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visual dialogue : under_construction Talking about identity in the Armenian Transnation

Venice 09/06 - 14/10 2007


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Mekhitarist Monastery - San Lazzaro Island - Venice Curators: Silvina Der-Meguerditchian | Barbara Hรถffer


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Contents Introduction by Barbara Hรถffer | 5 Project under_construction by Silvina Der-Meguerditchian | 7 Texts The Armenian transnation as a never ending web by Estela Schindel | 15 Armenia Now//:here by Mark Wrasse | 17 Transindividuation and desintification by Ali Akay | 19 Artists Achot Achot | 23 Emily Artinian | 29 Andrew Demijian | 35 Silvina Der-Meguerditchian | 41 Dahlia Elsayed | 47 Archi Galentz | 53 Sophia Gasparian | 59


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Introduction Barbara Hรถffer | Curator


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The exhibition under_construction is meant as an experimental play. It presents a forum for frank dialogue on questions relating to identity, the potential for an Armenian identity beyond defined borders and notions passed on for generations, such as nationality, tradition and language. On display are works by seven artists of Armenian descent whose biographies resemble a cultural patchwork. All of them are multi-lingual and grew up in diverse cultural contexts. The nomadic, hybrid nature of their existence not only enables them to move effortlessly in different languages and cultures as international artists, but also shapes a kind of culture in which identity is a paradoxical, fleeting and constantly changing process. Remembering their Armenian roots – the search for the lost garden – has become the driving force behind the visual dialogues and creative work of Achot Achot, Emily Artenian, Andrew Demirdjian, Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Dahlia Elsayed, Archi Galentz and Sophia Gasparian. In this process Armenia itself has become associated with the idea of a transnation which is constantly emerging and evolving -under_construction. The querying and stirring up of national structures by transnational communities with their creative potential is of particular appeal and is strongly accentuated when seen in context with the Venice Biennale, the big nationoriented art exhibition. The choice of exhibition place by the artists is in line with the long tradition of art production in the diaspora. The exhibition under_construction is based on the Internet project of the same title that Silvina Der-Meguerditchian started in 2005 offering artists a virtual space for active, visual exchange. This platform enables the artists to experiment, experience and share their hybrid identities in an open process. A video recording of this specific working process and the visual artistic dialogues is available to visitors for viewing at the exhibition. The crucial common denominator for selecting the artistic works exhibited is the non-existence of firm

certainties, the absence of clearly defined identities. The yearning for something forever lost and thus the search for a way to remember are the driving force behind the motivation to query the Armenian identity. This applies not only to the artistic contents but also to the question of form and/or the specific medium used for artistic expression. The artistic treatment of the genocide suffered by the Armenians is of particular significance in this context. The annihilation and ethnic dislocation of the Armenion people represent a void, an absence per se, their tangible repercussions still being evident in today’s Armenia as well as in the diaspora. The works presented play with different artistic media and forms; they experiment with the fragments of rememberance and identity ingrained in the individual and collective subconscience. They construct and in turn deconstruct new images. Identity thus becomes a “performative act”, gravitating between existence and non-existence, between creating meaning and dissolving it. The texts by Ali Akay, Estela Schindel and Marc Wrasse are individual interpretations and have quite diverging perspectives on the Armenian identity as well as the potentials and/or difficulties of an Armenian transnation. Whilst the philosopher Marc Wrasse places Armenia in the Now//:here, in the “here and now”, describing a potentially Armenian identity as the interaction between the past and the presence, the philosopher and curator Ali Akay argues that national civil rights are important to the formation of identity. In this context he refers to the problems that immigrants and multicultural societies are faced with and the difficulties encountered when trying to form a collective identity. In her text “Weaving the endless Armenian transnation” the sociologist Estela Schindel in turn highlights the dynamic and creative aspects of the Armenian diaspora as an entity of its own. To her the process of constant renewal ensures a certainty that goes beyond death and loss. 05


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www.underconstructionhome.net Silvina Der-Meguerditchian | Curator, Project initiator


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The construction of identity is deeply tied to environment, which is a kind of mirror in which the self finds itself reflected. Which mirrors do third generation Armenians have? Underconstruction is an online visual dialog by diasporan Armenian artists. Its central concern is the creation of national and transnational identity as a performative act of everyday life. Worldwide, there is no joint political body that unites all Armenians. Of the approximately 10 million Armenians in the world, only about 3 million live in Armenia – the rest are spread throughout the world in over 70 different countries. We have two versions of our native tongue: Eastern and Western. Second generation emigrants are unable to communicate fluently in Armenian. Different heritages divide our mentality around the world into 3 orientations “Ottoman”, Persian and Soviet depending on the time of resettlement and places of origin. Life in the Diaspora offers only a few inspiring identifying traits for younger generations. The widespread interpretation that prevails in most Armenian enclaves outside Armenia is fostered by a conservative impulse for preservation. Life in Armenia is not a better alternative: the country is in a deep identity crisis making it an uncertain model to follow. However, one strong national experience does fuel a sense of community: the trauma of genocide. This trauma involves a legacy of fear, and a challenge from older to future generations that takes a central role: don’t allow us to disappear. Do other topics or ways to understand life link us to each other? Yes, but under the shadow of genocide most of these take on diminished importance. The aims of Underconstruction are: 1. to create a process for recognition, 2. to identify a point of departure for the construction of group consciousness, and 3. through its visual dialogue amongst diasporan Armenian artists, to build a consciousness for the future. Language builds consciousness. As mentioned, the Armenian language no longer provides

