention to non-artists, the documentary and presentation will attempt to describe everyday, un-important and subtle activities and tricks used by individuals and collectives of my village in order to underline the relevance of the different strategies used in the creation of a sense of belonging, in short a sense of ‘locality’.
Carmen De Michele
Tepito: Art in the “Rough Neighbourhood”
Tepito is, without exaggertion, the most famous neighborhood in
Living in Tepito is a way of life”, its dwellers claim. Many of them have never left their “barrio“.In late 1970s, a group of artists decided to give Tepito a public identity through their art. They fouded “Tepito Arte Acá“. Inspired by the highly political art of the muralist movement in the 1920s, their work focused on the “tepiteños“ and their struggles. They were the first of many artists of that neighborhood who tried to catalyze their anger and discontent through art.
Tepito is changing. A large influx of immigrants pour in from the nearby city of
From Apt Art to Art in the Apartment
My friends and I created an art group in
My presentation concerns the apartment exhibition series arranged as underground activities in Soviet times in
Red Thread e-Journal www.red-thread.org
The project Red Thread is envisioned as an active network and platform for exchange of knowledge and collaboration of artists, curators, social scientists, theorists and cultural operators from the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus,
The title of the project indicates a critical cultural and artistic engagement that has been present in the peripheral zones of the European modernistic project in different conceptual manifestations since the 1960s, when the crisis of the project of Western monolith high modernism in its relation to ideas of social progress became apparent. Metaphorical meaning of the expression 'red thread' suggests not only way out of labyrinth, but also a fragile, elastic link between different intellectual, social and artistic experimentations that share a desire for social change and the active role of culture and art in this process.
Nvard Yerkanian, Harutyun Alpetyan
“The City: Borders and Definitions” workshop
(Between students of Yeravan Open University and
Despite being a product of human activity, “the city” scarcely goes in for definitions. On one hand, it introduces itself as a whole system; on the other hand, it seems as if it’s constantly trying to hide its underlying binary principle. This principle is manifested in various phenomena: in architectural solutions, social relations, and different psychological processes. The presence of opposing processes in balance already refers to the existence of the city. However, it doesn't come to those contrasts being in balance: the city itself gives birth to unbalanced states.
Civilization, civility and politics: in the context of these paradigms, the concept of citizenship refers more to the subject’s social space rather than the physical space of its existence; that is, the habitat. The initial stage of being conscious of oneself as a citizen is the realization of the urban context in which the individual has appeared. Subsequently, the subject repositions himself with respect to the given context, specifying demands and responsibilities in one's environment, since, as a point of support; it also has the perception of the other in its mind.
What are the factors by which reorientation and self-consciousness are conditioned? Where do mine end and the other’s - begin? Is it (somehow) possible, to follow that process? These practical lessons aim at outlining various paths to approach these issues.
19:00-20.00 Presentation by Yuri Manvelyan (Ijevan gallery)
21:00 Film program
10.00-11.30 Round table
Moderated by Eva Khachatryan
12:00-13:30 Talk and Round-Table: Curatorial Interventions
SCCA- World of Art Curatorial Course
Gagik Charchyan (Business centre)
General Round-Table (House of Culture)
19.00-20.00 “Inwards” context responsive art exhibitions (next to the ropeway building)
The group project designed for the theoretical discussions, workshops and lectures section of the festival can be considered as an artistic performance and intervention. By penetrating into the citiscape of Ijevan, we wish to shape a new attitude towards public art. The event is aimed at turning the outlook of city residents inwards, towards the space they are living in by raising public issues which heretofore have been invisible.
Inwards is a group event; the projects are independent/autonomous and based on personal experiences of the authors.
Sona Abgaryan/Susan Amujanyan/Manan Torosyan/Natuka Vacadze/ Temo Kartvilishwili/Koka Kitiashvili/Zura Kikvadze/Garik Yengibaryan/Edgar Amroyan/Tigran Araqelyan/Arev Arakelian/Gor Yengoyan
(8.00-13.00 Inward (optional)
Walk tour with Gor Engoyan along Ijevan-Tsltan non-functioning ropeway)
The touristic paths are the most preferable cultural and social layers; churches, landscapes, etc. And what can the unrealized tourist roots and their traces show? Ijevan‘s half-built ropeway station carried out in the 80‘s is attractive by its unfinished form, but at the same time it refers to current socio-political instability in Armenia. The station should hav been connected to the recreation zone called "Tsltan" ; this route is now passable only by feet and cross-country vehicle. A few ha were deforested for the purpose of building the upper station. The volunteer expedition will move from inner to the upper station, examining the traces of the corrupt project, inaugurating the route estimated for the ropeway and symbolically continuing the process of its construction.
