In the light of color revolution

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.

Eva Khachatryan

01 MHER AZATYAN

Mher Azatyan is an artist-collector whose installations are comprised of the collected images and texts. At the basis of this often sudden and unexpected encounter between photography and text lies material scarcity.
Going through the pains and losses, Azatyan still looks for the possibilities of living and creating. And he finds these possibilities in the most insignificant details: in micro constituents of mundane life and the most innocent and often amusing setups.

The most important group exhibitions include “Remember Malevich!” (The House of Journalists, Yerevan, 1993), PACIFIC (Artists’ Union, Yerevan, 1994) and PS (Editorial Office of “Art” periodicals) exhibitions organized by the 3rd floor group, “The question of Noah’s Ark” (Yerevan Modern art museum, 1995), “Great Atrophy” (Hay-Art Cultural Center, 1999) and the 2nd International Biennial of Gyumri (2000). In 2001 Azatyan took part in the 49th Venice Biennale, International exhibition of art as well as “Adieu-Parajanov” (Kunsthalle Project Space, Vienna, Austria, 2003), “From Armenia….” exhibition organized in the scope of Armenian cultural days in France (Quimper, France, 2007) and 54th Venice Biennale. Works and lives in Yerevan.

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The artist is a human being.

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Are you an artist?

Yes, I am.

Do you sell your paintings at Vernissage?

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If you like it, I will give it for cheap.

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The sea takes far away.

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The sea takes far away.

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What am I supposed to do if this life getsbetter?

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Our childhood is a reality.

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Art is love, either it exists or it doesn’t.

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Tomorrow everything will be OK.

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I want to write, but what should I write?

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You have a home but your soul is elsewhere.

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What’s untold is more important.

02 THE ACCIDENTS PLANNING INTERNATIONAL CENTER

In March 2008 Grigor Khachatryan established “The Accidents Planning International Center”. Since then he is planning any accident: from weather to political events. The represented objects, documental materials are witnesses of the progressing activities of the center, which are extended on past, present and future.

Grigor Khachatryan is one of those first artists in Armenia who shifted in 1970s towards conceptual art practices (performance, text and photography). The theme of power is central for his artistic oeuvre. Materials for Khachatryan’s artistic production are his own persona, his body and his name. Implicit and explicit interventions in the printed and electronic media are essential for Khachatryan’s artistic strategies.

In 1987-1996 Khachatryan was art editor of Garoun magazine. In 1996-2002 he was artistic director of AR TV Company. Since 2003 he is director of Fine Arts High-School at Mkhitar Sebastatsi educational complex.

In recent years, the most important participations in exhibitions are “From Armenia…” exhibition in Quimper city (France, 2007), the 20th International Poster Biennial of Warsaw (Warsaw, 2006), “Adieu Parajanov” exhibition (Vienna, 2003), as well as “Parallel reality” exhibition in the Hay-Art Cultural Center, 1st International Biennial of Gyumri (1998) and 54th Venice Biennale. Khachatrayn has realized long-term projects like festival of “Wandering Musicians in Yerevan” and “Grigor Khachatrayan” prize. Works and lives in Yerevan.
1984 – «I am the pigeon»
International Poster Competition, Moscow, 3-rd prize
2007-Demonstration in Kiev against George Bush
The video is taken from the local TV channel

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Grigor Khachatryan – Director of “The Accidents Planning International Center”

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The brick 2008 “The Accidents Planning International Center”

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Letter Box

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The gas fire extinguisher

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Yerevan flour grinding factory

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Grigor Khachatryan, Official Meetings, photo series of performance, 2010.
“Official Meetings” photo series for the first time were exhibited at 54th Venice Biennale, Armenian Pavillion, 2011

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Grigor Khachatryan, Official Meetings, photo series of performance, 2010.
“Official Meetings” photo series for the first time were exhibited at 54th Venice Biennale, Armenian Pavillion, 2011

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Grigor Khachatryan, Official Meetings, photo series of performance, 2010.
“Official Meetings” photo series for the first time were exhibited at 54th Venice Biennale, Armenian Pavillion, 2011

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Grigor Khachatryan, Official Meetings, photo series of performance, 2010.
“Official Meetings” photo series for the first time were exhibited at 54th Venice Biennale, Armenian Pavillion, 2011

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Grigor Khachatryan, Official Meetings, photo series of performance, 2010.
“Official Meetings” photo series for the first time were exhibited at 54th Venice Biennale, Armenian Pavillion, 2011

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Grigor Khachatryan, Official Meetings, photo series of performance, 2010.
“Official Meetings” photo series for the first time were exhibited at 54th Venice Biennale, Armenian Pavillion, 2011

03 POLITICIZING THE TOASTS

“Art-Laboratory” is a cultural NGO that was founded in 2007by artists Garik Yengibaryan, Edgar Amroyan, Arthur Petrosyan, Ara Petrosyan, Karen Ohanyan, Hovnan Kartashyan, Samvel Vanoiyan, Harutyun Zulumyan, Narine Zolyan, Hovhannes Margaryan.

