Queer, Feminist International Festival # 1 | Feminism CorpoReal

  • Curator: Susanna Gyulamiryan
    Co-curator: FemLibrary ArmeniaExhibition IGoethe-Zentrum Eriwan (Goethe-Center Yerevan)

    Exhibition I

    March 10 – April 5, 2022

    Artists: 
Arpi Balyan (Armenia), Hripsime Ghazanchyan (Armenia), Anush Ghukasyan (Armenia), Anna Grigorian (Canada), Diana Hakobyan (Armenia), Armine Hovhannisyan (Armenia), Karine Matsakyan (Armenia), Valentina Maz (Armenia-Egypt), lucine tiaalalyan (Armenia), Tsomak (Armenia-Sweden)

    Exhibition II

    Cafesjian Center for the Arts (CCA), Sasuntsi Davit Garden Gallery, Yerevan

    April 15 – May 22, 2022

    Artists:
 Gayane Cholakyan (Armenia), Anush Ghukasyan (Armenia), Armine Hovhannisyan (Armenia), Inna Kolupaeva (Armenia), Karine Matsakyan (Armenia), lucine tiaalalyan (Armenia), Manan Torosyan (Armenia)

The preeminence of dominant male-chauvinist interpretations of women’s art endured for so many long years that it established a massive grip on the pages of Soviet-Armenian cultural historiography. This ‘state of the art’ perpetuated its unquestioned legitimacy up until approximately the second half of the post-Soviet 1990s; a period that marked the abandonment of the grand Soviet narratives and compulsory topics, and saw the introduction of feminist and gender studies, which in their critical conceptual insights allowed deconstructions within the traditional apparatus of thought and in the methodological presuppositions underlying the prevailing, patriarchal art history discourses. This momentum also opened a door for some particularly interested female artists, curators, and critics in Armenia to pursue a new agenda of cultural and critical analysis of self determinations as well as new politics of representation which, among other things, was also calibrated around the conceptual nexus of ‘woman and gender,’ ‘woman and feminism’ and queerness. Female artists got a chance to change the traditional way female bodies were used as requisites in male works, and to bring forth questions related to politics of subjectivity and (self)representation. The paradigm of speaking with one’s own body was noticed in Armenia’s women’s art since the 2000s, manifested through the play, subversion and deconstruction of the traditional codes representing the naked body along with developments in the practices of discussing gender and feminism as an object of epistemological effort and protection of social, political commitment; the body ceases to be a mere spectacle but is transformed into an object of research.
The first stage of the festival is launched with a series of exhibitions where the corpo (corps) bodily polymorphism of the installations, objects, photo-objects and video materials by female artists is ‘organized’ as a corpus of female subjectivity in which the imaginary of self-identification is problematized, the personal mechanism of deep emotional feelings of the self which is permanently forced to be annexed to the systems of limitations and oppression, sex- and gender-based exclusion, violence, subjugation and all social consequences they result in.
Parallel to the art exhibitions, several public talks and discussions will take place to bridge women’s art, philosophical thought and political activism, traditionally and purposefully seen in the local context as separate from each other, as well as to discover the past of Armenian feminism and link it with contemporary feminist developments. This double bridge can resignify the forms, and the locus of feminist resistance and expose the unboundedness of its own potentiality.

The Queer, Feminist festival is dedicated to all the women’s artists, queer, feminist activists and scholars that have been the invincible participants, initiators, and organizers of political and civil protests, struggles, and resistance in Armenia and abroad for more than two decades. It is dedicated to the women who have formed, participated and directed women’s movements, founded queer feminist discourses, and defined paths for the development of critical thinking in the countries where the public recognition of queer communities, women’s achievements are still camouflaged by patriarchal ideology and dominant interpretations based on the idea of male supremacy.

Тhе festival first started in 2022 with a firm intention of taking place every year. The artistic works carried out in the framework of the festival cover the period from the 1990s to present days, as “recent debates in the field of contemporary art have underlined the political importance of creative reworkings of the past, especially for those subjects that have been traditionally marginaliszd.” Therefore, the retrospective nature of the exhibitions and historical studies will serve as an impetus for the creation of an archive that will include not only the historiography of art but also the activist movement from the queer, feminist perspectives.

The warm heartfelt thanks go to the Goethe-Zentrum Eriwan, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts (CCA- Yerevan), FemLibrary Armenia, the members of the Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory (ACSL -Armenia), and Studio 20 (Armenia) for its technical support.