Constanze Muller (Germany)
Eriz Moreno Aranguren (Spain)
Guillermo Maneul Rojas Aguilera (Spain)
Artistic director: Susanna Gyulamiryan
Modern Art Museum, Yerevan
May 13-23, 2014
The Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory presented projects of its two Spanish resident artists and a curators, which were incorporated into a single exhibition space. During the implementation of the projects questions regarding the role of contemporary art arose quite often. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben claims regarding the notion of “contemporary” that to be contemporary is to fix our gaze upon the DARKNESS of our age, and we have to be in time for the appointment with the realities of this darkness. According to art critic Terry Smith, “contemporary” is a series of endless social injustices, while another art critic Christine Ross claims, “contemporary artists are interested in the revelation of the possibilities of the remainders of the past and using them as a tool for resisting and reorganizing of the contemporary life.”
All three projects are related to the realities of “contemporary” Armenia and are based on “involuntary memories” and rethinking and representation of events. Characteristically, the differences among the projects coincide with current debates regarding the role of contemporary art. One of the calls that can be often heard during these debates is for exhausting and overcoming the relative diversity of works of art about the “present moment”, where it seems that there is no difference between styles and beliefs, and for turning to a more acute, politicized stance in the art, looking into the future to understand how and where we seek to reach. Both the first and second tendencies are present in the projects by Guillermo Aguilera Rojas, Eriz Moreno Aranguren, and Constaze Muller, with participation of Armenian artists, civil activists, theorists, critics, and art students. The thought that artists can help us see the schemes for rethinking, transforming our world allows assuming that contemporary art continues to excite some and make them curious.
The exhibition is organized by ACSL with support of the Modern Art Museum of Yerevan and Mekhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex.
EUROPEAN COMMENCEMENTS # ARMENIA
Curator and Mediator: Constanze Muller
Editor: Eriz Moreno Aranguren
discussions, workshops/artzine, exhibition
Art Laboratory (artists’ collective)
Karen Alekyan (artist)
Lala Aslikyan (civil activist)
Susanna Gyulamiryan (cart curator, critic)
Vardan Jaloyan (cultural critic)
Arevik Martirosyan (civil activist, sociologist)
Varham Martirosyan (writer, publicist)
Vahram Soghomonyan (political scientist)
The project EUROPEAN COMMENCEMENTS is an editorial project of creating a publication in each country of the political (not only geographical) “border” of Europe, following the political and cultural concept of Europe. The aim is to cooperate with local artists, intellectuals, curators and designers on re-thinking and picturing the cultural identity, cultural constructions and the contemporary art scene of each country. At the same time, the project offers a participative-discursive platform to artists, intellectuals and cultural workers from each published country, which also supports to establish democratic procedures. The approach is not to set a foreign view to the country, but to offer a local perspective, that gives a stronger and realistic impact of every country´s social, political and cultural awareness and art scenes. The concept of the magazine will follow the idea of a platform as a format to give a “space” of discourse, reflection and expression with the tools of art. The project offers a reflective new way to question about cultural identity, combining approaches from the fields of mediation, sociology and cultural studies with multiple procedures of the contemporary art. It opens the views to nearly unknown historical, political and cultural present situations in the countries of the border of Europe seen from the art perspective. Following this process, the project explores new ways of mediation and of expression in the publication format. The result of the working process in each country will be a magazine, which is going to be presented and distributed creating a network between the participating and other European countries. #ARMENIA EUROPEAN COMMENCEMENTS publication project starts with Armenia. The emerging identity and cultural conflicts of Armenia are hardly grown because of the country’s historical, political and social transformations nowadays. From the Western-European perspective, the stereotypical and oriental perception of Armenia is often considered as adventurous and exotic. As a former Soviet Socialist Republic, Russian influence in politics and society is still strong even if aspirations for independence created a democratic society in 1990’s. In June 2010 associational negotiations between the EU and Armenia started, as this part of the “Eastern Partnership” strive Armenia as part of the European cultural area integrated in the States Partnership. Nevertheless, the influence of Russian interests in 2013 let Armenia signed a gas supply agreement with Russia, which approximates the country to the co-founder of Russia Eurasian Customs Union with Russia and other associated states.
