Friday, 22 August 2008

Armenian contemporary women artists discuss identity and sexuality via video works screened in Yerevan

Queering Yerevan posts selected extracts of videos by Armenian contemporary women artists. These videos, produced since 2000, were screened in Yerevan this August within a framework of Coming To You To Not Be With You exhibition by Armenian queer women.

The works shared a concern with the issues of the body and sexuality in the specific experiences of Armenian women artists. They articulate the body as sites for contestation of identity construction.

The aim of the program was to historicize WOW's [the Women-Oriented Women’s Collective (Armenian gay women group) - Unzipped: Gay Armenia] activities as well as contexualize them within the larger representational and identity discourses in Armenia.

1 comment:

artmika said...

*From One Week in Yerevan: Art, Politics, and Sexuality by Pawel Leszkowicz

Summer in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is very hot (30-35 °C in the shadow), and yet the week of late July early August 2008 was even hotter - with cool events. In the evening of the 2nd of August a group of people gathered in the garden of Utopiana Association for the opening of a women’s art exhibition Coming to you to not be with you organized by WOW (Women—oriented-Women) Armenian artists network. It is 7 p.m. and the heat is still enormous. The curators, art historian Angela Harutyunyan and a writer Shushan Avagyan are opening the show with an introduction emphasizing the feminist and queer agenda of the show. The art expresses the experiences and cultures of straight, bisexual and lesbian Armenian women artists living in Armenia and in diasporas scattered all over the world. The lesbian element of the project is very important, since it is also a coming-out manifesto in a very conservative country.

The cultural organisation, Utopiana Association, has been operating in Armenia since 2000 with multi-disciplinary projects: exhibitions, seminars, publications and artists’ workshops. Utopiana’s focus on issues of gender and identity and development of civil society makes it a friendly space for WOW queer exhibition. In the garden of the house at Zaroubyan Street shared by Utopiana and Women Research Center a team of artists installed art pieces ranging from paintings to video projections. A colour photographs by Adrineh Der-Boghossian, hanging on the trees show fragments of women’s bodies/selves. The exhibition starts with on the wall video projection by Lusine Chergeshtyan representing a caring touch of two women. Alina Martiros made a composition of paintings based on female symbols in ancient Armenian culture. Lusine Talalyan and Arpi Adamyan turned a ruined house into a home with a wallpaper reminding mother’s room. The video of artist and punk singer Tsomak shows her dramatic public performace with balloons and posters on the highway bridge in Yerevan on a stormy day. The city features also prominently in video films by Lusine Chergeshtyan, Lusine Talalyan, Astghik Melkonyan as the artists trace their personally significant journeys throughout Yerevan.

The exhibition is an outcome of an art/research project Self/Mapping: Queering the City but are there any other urban spaces of difference outside the island of Utopiana?!

*Pawel Leszkowicz is a curator and lecturer/writer from Poland ,specialising in contemporary art/visual culture and sexuality/queer studies. He curated the exhibition of contemporary queer art "Love and Democracy" (2005/2006) and wrote with his partner Tomek Kitlinski the book "Love and Democracy. He intends to develop an international perspective and contacts in this field, particularly in Eastern Europe. In Poland he teaches at the Department of Art History at the University and the Department of Intermedia at the Fine Arts Academy.