a common grammatical structure of identity. In this visual dialogue the artists create a new code. Looking to the other I recognize him and myself. When I put this act of consciousness in image and word, I’m helping to build a language, that in the beginning might be subjective and individual, but in a communicative context could function as a semantem, a “collective sentence”: spread out but linked. The site presents the participating artists – who are diverse in their artistic strategies, visual language and issues - in a dialogue about issues of identity. For a period of one year, each artist has sent in monthly visual material or texts to the others with freely selected topics and the other artists have answered with visual material or text. There is also a section on the site with a discussion forum where anyone, including the artists themselves, can add information, reflections, inspirations and observations. Is it possible to build a permeable identity that allows one to be open without losing ones’ self? Is it possible to recreate and re-experience a feeling of national community through virtual communication in a Transnation? In the Underconstruction process, after a short period the artists began to incorporate the rules of the conversation and their “visual talking” became fluid. In the first four months two new participants joined the group and two participants abandoned the project. The present exhibition has a constitutive character and intensifies the virtual experience with a real experience. The path is long, first steps are made. under_construction becomes a source of a flowing structure, a strategy to face the multiplicity of the contemporary being.

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Dialogue 9 Visual Statement S. Der-Meguerditchian

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Answers

Emily Artinian

Achot Achot

Archi Galentz

D. Elsayed | A.Demirjian

Sophia Gasparian


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Dialogue 9 Visual Statement Sophia Gasparian

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Answers

Archi Galentz

Emily Artinian

Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

Achot Achot

D. Elsayed | A.Demirjian


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Dialogue 7 Visual Statement Achot Achot

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Answers

Archi Galentz

D. Elsayed | A.Demirjian

Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

Emily Artinian

Sophia Gasparian


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Dialogue 10 Visual Statement Elsayed | Demirjian

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Answers

"Anti-war protestor Brian Haw being removed from Parliament Square this past June after a 1km “no-protest zone� was enacted (with the specific intention of moving Haw, who had been demonstrating since the beginning of the war in Iraq). Artist Mark Wallinger has recently re-created this entire protest - including 100s of placards - and installed it at Tate Britain just outside the 1km protest exclusion zone."

It is symbolic that all of our dialogues and our ability to speak freely as armenians culminates with this violent act against speaking Archi Galentz

Emily Artinian

Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

Sophia Gasparian

Achot Achot


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Dialogue 12 Visual Statement Emily Artinian

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Answers

Archi Galentz

Dahlia Elsayed/A.Demirjian

Anti-Corruption Program Launched in Armenia Armenia Thursday, March 01, 2007 Eurasia Foundation Armenia launched a two-year anticorruption program designed to empower the Armenian Government, civil society, and media to assure government fiscal responsibility and regain public trust. The program will offer trainings, international study tours, grants and network development to advance grassroots understanding of corruption issues and strengthen Armenian government response. Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

Achot Achot

Sophia Gasparian


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Dialogue 4 Visual Statement Archi Galentz

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Answers

Achot Achot

Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

"Memorial day weekend" USA 2005 D. Elsayed | A. Demirjian

silence

Emily Artinian

The dialogue is becoming intresting, but I can't still turn on.

The joy of the nationalism Kara Matsakian

David Kareyan


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Dr. Estela Schindel The Armenian Transnation as a never ending web


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Since the first great dispersion started after the year 1045, the Armenian people have gone through multiple and varied forms of migration and exile. The diversity of words used in the Armenian language to name the diaspora, according to Khachich Tölölyan, is a testimony to and a result of this plurality of experiences. Spurk, arderkir, tz'ronk, gharib, gaghut -suggestively related to the Hebrew term galut- are each related to different moments and modes of life in foreign lands. The lexical proliferation is a mark of this complex and multilayered history. A plurality to be associated not so much with lack and longing, but with the vitality and dynamism of the diasporic condition. A dispersion, as any other dissemination, acquires through language a fecund meaning. As if spreading seeds, migration allows the expansion of cultural artefacts and values and turns the diaspora into a fertile space. The word, this portative treasure able to extend, adapt, and be fruitful in remote places, enabled those moments of great cultural development that Armenian communities enjoyed around the world. Thus, the first newspaper written in Armenian language, published in Madras, India in 1794, is a sign of this vitality and shows how common shared culture offered spaces to recreate itself and, hence, symbolic realms to inhabit. This permanent recreation of Armenian existence in the diaspora, together with the increasing discrediting of the concepts of “nation” and “identity”, nowadays displaced by notions such as global deterritorialization and cultural hybridity, led to the current turn to the idea of Armenia as a transnation. The diaspora can be no longer viewed as exile and orphanhood, a peripheric missing of the distant homeland, but rather as a net which includes, but exceeds, the physical Armenian territory; not

