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    Art from different angles
    Manoir de la ville de Martigny (Switzerland)


    International group exhibition by artists from Armenia, France, Iran and


    Curators: Susanna Gyulamiryan (ACSL-Armenia)
    Alina Mnatsakanian (Switzerland)


    June 12- July 27, 2015


    ‘Come Closer’ is a freely launched collaborative initiative of curators and independent artists to bring segments of culture and contemporary art practices from Switzerland, France, Armenia and Iran closer to the public at large. The project consists of a series of touring exhibitions and art events. The idea started with two artists of Armenian origin, living in the Diaspora: one in France, Edmond Habetian, and the other in Switzerland, Alina Mnatsakanian. The initial idea was to present interactive works, performances and installations, with the idea of approaching the local public in Armenia. Armenians, born outside of Armenia, the two artists felt that the Diaspora Armenians are considered as half-strangers for the locals and they wanted to change that feeling of “otherness”; they wanted to impose themselves and to fill the gap. Alina Mnatsakanian took the idea a little farther by inviting other Swiss artists to participate in the exhibition, total-strangers or “others” this time! To create collaboration on the conceptual and artistic level Susanna Gyulamiryan, a curator from Armenia, was invited to participate for the second part of the exhibition which happens now in the Manoir of Martigny and in 2017 in the Contemporary Art Center Ticino (CACT) in Bellinzona. Gyulamiryan invited the art collective Art Laboratory, artists Diana Hakobian from Armenia and Raffie Davtian – an Armenian from Iran. As far as the notion of the “other” serves as one of the stimulant arguments in launching the project “Come Closer” in its initial stage in Armenia*, here is important to represent the institutional ideology of the State in nowadays post-Soviet Armenia which adopted the dominant top-to-bottom fictive rhetoric to unify Diaspora’s and local Armenians under the slogan “one nation- one culture” and placed it in the ranks of ‘untouchable cultural treasures’. While the recent and ongoing changes in concept of identity mirror the dramatic and decisive changes, maintaining that identities are relational and defined by similarities and differences with “others” on individual, geographical, geopolitical and broader cultural levels. The contemporary intellectual and artistic scene of post-Soviet Armenia where the role of artists is noticeably ‘marginal’ for State institutions (here the metaphor of ‘margin’ is used in a positive sense) – has been opposing to the essentialist formulas of ‘national’ and/or nationalistic re-evaluation of culture. **

    The project ‘Come Closer’ does not serve exactly for the notion of identities, neither on concepts of ‘otherness’ or ‘difference’ on the level of every separately taken art work in the exhibition, however both the above mentioned concepts are disguised components in the translation and perception that are inevitably present in the ‘cultural dialogs’ and the economy of domination-subordination in the concept of ‘otherness’. The latter mainly serves the interests of the dominant cultural discourses. The difference between the ‘other’ and the diverse is regarded to be ideological and not logical, as being the ‘other’ in the contemporary culture means being subjected to dispossession and unequal irrespective of the fact that the ‘other’ is in a dominant or subordinate position, on the other hand, being ‘diverse’ means being equal, but different.

    ‘Come Closer’ mainly proclaims the importance to show ‘differences’ on artistic thinking and actions, different tendencies of artists’ beliefs, positions, concepts, and modes of representations that in contrary to the ‘cultural norms’ create an independent filed of artistic experiences. The important point for the project’s organizers and artists is the task of establishing a collateral and collaborative platform of individual artistic approaches and collective production of meanings with respect to facilitating ‘closeness’ towards the inter-personal, international communication among the artists and the public, to become a space for a collective visual and discursive platform and a discussion space serving the purpose of producing new meanings, knowledge, experiments, and social and artistic constellations.

