Taking Positions: Identity Questioning

  • Exchange Program with Artistic Research, Talks, Residency, and Exhibition

    Artists: Karen Andreasyan (Armenia), Sabina Grasso (Italy), Armine Hovhannisyan (Armenia), Angela Zurlo (Italy)

    Curators: Susanna Gyulamiryan (Armenia), Aria Spinelli (Italy)

    Yerevan, Florence, Turin, Venice, Milan
    April 3-May 27, 2013

‘Taking Positions: Identity Questioning’ is an artistic research project with vector directed to the social functionality of artistic practices and the construction of cultural identities. The project is curated by Susanna Gyulamiryan and Aria Spinelli (Italy) and promoted by FARE (Milan) and Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory – ACSL. Thought for experimenting the art residency format and deepening the significance of cultural exchanges through the shared experience of questioning, the project is part of the larger framework of artinresidence.it, that promotes and supports International Exchange, developed in collaboration with Open Care and with the support of Fondazione Cariplo, NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano (Dipartimento di Arti Visive) e GAI – Associazione Circuito Giovani Artisti Italiani.

‘Taking Positions: Identity Questioning’ is initiated through the hypothesis that both the Armenian and Italian context are living through a similar cultural paradox: a rapid advancement contrasted by a traditional society, mixed with a lack of infrastructure capable of supporting the artistic class. In times of social disorder and political uncertainty, the social position of the artist is often based on a set of values that are not shared collectively. Within this curatorial structure which is thought mainly to create situations in which reciprocal learning processes should flourish, thanks to hospitality and collaboration, the artists involved are invited to spend time in each-others’ countries and try adsorb as much information and stimulus they can in order to develop art works base on these guidelines. The development of the research in Yerevan and Milan will therefore use the notion of the paradox in order to describe a contemporary way of living. The concept of storytelling is thus seen here not only as a reference, but also as methodology, declined in diverse forms, such as the transmission of information (who do we communicate to, and how?) and the individual or collective thinking processes (can we create communal space of shared knowledge?).

The curators Susanna Gyulamiryan and Aria Spinelli created an open research platform which will critically reflect on the Armenian and Italian contemporary art scenes by deepening these issue through artistic research, collective discussions, tours, exhibition praxis and theoretical production, involving institutions, non for profit, independent and educational spaces in Yerevan, Milan, Florence, Turin, Venice such as the MekhitarSebastatsi Educational Complex, Department of Fine Arts at the Armenian Open University (Yerevan), NABA (Milan), Mesopotomia (Milan), DOCVA (Milan) Isola Art Center (Milan), Wulkos (Venice), IL VIVAIO DEL MALCANTONE, F_AIR, GuilmiArtProject (Florence), Kaninchen-Haus (Turin). Italian artists Sabina Grasso and Angela Zurlo and curator Aria Spinelli spent researching and projects implementing time in Yerevan at the ‘Art Commune’ International Artist-in-Residence cluster organized by Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory (ACSL). Armenian artists Armine Hovhannisyan, Karen Andreasian and curator Susanna Gyulamiryan had an artistic reciprocity in Turin, Florence, Venice and Milan-FARE (Open Care Residency facilities). Given the complexity of the Italian context, the group also travelled to other residencies in Italy, where they have been hosted and attended various activities. The working group were also attendees of the 55th Biennale in Venice, 2013. The final show was organized in Milan at the Frigoriferi Milanesi Art Center and an exhibition complex, where the artists re-enacted the period of research undertaken. A final publication documented the whole process and the theoretical conclusions by the curators.

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This project is promoted and organized by FARE Cultura Contemporanea Applicata (Milan) in collaboration with Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory (ACSL – Yerevan). It has been supported by ACSL, FARE, OPEN CARE, FONDAZIONE CARIPLO, FRIGORIFERI MILANESi, NABA, CISP, GAI, LEVON TRAVEL.

Artinresidence.it is a network of national residency programs. The network intends to facilitate artistic mobility through RESIDENZAITALIA, a unique program that supports artist and curators permanency within national residency programs. FARE also sustains the artist residencies by implementing their cultural activities through collaboration and support of the work of international and national artist and curators.