a geographically located place, but the collective weaving of an endless web. Not a promise projected to the future but a permanent construction today. To acknowledge the creative potential implicit in the diaspora does not mean to ignore the destructive force displayed in it by persecution and extermination. The memory of the genocide is, as well as the word, a fundamental trace in the permanent weaving of the transnation. Along with the diasporic experience and the key role of the lettered tradition, this shows the affinity between the Armenian and the Jewish peoples. As in the legacy of the Shoah, the duty to remember parallels the challenge of recreating the collective identity beyond the evocation of the death, of finding positive ways to bind the sense of cultural belonging. The curatorial work of under_ construction takes care of this rich and complex heritage in a responsible and loving manner. The artists' commitment, initiated already as an exchange platform on the web a powerful resource and altogether a metaphor for this rhizomatic construction of the transnation proposes images which do not claim the univocity and solidity of national symbols, but aim to be like strings composing a plot. Their work could not have found a better shelter than the walls of a monastery which was the site of flourishing Armenian cultural life. And not a better place than Venice, a port which was hospitable to a prosperous community in accordance with its mercantile lineage and its character of exchange knot between distant worlds. For as the water city, collective identity does not rely on firm ground, but on a copious archipelago, crossed by numerous canals like bonds weaving a never ending web.

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Marc Wrasse Armenia Now //: here


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Here are six Armenian artists, all quite secular, in a famous Armenian monastery located beyond the shores of their home country, namely in Venice, Italy: while the world has got accustomed to peoples living in their home countries there are peoples who have to derive their self-awareness mainly from the loss of it. When contemplating this paradox thoughts tend to go either way: backward, thereby grieving and mourning loss, or forward, claiming the lost identity back by dreaming up a kind of unity, a unity that demands one's own identity be seamlessly interwoven with the collective one by merging both in a place to be named "Armenian" flags, music, dignitaries and all. However, both strains of thought are a delusion: no one can grieve forever, and the beauty of the flag and music acts as camouflage for the violence that has always been associated with nationality. There is no nation without military, none without the humiliating imbalance between rich and poor, none that does not flex its muscles to punish those who challenge the might of its institutions and do not play by the rules - a vain endeavour. Thus, those Armenians who have nothing left but a dream or vanished hopes are looked upon by the world as the lucky ones.

Art can be such a void, and all those who allow themselves to be touched by art discover the nowhere that is at the root of their own existence. And in this context we can speak of an Armenia Now//:here. Like a vector this concept represents the interaction between the past and the future, the span in which our lives briefly unfold, if at all. Armenia Now//:here acts as a motor for reciprocal creativity. If we - like those three quarters of Armenians who do not have a land to call their own - ask ourselves what the essence of their existence is, if we look beyond grievance and illusion, or else if we virtuously consider identity to be something that can only be seen critically and in context with its formation, then the only likely answer is fruitful commemoration and historically evolving imagination. Armenia is the place where people pick up the threads to weave them into a carpet, the fuzzy pattern of which manifests their yearning for an existence without self-denial. Armenia is the place where the materiality and texture of such threads reflect all that could only be heard by the yearning voices of the grandparents: a love of unmistakable colour and taste.

All that remains of the past and for the future is the narrow gauge of the here and now and the need to determine what exactly Armenian means - beyond all retroactive and future illusions. Art renders itself beautifully for this experiment: its mostly unviolent, playful nature unfolds not only as a dialogue between the artists but also as a dialogue with an unsuspecting audience. The nowhere, the void, the blanks could be filled with all that was or could have been, had it not been for the all-destructive violence. 17


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Ali Akay Trans-individuation and desidentification


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The identity of the individual is a central problem of our time. We have inherited this situation from the creation of the nation-state, and also, before it, the creation of kingdoms in Europe. The European Enlightenment is one of the factors through which the individual has come to be seen as a person who belongs to a collectivity. This was a moment in history when we ceased to speak of “geography, latitudes and longitudes”, and began to speak of politics in new terms, in which the subject, the people, became a central element. We have been using the idea of “citizenship” since the creation of the nation-state, and it has become a very positive formulation, with strong connotations of freedom. Hobbes placement “people” before the notion of “citizenship”, eliminating the concept of a multitude, something that is very relevant to us today, with respect to contemporary sociological use of the terms. The legacy of the nation-state is for us a serious problem because of the many crimes this entity was responsible for during its history, a history that we are still experiencing and from which we must absolutely exit, if we are to move forward into our new situation and the creation of new kinds of multitudes. The historical development of the idea of the individual belonging to a collective community possesses a number of bifurcations. The French sociologist Gabriel Tarde (1843-1904) interpreted the subject of the individual in terms of Leibniz' ideas of the monad. Tarde added to the Leibnizien monad the concept of open doors and windows. It means that Leibniz's cabinet has no doors neither windows. It is a closed monad whereas the individual of Tarde is a poreuse one and not closed to itself. This is a transindividuality, the poreuse one and for that reason we can call that crossing individual situation of the person as a desidentification in itself because of the open relationship to the whole possibility

