Dialogues about Revolution and Power

  • Dialogues about Revolution and Power. The Voice of Queer Feminist Activists and Scholars in Conjunction with the Feminist Art from Armenia

    Curator: Susanna Gyulamiryan

    Narine Araкelian
    Gayane Ayvazyan
    Ruzanna Grigoryan
    Lousine Navasartian
    Tamar Shirinian
    lusine talalyan
    Anna Zhamakochyan

    Guest artist: Armine Kalentz

    Wolf&Galentz Gallery (Berlin, Germany)
    August 14 – September 15, 2019

The project ‘Dialogues about Revolution and Power’ is dedicated to all the women that have been the invincible participants, initiators, and organizers of political and civil protests, struggles, and resistance in Armenia for more than two decades. It is dedicated to the people who have formed and directed women’s movements, founded queer feminist discourses, and defined paths for the development of critical thinking in a country where the public recognition of women’s achievements is still camouflaged by patriarchal ideology and dominant interpretations based on the idea of male supremacy.

One of the important features of the project is the articulation of female artists’ activism in Armenian, which tends to keep up with the political, civil, social, and feminist movements. In turn, political and feminist activism borrows and applies methods from artistic practices such as performances, actions, manifests, and so on.

Thе impulse toward politicization paved a way for highly-motivated female artists, who
gained strength and momentum to break out of the spaces limited to the field of art. Ideas of autonomy, political commitment, and enthusiasm for breaking into streets and public spaces were promoted and nurtured. There was an unearthed conjunction between the political and the aesthetical, between the female artists and feminist activists who, together, did not hesitate to act and struggle against injustice present in the country, cultivating concepts, actions, and notions to contribute to political and social reforms in Armenia.

A part of the project presents the video series entitled ‘Dialogues about Revolution and Power,’ which consists of critical reflections and artistic manifestations by female experts, scholars, and feminist and queer activists from Armenia – Gayane Ayvazyan, Ruzanna Grigoryan, Anna Zhamakochyan, and Anna Nikoghosyan – on the topic of the 2018 Armenian revolution, which, according to some of the participants, was rather a regime change than a revolution.

The project also presents the video documentation of Narine Arakelian’s reenactment of the notorious women’s disobedience action ‘Cast Iron Pots and Pans’ in the public spaces of Venice, engaging over 50 women volunteers. This video series makes up the central part of the Armenian Pavilion of the 58th International Art Exhibition, La biennale di Venezia (2019). The three-part project of the pavilion curated by Susanna Gyulamiryan is an artistic and analytical representation of the of the Armenian revolution of 2018. It brings together artists, scholars, and activists to reproduce the revolutionary events and reflect on them.

The video series also includes an analysis by anthropologist, scholar, and specialist on Women’s and Gender Studies Tamar Shirinian. She presents the dynamics of the development of women’s and feminist movements starting from the early Soviet period until the post-Soviet 1990s, reviewing the role of these movements in the context of their ‘negotiations’ with the authorities and state institutions.

Artist lusine talalyan presents the feminist call that emphasizes her position, ‘The woman is owner-less,’ as well as the trans-formed and dis-armed image of Mother Armenia during a shame-less orgasm. (The statue of Mother Armenia in Yerevan is an image of a masculine woman holding a sword. Such a patri-archal presentation through certain formal and stylistic attributes is identified with or symbolizes the power, and some researchers call such creatures ‘matri-archal’). Another image presented by talalyan as ‘becoming in_visibile’ is a reflection of multiple sets of questions regarding the visibility and invisibility of women, their relationships with one another, the values placed upon their desires by the society as well as about the politics of remembrance and the possibilities of memory.

The two graphic works by Lusine Navasardyan are about the consequences and ‘wounds’ of the ideological and physical struggle of the Armenian civil activists.

Alongside the exhibition, Soviet Armenian paintrees Armine Galentz’s series of women’s portraits was presented. This series is, among other things, a tribute to Armine Galentz’s life and artistic path, where the diversity of gender conflicts was closely intertwined with gender struggles. However, as opposed to other Soviet Armenia women artists, Armine Galentz did not hesitate to describe in her memoirs the dominating posture of masculinity and its methods of subjugating women in art.

The project does not claim to demonstrate the whole power of women’s movements in Armenia and the complete picture of feminist manifestations in art and activism. It however articulates the viewpoint according to which, in recent political life of Armenia, women’s movements and political activism in conjunction with feminist art have been among the most dynamic, decisive, and effective processes in the country.

Participants’ biographies can be found here.