    The exhibition consists of multiple spectra of self-presentations and socio-political manifestations within different paradigms of contemporary art.
    Catherine Aeschlimann has a personal vision of the cities and the every day life. While creating her works in public spheres, she gets closer to the city by paying attention to details, she also creates links with the public who sometimes become participants. Pier Giorgio De Pinto, a transmedia artist, combines the virtual and the real through his interactive installation. The public participates and becomes part of the art by constanly altering it. The Armenian alphabet and fragments of the Armenian culture are part of the installation. Edmond Habetian presents a philosophical contemplation on life and identity through another performance. Alina Mnatsakanian’s art is a reflection of a Diasporan person, a person with multiple cultural influences and a “world citizen” attitude. She presents an installation where the public’s participation is premordial. After his every-day participative performance at the Museum of Modern Art of Yerevan in 2014*,Geneviève Petermann gets closer to her subjects and shatters borders formally and intellectually. The human being is omnipresent in her works, sometimes as a whole, but not always. Her intellectual appraoch complimented with a humoristic touch gives her masterfully executed paintings an original vision. Josette Taramarcaz’ knows how to listen. The sculptor, who presented an installation of 280 ears made of wax in Armenia*, now creates a sound installation as a result of her interactions with the locals. Intimate conversations sharing life stories and thoughts. Raffie Davtian problematizes the intersection of art, gender, sexuality and power, and their connection with politics and masculine power, personified in male physiology. The problematisation boundaries between art and the personal, with reflections on the border of intimacy, personal narratives and social imperatives are present in the work of Diana HakobianThe Art Laboratory art collective’s activities peer into traumatic reality and resistance against the powerful regime in nowadays Armenia. They are far more courageous, far more uncompromising, and far more unflagging in their attitude for matters of civil rights and social justice. The video installation of the Art Laboratory invites the audience to come closer to those realities in the country that this time concerns of a series of political and criminal murders. The same time the minimalist visuality of the video installation appears as an “empty sign” that, at first glance, symbolizes the post – election apathy in Armenian society in 2012 – another serial unfair election in the country that taking local people to despair, however the installation refers more to the criticism than the hopelessness.

    We invite the wider audience: public at large and art professionals from Switzerland or elsewhere to stand closer to our initiative and inter-act, communicate and reflect on the different aspects and concepts of international artistic practices.


    *The first phase of the exhibition took place at the Yerevan Museum of Modern Art in October 2014 with the participation of Catherine Aeschlimann, Geneviève Petermann and Alina Mnatsakanian from Neuchâtel, Josette Taramarcaz from Valais, Pier Giorgio de Pinto from Ticino and Edmond Habetian from France.
    ** It is worth mentioning that Armenia has been a member to the European Council for several years now and is linked in a manifold of ways to the developments underway within the European Union. At the same time, however, the relations between the EU and Armenia remain rather formal, making the prospects of Armenia’s entry into the European family highly uncertain.


    Performance Art as a Tool for Democracy


      series of  workshops led by Denisas Kolomyckis (Lithuania-Portugal)

      July 9, 10, 2014



      actor and dancer: Denisas Kolomyckis

      video and documentation: Luís Carvalho

      duration: 40 minutes

      The Small Theater/The Armenian National Center of Aesthetics

      11 Abovyan str., Yerevan, Armenia

      July 21, 2014 (no fee for the entrance)


      As a partner organization of the RAIZVANGUARDA Cultural Association based in in Gois (Portugal), the Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory (ACSL) collaboratively organized series of workshops  entitled ‘Performance Art as a Tool for Democracy’ led by denisas Kolomyckis, co-workers Luis Carvahlo and Inesse and a performance ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by an artist Denisas Kolomyckis on a stage of the Small Theater (Poqr Tatron) of the National Center of Aesthetics (NCA), Armenia.

      The aim of the workshops is to establish a working and collaborative platform with artistic and non-artistic communities with introducing them the idea of Performance Art, and promoting their own power for an active society. During the workshops, participants will have the opportunity to create their own interpretations, producing new ideas that will be tested during the workshops. Other artistic disciplines were introduced, being taken as a starting point for a critical thinking and artistic improvisation. The objective is to demonstrate the possibility of achieving social change through the use of artistic tools.

      The series of workshops embraced the students of the Art College (NCA), artists of the Small Theater and group of MA students of the Institute of of theater and Cinematography/department of Scenography and theater directing.

      The RAIZVANGUARDA and ACSL will continue that reciprocal collaboration in Portugal in a frame of new body of projects which are in the stage of processing and developing and will take place in 2015.

      Workshops 1:  Performance Art as a tool for Democracy

      The aim of this workshop is to introduce participants to the Performance Art, promoting their own power for an active society. During this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to create their own interpretations, producing new ideas that will e tested during the workshop. Other artistic disciplines will be introduced, being taken as a starting point for a critical thinking and artist improvisation. The objective is to demonstrate the possibility of achieving social change through the use of artistic tools.

