For the first time, the Armenian Arts Council presents a six-month programme of exhibitions across the Mount Ararat region.
Art Radar takes a look at some highlights from the inaugural STANDART, the Triennial of Contemporary Art in Armenia.
From July to December 2017 the Armenian Arts Council (AAC), in collaboration with ART for The World and the Embassy of Switzerland in Armenia, presents the first edition of STANDART, the Triennial of Contemporary Art in Armenia. Comprised of exhibitions with specific itineraries throughout Armenia, the Triennial engages with diverse communities and encourages relationships between artists, writers, curators, scientists, local communities and visitors.
The name, STANDART, was chosen for the avant-garde Armenian magazine Standard, published in 1924. Adelina Cüberyan von Fürstenberg, who curated the National Pavilion of Armenia at the 56th edition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2015, curates this first triennial edition.
STANDART 2017 takes place across a number of locations in the Mount Ararat region and is inspired by the unfinished novel The Mount Analogue, by the French surrealist writer and poet René Daumal (1908-1944). The novel explores poetic research and temporary experience and is a meditation on the pursuit of knowledge. The Triennial places these themes within the context of historic and cultural sites in the Mount Ararat region.
The Triennial takes place over a number of stages and includes art exhibitions, encounters, direct collaborations, site-specific works and performances with international and local artists. STANDART is presented over two parts, the first takes place from 24 July to 30 September, and the second from 14 September to 31 December.
Art Radar selected a few highlights to watch out for in STANDART 2017.
1. Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri
Born in Bethlehem, Palestine and Teheran, Iran, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri’s work explores the porous space between life and the archive. They believe that art is an affirmation of life and the resistance against death and genocide that haunt current world events.
For Rene Gabri the artistic process retains great importance and in fact, his unfinished works outnumber his exhibited ones. He collaborates with others, such as Erin McGonigle and Heimo Lattner in the e-Xplo collective, which has developed public works engaging specific sites, such as the mountains of Colorado or the shores of Sharjah. His practice engages with the world around us through an exploration of cultural practice, social thought and politics.
Ayreen Anastas, part of the New York-based artist community and collaborative space 16 Beaver group, has been involved in many important exhibitions such as at the Fellbach 13th Small Sculpture Triennial, the National Pavillion of Armenia at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 and the 12th Sharjah Biennial in 2015. Anastas has recently collaborated more with Rene Gabri due to their involvement with the 16 Beaver group and their Radioactive Discussion series is an extension of this collaboration.
2. Benji Boyadgian
Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Benji Boyadgian (b. 1983) creates research-based projects centred around themes of heritage, territory, architecture and landscape. He works mainly in realist painting and drawing, often capturing the ruins around Jerusalem, including Wadi el-Shami or the ancient Roman aqueduct, recording their presence as well as the stress of modern expansion that surrounds them.
For the Triennial, Boyadgian excavates the memory of the landscape through his work, creating a territory that is hypothetically in an area of ‘Mount Analogue’. The piece searches out traces or ruins in a certain space and explores concepts of territoriality.
3. Aleksey Manukyan
Russian artist Aleksey Manukyan (b. 1974), who lives and works in Gyumri, Armenia, creates installation-performances, land-art, photo and video projects. Since 2010 he often uses the technique of frottage (taking a rubbing from an uneven surface) in urban environments, such as when he copied manhole covers in Dresden and Berlin. He has since done frottage performances in many cities such as Shushi, Lublin, Kars, Diarbekir-Tigranakert, Berlin, Copenhagen, Nancy, Brussels, Istanbul and others.
For the Triennial Manukyan presents Urban Stamp (2017), where he will create urban stamps of artifacts of historical value in Gyumri Abovyan Street and Mercurov museum. By transferring these copies of the urban environment to another setting, Manu challenges their meaning and perception.
4. Gohar Martirosyan
Armenian conceptual artist Gohar Martirosyan is interested in people’s place in society, which she explores through a visual representation of the relationship between people and their environment. She investigates the connections between subconscious, conscience and action, linking these through the power of imagination.
For STANDART 2017 Martirosyan will collaborate with Italian artist Marta Dell’Angelo, in a performative work that will see them walking to the top of Mount Aragats. The weight of their body, pressing their footprints into the land, transforms the surface of the mountain, leaving traces of their passage behind as a form of sculpture.
5. Mikayel Ohanjanyan
Mikayel Ohanjanyan (b. 1976) is an Armenian sculptor now based in Florence, Italy, where he moved to study sculpture at the Florence Academy of Fine Arts. His work plays at the boundary of opposites, such as definition against shadowed forms. He evokes transparent space, shades light without boundary lines where the invisible is revealed, with indistinguishable changes and moments of perception.
At STANDART 2017 Ohanjanyan is presenting The Doors of Mher (2017), a work based on the tragic and epic story of Armenian hero Pokr Mher. The sculptural installation consists of blocks in basalt with concealed engraved texts inside that address today’s world and its values. In its presentation of Pokr Mher, the work creates an everyman inside each of us that is waiting to break free.
6. Idrissa Ouédraogo
Idrissa Ouédraogo (b. 1954) is a film director from Burkina Faso who explores the tension between rural and urban, and tradition and modernity in his films, often set in African contexts. Several of his films have won awards, such as Tilaï, which transported a Greek tragedy into contemporary Africa.
For the Triennial, Ouédraogo presents La Mangue (2008), a story about a young girl’s journey into womanhood, reflected in the mango tree she plants and protects in spite of the way people step on it and disregard it.
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