The waves of the so called “color revolutions” in former soviet republics like Georgia (“rose revolution”) and the Ukraine (“orange revolution”) are types of uprisings for just and democratic presidential elections. The spirit of color revolution, characterized by the unsatisfactory state of the institution of elections and by struggles to establish it, is present in almost all the post-Soviet countries, but here we reserve the term color revolution for those countries where special early presidential elections took place.
The once symbolic meaning of political art became very concrete, with a specific audience in the streets and public spaces. This whole new unprecedented situation for Armenia not only brought to light new types of discussions incited by a huge number of virtual and physical meetings but also activated different levels of struggle, from direct political actions fighting for the rights of cities, to calls to aesthetic revolution, and on to appeals for the rights of minorities.
The most significant politically active group of recent years is a creative organization called Art Laboratory. It was formed by a group of artists with a mission to resist the state’s policy of repression in Armenia. In contrast to the organization’s name, group members appropriate the tools of street art, using graffiti, stencils and actions to manifest their ideas. They believe that art originates from an event or occurrence. They approach the most problematic issues faced by Armenian society, such as violence in the army, police corruption and abuse of power in general.
Another artist collective took on the name DVD Revolution from a term used by one of the opposition leaders to describe the Armenian version of color revolution. Artists came together to form the group after 2008 elections. Associating themselves with “libertarian socialism” they create video installations, make posters, conduct interviews and publish manifestos to promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic means of production opposed to the coercive social relations of capitalism, such as wage labor or estranged work. Some of the members of the group are active public figures and members of the oppositional “Armenian National Congress” cultural committee.
Grigor Khachatryan is another supporter of the opposition but his works never directly respond to political hot topics. In 2007/08 he established the fictional organization “National Center for Planning Accidents”, which would plan and carry out various accidents and coincidences. One of the center’s actions was to bring attention to bricks, which are usually associated with accidents in Armenian adages.
Mher Azatyan makes socio-political poetry with collected images and texts accompanying each other. In one work, through simple phrases, short sentences and everyday images, he reflects on a well known flea market in Yerevan, bringing to focus the existing complex division of rich and poor, failure and success, past and future.