The main goal of ART LAB is to reflect on socio-political urgent issues and to disclose those covered/invisible mechanisms that support the establishment of the repressive social systems. The public actions and political artistic manifestations of ART LAB are out of plain framework of cultural understandings. They are more reminding mobilizing actions that are led to effect the social and political processes. The activity and structure of ART LAB is being formed according to the projects that corresponds the above mentioned principles. The projects are being realized after collective discussion within the activists’ group.

Notation

In 2008 after the events of 1st of March the authorities in Armenia are trying to establish police control over the public areas. “Art-Laboratory” NGO is “notating” the public spaces, declaiming the totalitarian police control. This struggle is actually underground, and that’s why we leave our signs in subways or nearby, they should stimulate passersby to think about various public issues. These reactions can be on urgent events, they depict the people, or have a symbolic meaning. We realize that such a sign-image is bringing back only a few square meters of public space, but this is a platform to continue the struggle.

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04 DVD REVOLUTION

The expression “DVD revolution” was pronounced for the first time by the opposition leader Levon Ter ‐ Petrosyan (which as he said he had heard from the talks among the protesters) during the 2008 presidential election demonstrations in Yerevan. Activist groups produced and distributed DVDs which contained information about demonstrations, meetings, activist actions and speeches delivered by their leaders as well as video documentations of the clash with the police and special forces on March 1.

Using a DVD format made it possible to widely circulate this material, whereas they could not be aired on TV because of strict censorship and if they were published on the web the scope of the circulation would be limited because the internet was not widely accessible. The manifesto DVD REVOLUTION written around the same time by six artists (Tigran Khachatryan, Yuri Manvelyan, Arman Grigoryan, Karen Alekyan, Karen Barseghyan, Arman Martirosyan) reflecting on the revolutionary process in Armenia and proposing an alternative artistic “revolutionary program.”

Vardan Jaloyan (Art Critic)

DVD REVOLUTION Manifesto of Artists’ Initiative

We salute color revolutions around the world and in Armenia.
Today the artist finds its inspiration in popular (democratic) movements of struggle for rights.
We declare that art is product of knowledge useful for struggle, and new technologies are its tools.
Capitalism is everlasting crisis. Capitalism has evolved as a transition stage from a regime attached to
land and based on heavy physical work, to regimes, which by means of technologies have been
emancipated from work,
we are changing the old impressions of man.We deprive the man from his metaphysical rule over
nature, animals and machines,
in our society the cause of poverty is the “immoral familism”,
to do sex must become as drinking a glass of water. It is degenerate to make sex production and
profit‐making business,
elimination of estranged work is our goal,
international citizenship for everyone,
700 Euro wage to everyone irrespective of their level of engagement,
we demand formation of international government by direct election,
let us return to cosmopolitanism and internationalism their positive meaning,
socialism is clean colors,
multitude are today’s proletariat,
man’s creative spirit is expressed by struggle against regimes of control and exploitation,
let us resign from “Dostoyevshchina”. As V. I. Lenin states it is “reactionary abomination”,
art is not product of institutions of art,
instead of picturing, art participates,
our interest is here and now,
there are as many nationalities and genders as there are human beings,
laziness is a mode of struggle,
spiritual has materialistic explanation,
contemporary Armenian glamorous culture is a commodo‐pecuniary commercialized alternative of
social‐realism,
end to the spectacular society,
end to the conflict of the world within with the world without,
end to the pathetic longing for celebrations.

November 12. 2008

05 Eva Khachatryan - Biography

Born in 1977, Yerevan, Armenia. Lives and works in Yerevan. Eva Khachatryan is a freelance curator and member of AICA Armenia (International Association of Art Critics). Between 2003 and 2008 she was working as a curator at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (ACCEA) and between 2006 and 2008 she was holding the position of co-director in the Department of Fine Arts at the ACCEA. At the moment she is realizing different projects (exhibitions, seminars) in Suburb Cultural Center (www.suburb.am). Her recent curatorial work has been mostly on women’s issues and new media in contemporary art. Since 2005 she has been organizing projects such as the „Women’s Dialogue“ festival (ACCEA, Yerevan), and the international media festival „Art in the Age of New Technologies“ (ACCEA, Yerevan), as well as the exhibitions Alternative Vision (Art Point Gallery, Vienna), All and Now (Suburb Cultural Center, Yerevan) and „Memory and Identity“ in the framework of the “Culturescapes” festival in Basel, Switzerland.

Since 2007 she is co-organizer of the “Transkaukazja“ festival, initiated by the „The Other Space Foundation“ (Warsaw, Poland). In the framework of this festival in 2011 she organized „City in Use“ project in public space, in Yerevan. In 2008 she was involved as a researcher in the “Gender Check” project and exhibition curated by Bojana Pejic and initiated by ERSTE Foundation, MUMOK, Vienna. Her last project, international seminar „Intersection of Parallels“, deidicated to the issues of self oganization, was organized in partnership with Goethe Institute.

06 Exhibition credits

Curator: Eva Khachatryan
Author of Texts: Eva Khachatryan
Realization: Lenka Střeláková and Janek Rous
Published: 20. 6. 2012