FARE is a non-profit cultural association based in Milan. It works in the field of contemporary art, extended also to the cross culture of the contemporary. Consulting services for private entities have been carried on together with complex or collaborative projects with other associations and cultural organizations of Milan beyond “public” projects as the articulation and management of national and international networks for training and residencies for artists and curators. The focus of FARE is to carefully pay attention to the needs of the cultural system and its operators: what is missing, what has to be done, what people would like.

Karen Andreasyan is a Yerevan-based artist. His exhibitions and projects include: Absence/Presence, Yerevan, 1993; the Venice Biennial, Armenian pavilion, 1995; the Geo-Kunst Expedition within the framework of Documenta X, in 1997; ‘(his)tory’‚ Salzburg Kunstverein, Austria 2002; and Adieu Parajanov, Kunsthalle Vienna, Austria 2003; Since 2003 he has been working on a long-term network project, Voghchaberd, which was presented at the Centre for the Contemporary Image, Geneva, 2004 and XV Biennale de Paris, 2006, and is in the Fondsrégionaux d’art contemporain collection, France. His Ontological Walkscapes is an ongoing project, part of which was presented at the 11th International Istanbul Biennial, 2009. Its present Blind Dates installment, entitled 960, is the artist’s debut in New York.

Sabina Grasso is a Milan-based artist. Her works are principally concerned with the representation of people and the places in which they dwell. She is also interested in the city as a kind of dramatic stage where social conditions of strata’s living levels are connected with current politics of ruling system with all hierarchical subordination in the social body. Photography, video, collage and performances are her most used media. Her works were shown in different venues including FrigoriferiMilanesi, Milan 2013; Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK; MAGASIN Centre National d’ArtContemporain, Grenoble, France; FondazioneBevilacqua la Masa, Venezia, Italy; Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea, Trento, Italy.

Armine Hovhannisyan (b.1983) lives and works in Yerevan. She graduated from Armenian Open University, Department of Fine Arts in 2004. Since 2003 she has taken part in various local and international exhibitions, symposiums and workshops. Some of the crucial participations include Society, Body, Art VII Annual Festival of Alterative Art-Yerevan at ACCEA(2005);Gender Trouble. Platforms exhibition and series of seminars organized by ACSL (2008, 2009, curator: S.Gyulamiryan), Gyumri International Biennales of Art (2004-2008), Soviet AgitArt. Restoration exhibition with S.Baghdasaryan at BM SUMA, the Contemporary Art Center in Istanbul (2008, curator: B.Madra), and Manufacture, a residency project in Istanbul organized by Bilgi University (2007), Urban dreams residency-exhibition, in the scope of HEICO project (2011, Art Today Association, Bulgaria and Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory, Armenia),Havavproject organized by Fethiye Cetin and Hrant Dink Foundation, Istanbul, Havav, Turkey (2011) and The journey to the Eastexhibition in Bialystok, MOCAK, Warsaw, Poland (2011, curator: M. Szewczyk).

Angela Zurlo (1982, Troia (FG) Italy) lives and works in Rome. Her research investigates issues that deal with female and infantile aspects of complex societies, through the reinterpretation of old textiles and sewing techniques. She has a BA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna (2006) and an MA from the Academy of Arts in Rome (2009). She conducted research for over a year at the Universitad de Belles Artes in Bilbao, Spain. She participated in Default masterclass residency program organizedby Random (Lecce). She participated in festivals and collective projects such as Nuovagestione, Rome (2012), Linea35 Festival (2011), Mettiuna sera in Barona curated by Connecting Cultures, Milan (2011).

Recent shows: Taking Position: Identity Questioning, Frigoriferi Milanesi, Milan 2013; Ortica, Organic theme in contempoary Art, Macro Testaccio, Rome 2013; Cartabianca_roma, Museo di Arte contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genoa; Ouverture, Museo Fondazione Pino Pascali, Bari 2012; Trame. Omaggio a Louise Bourgeois, Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea, Rome 2011, My favourite things, Galleria Contemporaneo di Mestre, Venice 2010.