of the global individuation. This is a moment in the history of philosophy when we see the notion of the individual as an integrated person, as an indivisible subject of consciousness. This development of the indivisibility of the person makes one person belong to himself. Sociology has further developed the difference between society and the individual as a long process of the separation of the individual from the societal (social). Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, in Durkheim's work, the individual was separated from the collective and exists as a part of the society. In our current approach to sociology, in part because of the influence of the positions of Durkheim, society and the individual are not able to understand, I think, the position of the individual today. During the last two decades the notion of multiculturalism has begun to have a central role in the debate in the social sciences and in the arts. But unfortunately this has been only, in the main, in the context of the contentious subject of immigration. Immigrants have the possibility of creating new kinds of culture in the societies in which they are involved, and they can choose to accept assimilation or the differences of the cultures (a new demand of young citizens, especially from post-colonial countries). We can call this the culture of immigrants. On this point the idea of “a people” is very problematic because what we call people according to Hobbes are those who belong to a nation-state. How we can talk about “a people” when immigrants are only immigrants and not citizens? To have citizenship demands a naturalization of the individual coming from another culture. In Europe it is possible to be a member of a nation only if one has citizenship of the nation.

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Artists


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Sophia Gasparian

Achot Achot

Emily Artinian Dalia Elsayed

Andrew Demirjian

Archi Galentz

Silvina Der Meguerditchian


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Achot Achot Born in Yerevan, 1961, lives and works in Paris


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afactum, 2007, Installation with sugar cubes, MusĂŠe Departamental de Gap 23


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Achot Achot was born in Yerevan in 1961 and grew up in Armenia. He now lives in Paris. In his spiritual afactum works photography is not only juxtaposed against and mixed with abstract painting: Achot Achot also reconciles two seemingly diverging views of life with each other and synthesises them. His photographs of young women with their palpable eroticism address as well as dissolve the separation of body and soul that is so inherent in ChristianOccidental history. Yet, in his meditative paintings evoking Far Eastern philosophies such dualism no longer appears to exist. The borderline between 'The Self and the Known' becomes irrelevant, the yearning for 'The Infinite' being the underlying goal.Merging abstraction and figuration, materiality and texture results in a different, spiritual and yet sensuous perception of the 'Self versus Reality'. The special appeal of Achot Achot's works is just that, a reflection of this paradox. The game played by alternating materiality with spirit, by constructing, deconstructing and dissolving can also be observed in his sugar installations. The sugar cubes form the basis of fragile, dissolvable constructions which can become undone at any given moment and/or leave a trace of their absence - a void.

afactum, 2006, Installation with sugar cubes, details, ACCEA


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SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS <2007, “Passé présent, demain”, Musée départemental de Gap, France> <2006, "Méditations chromatiques", Museum of contemporary art, Yerevan> <"Afactum + 15", ACCEA, Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art," Point, ligne, méditation " Yerevan, "Binerf", Gallery Artcore, Paris> <2005, Gallery Artcore, Paris> <1999, Gallery TPG, Geneva, Suisse> SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS <2006, International Biennale of contemporary art, Gyumri, Armenia> <2005, "INDEPENDENCIA" Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin, Colombia", “EGO" Festival de performances, Medellin, Manizales, Colombia> <2004, "EGO" Festival international d'art contemporain, Ezanville, France> <2003, "Getting closer", IFA - Gallery, Bonn, Berlin, Germany> <2001,"Au-delà des icônes", National Gallery of Armenia, Yerevan> <"Art Bunker in Moskau", ZDH, Moscow, Russia> <2000, "Tentation céleste", Paris> <1995 "Stream of Fire", The Pharos Trust, Nicosia, Cyprus> <1993 "IDENTIFICATION", Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan> <1992, "9 - neuf", Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan > <1989 "666", Yerevan> <"Armenian avant-garde in Paris", Chapelle de la Salpêtrière, Paris> <1988,1st. festival of happenings, Anikstchaï, Lituanie> <1987, "3rd floor", Yerevan, Armenia> PUBLIC COLLECTIONS <Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin, Colombia, Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan, Armenia, Museum of the city of Panévégis, Lithuania, Center of Contemporrary Art of Gyumri,Armenia>

www.afactum.com

afactum, 2007, digital image, acrylic gel on wood, 58 x 39 cm


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afactum, 2006, digital image, acrylique gel on wood, 58,5 x 44,5 cm


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Emily Artinian Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1970, lives and works in London


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Dream, 1999, Card, paper, fishing line 10cm x 10cm, bound on all sides; open edition 29


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Exposure, 2000, Lucite box containing fragmented text, inkjet printed on transparencies;


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Emily Artinian was born to an Armenian father in Pennsylvania in 1970. She now lives in London. Her involvement with artist's books and text-based art is a recurrent theme of her work and can also be regarded as a reminiscence of the Armenian book culture and tradition. Emily Artinian's conceptual text works add visual expression to abstract language which in turn is often reduced to abstract language again. Her projects resemble translation processes, cryptic, arcane messages which need to be deciphered to grasp their true meaning. Her work "Exposure" of 2000, a small see-through box containing text fragments on transparent ground, is like a personal diary. The contents only becomes evident to the curious viewer once he arduously and painstakingly puts the pieces of this jigsaw together.The mysterious book "Dream" of 1999 altogether refuses access to the most intimate meaning of the words: All that is visibly there to fire the reader's imagination are an edited summary and some carefully selected associative words. "An intact and secret treasure" of 2001 is based on the "Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges with the meaning being generated from words that appeared in a tabloid in the course of one week. This work points at the difficulties we are confronted with nowadays when trying to decipher the significance and meaning of words contained in the sheer flood of information descending on us. Identity is thus tantamount to cryptography and difficult to decode.

Box: 8cm x 4cm x 4cm (left); text squares approx. 0.5cm2(detail); one-off object


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EDUCATION <1992 BA Russian Literature, Columbia University> <1995 MA Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University> <1997-1999 Apprenticeship at Peter Kruty Editions letterpress studio in New York> <2000 MA Honours, Book Art at Camberwell College of Art and Design, London> ARTISTIC PRACTICE <artist's books and text based art, with a focus on literature and literary theory: the work is an exploration of the boundary between visual art and the academic study of the humanities, in particular literary studies> RECENT ARTISTS BOOKS <From Ararat to Angeltown, a large format book developed from a collaboration with contemporary writers in Armenia, combining life-size photographs of writers at one of their regular meetings with new stories and poems translated into English for the first time. <The High Window, a film and accompanying artist's book about the experience of visualizing fiction> SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS <2007 Regenerator, Bristol, UK; Panorama of books of Western artists from Matisse to the 21st century, Taipei, Taiwan> <2006 Faction: Collected Works, University of the West of England, Bristol> <2005 Sense:Absence, Clerkenwell Green Association, London; Launch of From Ararat to Angeltown at Gartal, New York, NY> TEACHING AND OTHER ORGANISATIONS <Senior Lecturer, Chelsea College of Art and Design and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London> <Founding member of artists' group FACTION> <Founder of www.thestreamingbook.com, webcast interviews with artists working in the book form>

www.emilyartinian.com

An intact and secret treasure, 2001, collage on paper, 11 panels, 60 x 40 cm


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Detail


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Andrew Demirjian Springfield MA, USA, 1966, lives and works in the New York area


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Yerevan Conversations, 2002, videostill 35


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Andrew Demirdjian made the video "Yerevan dialogues" while he was in the Armenian capital on an artist-in-residence program. It is the story of a sensual discovery tour of today's Yerevan. He asks passers-by and residents "What does Yerevan smell like? What does Yerevan taste like? What does Yerevan feel like?" From these individual impressions and personal responses he compiled absurdly humorous statistics meant to scientifically prove and demonstrate subjective feelings about the city. In his recent videos the relationship between visual and aural elements is increasingly at the fore of his work. Just like a choreographer Andrew Demirdjian creates complex arrangements of images and sounds. The rhythm of image and sound is of prime importance in his four-part video "Rustle of Language" of 2006. It is with an ironic undertone that he demonstrates in this work how knowledge is gained by reading a diversity of texts identity is derived from interchangeable pieces and texts in the fields of art history, popular culture and children's books as well as scientific texts which are generally considered to portray the truth. The exchangeability and ambiguity of the texts also points to the growing predominance of all things visual in our daily life.

Rustle of Language, 2006, 4 channel video installation


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EDUCATION <2005 Hunter College, MFA Integrated Media Arts /1988 Clark University, BA Economics> <SOLO EXHIBITIONS> <2006,City Without Walls, New Media Project Room, Newark, NJ> <2005 LMAK Projects, Brooklyn, NY> <2004 Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ> <2003 Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdansk, Poland> <GRANTS AND RESIDENCIES> <2007,Experimental Television Center, Owego, NY Artist in Residence> <2006 Individual Artist Fellowship, NJ State Council on the Arts/Puffin Foundation Grant, Newark Museum Artist in Residence> <2005 First Prize, Overall Video Portfolio CUNY Arts Gala> <2004 Technology Fellowship, Hunter College, Steinhauer Mullins Scholarship, Hunter College> <2003 ArtsLink Grant for Individual Artists, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY> <2002 Center for Contemporary Art, Yerevan, Armenia> <SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS> <2006 Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin, TX> <2005 White Box Gallery, New York, NY> <2004 Gigantic Art Space, New York, Harvestworks, NY> <2002 National Academy of the Moving Image, Boston, MA>

www.AndrewDemirjian.com

Residence 2, 2004, videostills


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Dried Old McNuggett, 2004, mixed media (top); Yerevan Conversations, 2002, videostills


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Silvina Der Meguerditchian Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1967 | lives and works in Berlin


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Plug (2006), felt, wool, photo, 30 cm diameter 41


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Socket, 2006, Felt, photo on canvas, 30 cm diameter


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Silvina Der-Meguerditchian is the granddaughter of Armenian immigrants to Argentina and was born in Buenos Aires in 1967. She grew up in Argentina and now lives in Berlin. A recurrent theme of her work is the remembrance of the ethnic dislocation of the Armenian people and the genocide they suffered. She uses photographic memorabilia and official documents and merges them in her crochet collages into individual, often painful stories. Silvina Der-Meguerditchian ties a net. She connects the disparate, builds bridges between worlds apart or seeks a dialogue with the unknown. Her work "Connexion Obsession" is emblematic for this artistic fervour. Her main focus is always on the actual process of joining and dissolving, constructing and deconstructing identity. The installation "Dispread but Together" depicts fragments of the Armenian diaspora in Argentina, France and the US. Like a magnifying glass the artist captures moments, signs and traces of Armenian life. By randomly placing these documents of commemoration in the open space they become a caleidoscope linking the past, present and future. By contrast, her photographic work "Aleppo Presences" documents the presence and existence of Armenian culture in today's Aleppo. The search for traces, for "remnants" of Armenian culture today makes their actual loss even more painful. Silvina Der-Meguerditchian's work represents a type of mnemonics, namely the individual and collective art of commemoration.

Alep_S端leymaniye_01 (2006), photoprint, 60 x 100 cm


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SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS <2006, Siempreviva, Klosterruine, Berlin> <2005 RECONOCER, Galerie ELSI del RIO, Buenos Aires> <2004, The dream collection, Instituto Cervantes, Berlin> <2003, Galerie Raskolnikow, Dresden, A.L.M.A Museum, Boston, U.S.A> <2002, The textur of the identity, C.C. Recoleta, Buenos Aires> <2001, Subjektive Eindrucke, C.C. Borges, Buenos Aires> SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS <2007,Visual Dialog: under–construction, Mekhitarian Monastery, Venice, Reality Crossings,"Fotofestival Mannheim-LudwigshafenHeidelberg"> <2006, Art fair ARTEBA06 with Gallery Elsi del Rio, Buenos Aires, 9. Biennale Gyumri, Armenia/ Zona de Trânsito, Cervantes Institut de São Paulo, Zona efímera> <2005,Las lloronas del arte, Performance/Film with lab Berlin, Prima Center Gallery, Berlin, ARTEBA 05- Artfair, Buenos Aires, "The free will", Bunker in the Arena, Berlin Urban realities: Focus Istanbul, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, "Heimat: Inbetween", Hamburg, "Corrosión", Uberlandia, Brazil,"Always visible", Sao Paulo> <2004, Die Traumsammlung,Instituto Cervantes, Berlin, Evita: un Escudo, Senate from Buenos Aires, "Ciclo" with Imaginary Line, C.C. Sao Paulo, Brazil, Print Triennial, InExile, Center for Contemporary arts, Tallin, Eastland, Paradies Projekt, Kunstsalon, Berlin, Armenian linking, Prima Center Gallery, Berlin> <2003, ARVEST, Los Angeles> <RESIDENCES: ACCEA, Yerewan> PUBLIC COLLECTIONS <City of Buenos Aires, Collection of the American Embassy>

www.silvina-der-meguerditchian.de


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Dispread but together, 2007, installation approx. 350 x 600 cm photo transpher on textile


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Dahlia Elsayed New York, USA, 1969 | lives and works in the New York area


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Chance encounters (2006), 22" x 30" acrylic on paper 47


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The artist lives in the US. In her work writing and painting appear as two related processes complimenting each other. In her delicate paintings comprising text and images she creates mappings of her own inner self. Autobiographical and social experiences form the basis of her work resulting in an imaginary geography and phantasmajoric travel topography. Due to the precise descriptions of fictitious places and landscapes, the landscapes of the soul and dream world mapped out gain a certain idiosyncratic validity. In her works "A Long Layover" of 2005 or "Landlocked" of 2006 this is, however, offset again by pairing two virtually identical yet varying images of space. Dahlia Elsayed's imaginary mappings tell the story of dislocations and individual mementoes thereby representing the aesthetic matrix of cultural reality that today's immigrants are faced with. As in Emily Artinian's case, books play an important role in the artistic work of Dahlia Elsayed. The artist keeps a diary by writing, making collages and painting. In her books everyday experiences are transformed into visual images, personal memories are linked with collective ones to serve as tangible proof of the past.

First and last chance saloon, 2006, acrylic on paper, 45â&#x20AC;? x 80â&#x20AC;?