      Duration: 8 hours (09h30-13h00/14h-18h30)


      Workshops 2:  Body – The link between art and society

      This workshop has the objective to show the participants the importance of their body by demonstrating the capabilities of motion and composition skills as well as the development of critical thinking, combined with the creativity of expression. Through this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to create their own choreography and perform it. Duration: 6 hours (10h-13h/14h-17h) Language : Russian (Armenian translation if needed).




      Performance by Denisas Kolomyckis



      ‘The Portrait of Dorian Gray’ is a multidisciplinary synthesis of the work of Oscar Wilde, that incorporates elements of theater, contemporary dance, music, sound and visual arts. The novel was adapted for an actor/ dancer who will recreate all the characters through voice, body, movement and music. The performance will include numerous multicultural expressions: traditional dances, language, music, sounds and video, which reflect human creativity and are measured in many fields of cultural heritage. It will be focused in Portuguese, Lithuanian and Armenian culture. Festivities, rituals, oral traditions, weddings, funerals and multicultural festivities will be addressed from the work.

      Contemporary dance plays a crucial role in performance. Through body, ordered and highly complex movements will illustrate specific events of the novel. Dance is a language for the spectators, and through natural movements, homoeroticism, narcissism, seduction, beauty and gratification the novel will be present. The performance  addresses s issues such as multiculturalism, art as a tool for democracy, LGBT rights and human rights. All performances in Armenia will be recorded and documented. They will be posted online for the general public.


      Denisas Kolomyckis
      is an interdisciplinary, performance artist, dancer and director. Worked with Lithuanian director Sarunas Bartas and avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas in New York. He has presented his works in USA, Russia and many other European countries. Denisas is an activist for human and LGBT rights and he has been awarded with the prize for the Youngest Lithuanian Volunteer in 2006. In 2013, Denisas Kolomyckis spoke on the international platform TEDx about “Performance Art as a Tool for Critical Approach”.

      Luís Carvalho graduated in Sound and Image by Escola Superior de Arte das Caldas da Rainha, where he studied Cinema and Photography. In 2012/2013, Luís Carvalho participated in a European volunteer program in South Caucasus, having lived in Gyumri. In Armenia, he worked in youth initiatives, organized art events and within the non-formal education, studied the Armenian language and culture.


      This project funded by Galouste Gulbenkian Foundation
      with support and partnership  of the ACSL,  Lithuanian Embassy in Armenia, Youth Initiative Centers in Gois and Yerevan and others.

      Special Thanks:

      The Armenian National Center of Aesthetics and its “Small Theater”

      Vahan Badalyan (artistic director of the “Small Theater”)

      Samvel Baghdasaryan (dean of the Department of Fine Arts at the Armenian Open University)

      Liana Khachatryan (coordinator of the Department of Fine Arts at the Armenian Open University)

      Mountain Project

        Antoinette Nausikaä, 1973 Vlissingen NL, is an Amsterdam based visual artist. She studied visual arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and in 2009 and 2010 she participated in a two-year Residency program at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.

        She works with the media drawing, photography, video and sculpture. Her presentations are spatial narrative installations and publications. She uses the human figure as her starting point.

        Observing human presence, particularly our universal behavior and emotions in relation to the immediate environment are central in her work. Antoinette Nausikaa’s work is always site specific and immediate of nature.

        Antoinette grew up in a family where all members are aerial photographers. As a child she sat in the back of the plane, watching her parents shooting their photographs. She watched as they circled around their objects, approaching them from all perspectives, to take pictures. Her own way of working probably has its roots there in her youth.  Antoinette uses a kind of helicopter perspective and circles around her subject, zooming in and zooming out. She does not have a fixed position.

        Steering through these various layers of the subject provides a variety of perspectives, from observing in the distance to embracing the little things around her.

        Antoinette Nausikaa is in Yerevan as part of a project she is doing on sacred mountains worldwide. Earlier this year she worked for 2 months on and around Mount Olympus/Greece and now she is traveling around Mount Ararat (Armenia, Iran, Turkey).