21:00 Open-Air Concert
Arni Rock & Apricota (
Visit to historical sites of Tavush region
President of AICA-Armenia, co-founder of Summer Seminars for Art Curators
Member of AICA-Armenia, co-founder of Summer Seminars for Art Curators
Coordination and communication
PR and Documentation
SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS:
Transkaukazja Embassy of
 Breakfast is provided at 9:30, and lunch break is at 1:30.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Արվեստի կուրատորների ամառային սեմինարներ. Հինգերորդ թողարկում
Գեղագիտական համայնքներ եւ համայնքային արվեստի կոնտեքստուալ թարգմանություն
Օգոստոսի 15-20, 2010 Երևան, Իջևան
Արվեստի Քննադատների ազգային ասոցիացիայի ամառային սեմինարների ամենամյա ծրագիրն իրականացվում է SCCA-Ljubljana–ի, Ստամբուլի «BM Suma» կենտրոնի, Ալմա–Աթայի SCCA-Alma-Aty կենտրոնի ու Կահիրեի «Townhouse» պատկերասրահի հետ համագործակցությամբ: Ամառային սեմինարը միավորում է տարբեր համատեքստերում գործող արվեստի համադրողներին` դասախոսությունների, գործնական սեմինարների, շնորհանդեսների եւ արվեստի տարածքներ այցելությունների եւ այլ միջոցառումներով:
Հինգերորդ ամառային սեմինարի թեմատիկ ընդհանուր շրջանակը արվեստային համայնքների ու համայնքային արվեստի ներկայացման հարցն է։ Բարձրացվող հարցերի թվում են արվեստի ընկալման գործում կոնտեքստուալ թարգմանության խնդիրը, այն դեպքում, երբ արվեստի գործն արտադրվել է ներկայից տարբեր տարածաժամանակային ու գաղափարաբանական պայմաններում։ Ո՞րն է ընկալման քաղաքականության մեջ կուրատորի դերն ու նշանակությունը։ Կարո՞ղ է արդյոք այլ պայմաններում ստեղծված գործը ներկայում ծավալվող դիսկուրսների մաս կազմել մեկնաբանության միջոցով։ Ի՞նչ կարգավիճակում է հայտնվում արվեստի գործը, երբ նպատակադրված ուղերձն ու հանդիսատեսն այլևս չկան։
Սեմինարի ծրագիրը բաղկացած է ամենօրյա դասախոսություններից, քննարկումներից եւ շնորհանդեսներից։ Տեսական մասը տեղի կունենա Երեւանում, օգոստոսի 15-17-ը: Սեմինարի երկրորդ եւ գործնական մասը պատրաստել են Արվեստի նախագծման ծրագրի շրջանավարտները: Ի թիվս այլ գործունեությունների` ասոցիացիան իրականացնում է կրթական այլընտրանքային` «Մշակութային նախագծում և լուսաբանում» 10-ամսյա դասընթացը: Առաջիկա 3 տարվա ընթացքում դասընթացը հավակնում է դառնալ հետբակալավրական կրթական ծրագիր` արվեստի համակարգողների եւ արվեստի լրագրության գծով։ Այսպես, «Հուշարձանի համայնքային ֆունկցիան» խորագրի ներքո նախատեսվող ցուցադրություններն ու քննարկումներն Իջեւանում կընթանան օգոստոսի 18-20-ը:
Արվեստի քննադատների ազգային ասոցիացիայի (ԱԻԿԱ-Հայաստան) գործունեության ամփոփ նկարագիր
Արվեստի քննադատների ազգային ասոցիացիան հիմնադրվել է 2005 թվականին: Աշխատում է Հայաստանում արվեստի քննադատության զարգացման, արվեստագետի եւ հանրության փոխհաղորդակցության, արվեստի քննադատի արդի խնդիրների, քննադատի դերի բարձրացման խնդիրների շուրջ: 2005 թվականին Մեծ Բրիտանիայի Պլիմուտի համալսարանի մասնագետների հետ կազմակերպել է մեկօրյա դասընթաց` կոլոքվիում, Երևանում կայացած «Հանրային ոլորտ. Վիճարկման և վերըմբռնման միջև» վերնագրով եռօրյա գիտաժողովի արդյունքում նկարահանվել է վավերագրական ֆիլմ և հրատարակվել գիտաժողովի նյութերի ամփոփ ժողովածու: 2006- 2007 թվականներին մշակվել և ստեղծվել է արվեստի համակարգողների երևանյան ամառային միջազգային դպրոցը: 2008 թվականին կազմակերպվել է Արվեստի քննադատների ազգային ասոցիացիայի գործունեությունը խթանող համաժողով: Այդ ժամանակահատվածում մշակվել և Գյումրիի 6-րդ Բիենալեի շրջանակում իրականացվել է ցուցահանդեսային ուսումնական մի նախագիծ: