100 years of Armenian genocide: Venice Biennale 2015

Artists from the Armenian diaspora will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at the 2015 Venice Biennale.

The Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Culture announced on 2 February 2015 that its pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. 

Image courtesy the Mekhitarist Monastery of the Island of San Lazzaro, Venice.

Image courtesy the Mekhitarist Monastery of the Island of San Lazzaro, Venice.

“Armenity”

Entitled “Armenity”, the Armenian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale will feature a group show of sixteen artists from the Armenian diaspora. They include:

  • Haig Aivazian (Lebanon)
  • Nigol Bezjian (Syria/USA)
  • Anna Boghiguian (Egypt/Canada)
  • Hera Büyüktaşçıyan (Turkey)
  • Silvina Der-Meguerditchian (Argentina/Germany)
  • Rene Gabri & Ayreen Anastas (Iran/Palestine/USA)
  • Mekhitar Garabedian (Belgium)
  • Aikaterini Gegisian (Greece)
  • Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi (Italy)
  • Aram Jibilian (USA)
  • Nina Katchadourian (USA/Finland)
  • Melik Ohanian (France)
  • Mikayel Ohanjanyan (Armenia/Italy)
  • Rosana Palazyan (Brazil)
  • Sarkis (Turkey/France)
  • Hrair Sarkissian (Syria/UK)

According to the press release, the curatorial concept of “armenity” transcends the artists’ geographical origins and current nationality due to their ingrained concerns about memory, justice and reconciliation. The press release states:

Through their talent and willpower, these grandchildren of survivors of the Armenian Genocide […] rebuilt a “transnational assembly” from the remnants of a shattered identity. […] Whether they were born in Beirut, Lyon, Los Angeles, or Cairo […] these global citizens constantly question and reinvent their armenity.

Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, 'Letters from Lost Paradise', 2014, mechanism, bronze, wood. Site specific installation. Image courtesy the artist.

Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, ‘Letters from Lost Paradise’, 2014, mechanism, bronze, wood. Site specific installation. Image courtesy the artist.

The Mekhitarist Monastery on San Lazzaro

As at the 2013 Venice Biennale, the Armenian pavilion will be located at the Mekhitarist Monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni. According to the press release, the location is of special significance for the Armenian diaspora:

It was here that in the early 19th century Lord Byron studied the Armenian language. Many important works of European literature and religious texts were first translated into Armenian on this scenic island. Over its 300-year history the Monastery of San Lazzaro […] has helped to preserve Armenia’s unique cultural heritage, much of which might otherwise have been lost.

Aikaterini Gegisian, 'A Small Guide to the Invisible Seas', 2015, collage on paper, 28.5 x 22 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens/Thessaloniki.

Aikaterini Gegisian, ‘A Small Guide to the Invisible Seas’, 2015, collage on paper, 28.5 x 22 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens/Thessaloniki.

A human rights curator

The exhibition is curated by Adelina Cüberyan v. Fürstenberg, a renowned international curator and granddaughter of the Armenian architect Dikran Kalfa Cüberyan. A Swiss citizen born in Istanbul, Cüberyan is known as a pioneer in the field of contemporary art and for

bringing art to spaces such as monasteries, madrasahs, large public buildings, squares, islands, and parks.

In 1995, Cüberyan was invited to curate the international exhibition “Dialogues of Peace” that was presented at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, featuring sixty artists from around the world.

In 1996, she founded ART for The World, a non-governmental organisation associated with the UN Department of Public Information, which aims to promote the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through exhibitions and events around the world.

Michele Chan

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Related Topics: West Asian artists, biennales, biennials, curatorial practice, events in Venice

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