        She is mainly interested in the relationship and connection between mountains and the people living around it, and specifically how apparently local and temporal particularities express universal and timeless emotions that define the very core and fabric of human existence.

        Mountain project

        Antoinette Nausikaa is in Yerevan to evolve a project she has been doing on sacred mountains worldwide. Earlier this year she worked for 2 months on and around Mount Olympus/Greece and now she is traveling around Mount Ararat (Armenia, Iran, Turkey).

        She is mainly interested in the relationship and connection between mountains and the people living around it, and specifically how apparently local and temporal particularities express universal and timeless emotions that define the very core and fabric of human existence.

        Art and Engagement // Art and Gender

          Art & Engagement // Art & Gender

          Public lectures by Mirjam Westen (Netherlands)

          Mary Beth Edelson, Death of Patriarchy/A.I.R 1976 afische

          The Club, Tumanyan 40, Yerevan

          June 5, 2014


          The entire body of lectures consisted of two independent parts with the following topics: Art & Engagement and Art & Gender .

          The topic ‘Art & Engagement’ discussed works by international artists that deal with political and social issues through temporary interventions in public space and/or through long term projects in neighborhoods. The focus will be on artists who exploit the autonomy of art in order to create a new space that is literally “rooted”, interwoven, with the social here and now.

          The ‘Art & Gender’ explored how artists deal with the issue of gender on the one hand, and on the other hand it will analyse how the feminist art movement has influenced art institutions in their exhibition policies.


          Mirjam Westen is a curator, critic and editor in the field of contemporary art, gender and global art. Her essays and reviews have been published in journals, art magazines and catalogues. She recently curated Prospects & Concepts with work by 90 young artists (Van Nelle, Rotterdam), the international group show Threads and a solo presentation of Esiri Erheriene-Essi, titled Don’t Support the Greedy. She organized Female Power (Arnhem 2013), rebelle. Art & Feminism 1969-2009. (Arnhem 2009) and was co-curator of A chacun sa grace. Femmes Artistes en Belgique et aux Pays-Bas 1500-1950 (Antwerp 1999-Arnhem 2000).

          Working as a senior curator of contemporary art in the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem (NL), she has curated numerous exhibitions from 1991 to the present day, amongst others, Kara Walker (2002), Emily Jacir (2003), Lida Abdul (2006), Regina Galindo (2007), Berni Searle (2011), Heidi Sincuba (2011) and Alicia Framis (2013). In addition to her curatorial and writing activities, she gives lectures. She is member of AICA and of the International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art (IKT). Mirjam Westen is based in the Netherlands.



          The lectures was provided with simultaneous translation (English-Armenian)

          This event is initiated by ACSL and funded by the ‘Mondriaan’ Foundation (Netherlands)


          Urban Non-Places

            Urban non-places

            Teresa Leung

            public talk and screening

            Art laboratory – Open Platform-Space

            Hr. Qochar 13, studio 20

            Yerevan, Armenia

            May 30, 2014

            Teresa Leung explores art-as-responses to urban situations and creates shared-experiences by involving people as collaborators. Most of her recent works reflect her interest in space of urban non-places such as harbor front and highways, its possible functions, and people’s interaction with it. In addition, involving people as equal collaborators in participatory projects allows her to demonstrate that art is an experience. A graduate from the MA in Fine Arts program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Leung exhibited her works in Bulgaria, Berlin, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Spain, Slovenia, and the UK. For more information of her practice, please visit: Teresa Leung lives and works in Hong Kong.

            The project that Teresa Leung has been following up in Armenia is on urban space which gives a glimpse of what a city is undergoing. She comes from a city that strives for more economic growth and is constantly hungry for financial success. Thus, urban space in this city can change anytime to accommodate new, revenue-growing projects—new luxurious apartments, new infrastructure—while city dwellers have to give way to the process of commercialization and gentrification as ‘more important undertakings’. During her three-month stay in Yerevan a core goal of Teresa Leung is exploration of the post-Soviet urban space and everyday life with traces of the history through visual, archival research with stressing interactions with local artists,  communities, and the city’s neighborhood. This process and art works to come out of it will be shown publicly in various forms including videos, photographs, and documentation of a participatory project.

            ‘I believe by living in a different city I could reflect on my experience as an urban dweller and how I might respond to urban life as an art practitioner.’