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EDUCATION < 1994 Columbia University School of the Arts, MFA Creative Writing - 1992 Barnard College, BA English, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa > SOLO EXHIBITIONS < 2006 Portlock Black Cultural Center, Lafayette College, Easton, PA > < 2005 Clementine Gallery, New York, NY (two person show) - Women's Studio Workshop, Rosendale, NY > < 2004 Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdansk, Poland > < 2003 Johnson & Johnson Corporate Art Gallery, NJ - The Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ > < 2002 Armenian Library and Museum of America, Watertown, MA > GRANTS AND RESIDENCIES < 2005 Rutgers Center for Innovative Printmaking, NJ - Headlands Center for The Arts, Sausalito CA > < 2004 NJ State Council on the Arts, Individual Artist Fellowship - Women's Studio Workshop, Rosendale NY, The Newark Museum > < 2003 ArtsLink Grant for Individual Artists - Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY > < 2002 Center for Contemporary Art, Yerevan, Armenia > PUBLIC COLLECTIONS < The Newark Museum - US Department of State, Art in Embassies - Johnson & Johnson Corporation - The Jersey City Museum Zimmerli Art Museum - Hunterdon Museum of Art - Montclair Art Museum - New Jersey State Museum >

www.dahliaelsayed.com

A delicate retreat, 2006, acrylic on paper, 40” x 30”


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Landlocked, 2006, acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30” (Detail)


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Archi Galentz Moscow, Russia, 1971 | lives and works in Berlin, Yerevan and Moscow


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Master exam, UdK Berlin, 1997

"The Black Garden" wall installation of 9 litho prints on canvas, 45 x 45 x 3 cm each 53


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view at "Getting closer", ifa-gallery, Berlin

"The Globe of the Land Hajk", 2003, wood, watercolour on paper 80 x 60 x 60cm


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Archi Galentz was born in Moscow in 1971. He comes from an Armenian family with a long history of painters and now lives and works in Berlin. A recurrent theme that is central to his artistic work is the question of Armenian identity, especially in relation to political factors such as the demise of the Soviet Union and the resurgence of Armenian awareness. This is also reflected in his artistic preoccupation with fictitious maps. He started to experiment with maps when he discovered a lithography stone dating back to the 1870s depicting a map of the environs of Berlin which no longer exist in this form. The fascination with this map showing specific details of a place forever lost inspired Archie Galentz to his three-dimensional work "Hajk" of 2003. The result is a paradox, a cube-shaped globe with drawings of imaginary state frontiers and nations. This work is also relevant to the question of a national Armenian identity. The artist designed numerous variations of one and the same map trying to find answers and/or develop positive examples of an imaginary Armenia in the process. "These maps symbolise the whole process of developing an identity and keeping it", Archie Galentz said. The search for a paradise lost as the central theme of Archi Galentz's work was already evident in "The Black Garden" of 1997 in which the aspect and use of colour were, however, key issues - painting as a medium to illustrate the condensation of life and the strategies for survival.

view at "Situated Self" MoCA, Belgrad

"My Bed Wall in Berlin", 2005, installation with a private art collection ap. 350 x 300 cm


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EDUCATION <1989, State University of Arts Yerevan, Armenia, 1992 University of Arts (UdK) Berlin, 1997 Masterclass degree> <SOLO SHOWS> < 2007 "Pose As A Position", The Club, Yerevan> <2006 "USTA, has you got some ASTAR?", Prima Center, Berlin> <2005 "This Days in 16 Years", Prima Center, Berlin> <2001 "Im Schwarzen Garden", S端dost Zentrum, Berlin> <2000 "Archi Galentz. Malerei" Gallery Taube, Berlin> <GROUP SHOWS> <2007 "Grand bleu", Artcore, Paris> <2006 "Don't be Scared", ACCEA, Yerevan, "5th International Gymri Biennale ", Armenia> <2005 "Situated Self ", MoCA Belgrade, Serbia and City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finnland, "ego, International Festival", MoCA Medellin, Columbia, "Focus Istanbul: Urban Realities", Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, "INTERNATIONAL", NCCA, Moscow> <2004 "Not In The Sky and Not On The Earth", MoCA Skopje, Macedonia, "Na Kyrort, Russian Art Today", Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden> <2003 "Flowers from no man's land", Gallery in Parlament, Berlin, "Paradies", Bunker Alexanderplatz, Berlin, "Getting Closer" ifa-Gallery, Berlin and Bonn> <2002 "Ostensiv", CAH Moscow, "Nativ Land - Fatherland", Malij Manej, Moscow, "Stop! Who Is Coming?", NCCA, Moscow> <2000 "EXPO 2000", Armenian Pavillon, Hannover, "2nd. International Gymri Biennale", Armenia> <1989 "Student Posters", Museum of National Art, Sardarabad, Armenia> COLLECTIONS <Museum of National Art, Sardarabad,Armenia, MoCA Skopje, Macedonia, MoCA Belgrade, Serbia, MoCA Medellin, Columbia><CURATED ><2007 "Dez'avju", Open University, Yerevan> < 2006 "Questioning Saro Galentz", Boyadjian Gallery, Yerevan>

www.ArchiGalentz.arrieregarde.org

"ArWest" 2006, atelier situation, Berlin


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view at "Im Black Garden" S端dOstZentrum, Berlin

