The Queering Yerevan Collective’s Indiegogo fundraising campaign is nearing its end, with only 6 days left at the time of this posting. It’s an experimental video project by Arpi Adamyan and Melissa Boyajian called AREGNAZAN OR MAGICAL WORLD. This is a unique collaboration between two outstanding artists from Yerevan and Boston respectively, who reconstruct and reinvent Armenian writer Ghazaros Aghayan’s fairytale, originally written in 1887, in a completely new way.
You can find out more about the project here:
Please, read artists' description below and make contribution to this queer, Armenian, futuristic video-animation, where the evil witch is replaced with an oligarch.
Aregnazan or Magical World is an adaptation of an Armenian epic fairytale by Ghazaros Aghayan. This olden day fairytale takes place near the base of Mount Ararat, a symbolic mountain to the Armenian people. The story begins with a father and his 3 children, 2 of which are beautiful girls. And the 3rd child, Aregnazan, was the most beautiful, but good spirits decided to hide the sex of Aregnazan until a day when it would need to be revealed for the greater good of the world. Aregnazan's father chooses to raise Aregnazan like his 2 daughter's, and dress them all in girl's clothes. However, Aregnazan disliked playing girl's games and learned how to ride a horse and use weapons. After the children grew up the father realized that there was future for them and that he must send 1 of his children out to fight for the king. He devises a test for them and disguises himself as a masked thief in an attempt to test the strength and will of his children. Aregnazan wins the test and leaves on a journey to save the king from a bear, defeat an evil witch who has imprisoned the citizens of the stone city, and save the ailing princess.
We are interested in adapting the story because of the unique representation of gender of Aregnazan within the story's beginning. However, the story remains very patriarchal and sexist in it's glorification of masculinity and lack of agency with the female characters. Aregnazan does not become a true hero in the story until completely transforming into a man. And of course the tropes of the sick princess, lovesick and waiting for her prince to save her as well as the wicked evil witch are also examples.
Our fantastical video animation is about Aregnazan's journey to self-discovery, redefining of traditions, love and revolution! Our piece is very important because it is offering an alternative narrative and representation of gender within Armenian culture! While our adaptation will still be following the journey of Aregnazan, Aregnazan's gender remains fluid throughout the story and will never become a man. Our version will also be reversing the roles of the weak female characters to be strong. The piece will make connections with socio-economic conditions of present day Armenia by replacing the evil witch with an oligarch, a symbol of the small very wealthy group of men that have monopolies on most of the resources of Armenia while a staggering portion of the population is unemployed. Some of the things Aregnazan encounters on their journey are a fight on a dangerous bridge, a meeting with a cyborg woman and a girl that can fly, and a revolutionary scene in the sleeping city!
The piece will not follow in a cut-and-dry filmic narrative fashion. The scenes contain performative actions between the characters that give reference to Armenian traditions and literature and reinterpret and queer their meanings. The performative gestures in some scenes can be likened to a choreographed dance of actions. The video and animation will be layered together in post-production editing to make the already fantastical atmosphere even more stunning!
If you have not done so already, please visit our Indiegogo page and make a contribution to our project!