PROCESS Local artists and intellectuals of different age generations are invited to take part in workshops using initiative, discursive and reflexive interview methods. In Armenia the questioning focuses in the terms of the current cultural, political and social situation due to historical and current developments in the society. All participants were asked to enrich the workshop’s discussions with personal inputs and to create artworks or statements. Further wards all will be published in the magazine. The exhibition shows the project with different elements as a project in progress, pointing out several issues concerning the project`s idea: videos from the workshops document the discursive polemics and discussions. Relicts of political actions as well as stencils by artists and civil, feminist activists, documenting the political and artistic energy concerning Armenia`s current debate. Created in an interview, Karen Alekyan shows his artwork about the new picture of the world in “The maps of Future or Geographic developments”.
Constanze Muller is curator and co-founder of the art association D21 Kunstraum Leipzig e.V.. She graduated the College of Graphic design at the School of Arts, Technics and Construction and later held Mastership at University of Leipzig, Department of Pedagogics: Art and German.
She went through the practice of internship in the Center of Contemporary Art „Łaźnia”, Gdansk (PL) and combine her curatorial practice with teaching Art in Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff-Gymnasium, Chemnitz.
Guillermo Manuel Rojas Aguilera (Spain)
multimedia installation (video, objects, painting)
In many countries people use the expression that “thing has many angles” when they want to talk about something that is complicated, or is problematic and inconvenient.
In architecture the angles represent always a problem to solve as an encounter between two elements, and the quality of an architect can be measured by the way s/he solves this intersection.
In urbanism corners mean superposition, conflict and danger, and they also generate diversity.
After months of living and research in a post-Soviet reality, the Armenian actual situation, seen through the eyes of a Spanish artist, depicts surrounded by “angles”.
(Acute) angles are present in Armenian politics as primarily extreme self-will power, in economic and commercial monopolism, and in the huge social and economic inequality between common people and small elite.
The strategic importance substructures of Armenia passed into the hands of Russia; it is not unnecessary to stress that many other social and political distortions in the country increasingly influenced by the Russia.
Gender angels” also show up the situation of Armenian women and identical minorities, living inside an unfair patriarchal society.
Cultural “angles” almost ignores and doesn’t encourage any innovative inputs in art, literature, dance and theatre.
The “Angular projections” is a multidisciplinary work, and its aims are to point to the problematic situation in Armenia through symbolism and iconographic images which constitute metaphors.
Guillermo Manuel Rojas Aguilera after some early developing of skills in plastic arts began architecture studies and got the degree of architect. He spent several years working as an architect, interior designer and graphic designer, for different studios in Granada and Murcia Spain, then he returned to his artistic vocation in 2009 studying drawing, painting, sculpture, engraving, photography and cinema at the Universities of Granada and University Paris 8. In 2013 he continued developing his professional career as a multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker and photographer in Berlin Germany, through many collaborative works.
Eriz Moreno Aranguren (Spain)
installation (ready-made, documentation)
The project ARARAT by Eriz Moreno Aranguren started with journeys to countries that are located near the Mount Ararat area. However, Armenia has been the main platform for artist’s research, where, following the style adopted in photography, the artist created persistently repeating images of Mount Ararat. Unfortunately, the implemented part of the photo series could not be included in the exhibition due to technical issues (the photos are taken on film, which makes the printing quite difficult in Armenia). On the other hand, the cultural representations related to Mount Ararat, with highly simplified, often vulgarized, clichéd imagery, came to artist’s attention. The nationalist rhetoric, the notion of “inviolable national value” weaken the geopolitical, analytical, critical efforts in favor of everyday mythology and kitschy souvenirs of “Ararat”. The iconic and symbolical use of both Ararat and Japanese Mount Fuji with other similar “national values” have been shaping in the body of national state rhetoric-ism are problematic, as they conjoin the relations among the real, the sacral, and the “practical-mythological”.
Eriz Moreno is a visual artist from Bilbao. He accomplished his thesis of master of Fine Arts at the University of La Laguna. The recent years of his activities were busy with realizing site specific ‘investigations’/ projects in Macau, Athens, London, USA, Germany and Poland and in various places in Spain combined with meticulous research of symbolical and geo-political meaning of site-scape. Moreno’s projects were also introduced publicly in form of solo shows in Spain, Germany, USA and Poland.