"99 Tao Signs plus Stels Bomber", 2006, oil on canvas, gold frame, 65 x 85 cm


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Sophia Gasparian Yerevan, Armenia, 1972 | lives and works in Los Angeles


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Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not chat about despair, 1999, mixed media on paper 8" X 10" 59


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Help, 2006, acrylic on wood 20" X 16"

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Sophia Gasparian was born in the Soviet Republic of Armenia in 1972. At the age of 15 she emigrated with her parents to the US and now lives and works in Los Angeles. In her work she experiments with various artistic media such as collages, language and print as well as film and video. Sophia Gasparian's unconventional works combine the aesthetics of children's drawings or graffiti with quizzical, if not to say sarcastic social criticism. There is always a troubling, eerie, even brutal element in her drawings such as "See that my grave is kept clean" of 2004 or "Help" of 2004. The Armenian genocide is central to her mixed media collage "Why do Armenians stink?" and put into a wider historical and political context. The drawing "Let's not chat about despair" deals with the painful topic of remembrance and questions the impact this has on the existence of those generations experiencing the traumata of ethnic dislocation through the life and despair of their parents and grandparents. In her recent photographs the artist looks at the phenomena of a hybrid Armenian-US American culture and its potentially wide scope of life planning and identification possibilities.

See that my grave is kept clean, 2002, mixed media on board 12" X 15"


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EDUCATION <1999 San Francisco Art Institute, MFA Fine Art Filmmaking, 1995 University of California, Santa Cruz, BA Theater Arts/ Film/Video, GROUP EXHIBITIONS <2007 Genocide Poster Exhibit, Woodbury University Gallery, Burbank, CA - Women in the Arts: Reflections La Sierra University Division 9 Gallery Riverside, CA 2006 It Came from Beyond the Stars Monkeyhouse Gallery Los Angeles, CA - Chain, Letter High Energy Constructs Chinatown Los Angeles, CA Armenian Genocide Poster Exhibit UCLA Gallery, 2005 Up Close & Personal Southern California Women's, Art Caucus 2004 Los Angeles Municipal Gallery Open Call Lynn Zelevanski/LACMA Award 2003 VitVeersch installation Ishallah Gallery Los Angeles, CA 2002 Dia de los Muertos Altar Exhibit Avenue 50 Gallery, Highland Park, <CA COLLECTIONS> Center for the Study of Political Graphics TEACHING EXPERIENCE San Francisco Art Institute Extension Education Fine Art Filmmaking BIBLIOGRAPHY 2005 ArtTalk Magazine Discovering Ms.X:The Art World's Feminine Side>

www.sophiagasparian.com

Jump 2006 acrylic on wood 24" X 18"


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Orphan blues, 2006 acrylic on wood 20" X 16â&#x20AC;?


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Imprint

Edition underconstruction e V. Leonhardstr. 15 D-14057 Berlin Tel. 0049 30 32702400 Silvina_der@t-online.de www.underconstructionhome.net The copyrights for texts and pictures belong to the artists and authors. Design: Marula Di Como / Florencia Young Print: druckhaus köthen GmbH, Friedrichstr. 11/12, 06366 Köthen/Anhalt Curators: Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Barbara Höffer Production assistants: Ursula Mateo, Mirima de la Sierra Texts: Barbara Höffer, Marc Wrasse, Dr. Estela Schindel, Ali Akay, S. Der-Meguerditchian Editorial support: Emily Artinian Translations: Yvonne Schwarzig, Luis Sarabia Utrilla, Marga Zips, Christine Gardon We would like to thank all those who have helped make this project possible: Abbot Elia, Eliseo Djulian, Samuel Bagdasarian, Christoph Tannert, Sirje Helme, Marina Kalaidjian, Houry Youssouffian, Sabrina Williams, Joan Agajanian Quinn, Maria Inés Abrahamian, Concha Argüeso, Chus Lopez Vidal, Mark Wrasse, Oliver and Avedis Neehus, Jorge Vartparonian, Huberta von Voss, Gotthardt Schön.

supported by

THE MEKHITARIST CONGREGATION

F U N D A C I O N A R M E N I A


Profile for Under Construction

Underconstruction_ visual dialogue: Talking about identities in the Armenian Transnation  

Catalog of the presentation in the Isola di San Lazzaro at the 52. Venice Biennial by the artists platform www.underconstructionhome.net

Underconstruction_ visual dialogue: Talking about identities in the Armenian Transnation  

Catalog of the presentation in the Isola di San Lazzaro at the 52. Venice Biennial by the artists platform www.underconstructionhome.net

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