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The National Pavilion Of The Republic Of Armenia

56.Venice Biennale Venezia  •  Italy [IT]


Golden Lion for Best National Participation to the Republic of Armenia


A special Shuttle service by ACTV vaporetto from the Giardini departs at 4.30 pm from the Giardini to the Island of San Lazzaro (10 min). ACTV vaporetto Number 20 from San Marco Zacaria to San Lazzaro departs at 4.30, 5.10, 5.50, 6.30 and 7.10 pm (15 min). Return vaporetto every hour. 

Melik Ohanian’s PRESENCE — Belongingness to Present, a two part project for the Republic of Armenia Pavillon offers a glimpse at what could be the existence seen through distance — physical or psychological, cultural or real, historic or individual. Distances or inalienable gaps that would be embodied by the diversity of the spatial and temporal peculiarities. Between origin and destination appear and converge archetypes in perpetual construction. To belong to the present means to belong to several places, several times, at the same time.

The artist presents in San Lazzaro Island the work Streetlights of Memory — A Stand by Memorial, 2010/2015. However the installation – conceived in 2010 for the public space in the City of Geneva – will be displayed in its state of progress. In the frame of the 56th Venice Biennial, the installation will show the 87 elements constituting the final work — Les Réverbères de la Mémoire — but dismantled. The work itself is a homage to the victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide. A publication will accompany the installation in its new form and will try to reveal and describe the issues raised by the project, from its very beginning until the complex situation it faces for its installation in Geneva.

Started by Melik Ohanian in 2005, the Datcha Project is a place created by the artist in a village in Armenia where people from different cultures and background are invited to share a determined time. Declared as A Zone of No Production, every guest is asked here to experience the temporality of this space without any planning nor a scenario. In the frame of the 56th Venice Biennial, Ohanian proposes to activate the Datcha Project in a singular way. Structured in four acts unfolding for the whole duration of the Biennial, the reality of this Zone of No Production in Armenia and the event represented by the Biennial, will generate a peculiar resonance; an echo linking the West and the gates of the Near East.

ARMENITY ARTISTS:Haig Aivazian, Lebanon, Nigol Bezjian, Syria/USA, Anna Boghiguian Egypt/Canada, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Turkey, Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Argentina/Germany, Rene Gabri & Ayreen Anastas, Iran/Palestine/USA, Mekhitar Garabedian, Belgium, Aikaterini Gegisian, Greece, Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi, Italy, Aram Jibilian, USA, Nina Katchadourian, USA/Finland, Melik Ohanian, France, Mikayel Ohanjanyan, Armenia/Italy, Rosana Palazyan, Brasil, Sarkis, Turkey/France, Hrair Sarkissian, Syria/UK.

In this symbolic year 2015, on the occasion of the one hundredth commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia has dedicated its pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia to the artists of the Armenian diaspora. It will be located at the Mekhitarist Monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni. Vaporetti will leave for San Lazzaro every early afternoon from the Giardini.

The curatorial concept of Armenity** implies the notion of displacement and territory, justice and reconciliation, ethos and resilience. Regardless of their place of birth, the selected artists carry within their identity the memory of their origins. Through their talent and willpower, these grandchildren of survivors of the Armenian Genocide—the first genocide of the 20th Century— rebuilt a “transnational assembly” from the remnants of a shattered identit y. Their ingrained concern for memory, justice and reconciliation skillfully transcends notions of territory, borders and geography. Whether they were born in Beirut, Lyon, Los Angeles, or Cairo and wherever they may reside, these global citizens constantly question and reinvent their armenity.

Armenity** is being held in a setting of special significance for the Armenian diaspora. It was on the Island of San Lazzaro, located between San Marco and the Lido and facing the Giardini of the Biennale, that in 1717 the Armenian monk Mekhitar established the Mekhitarist Order. It was here that in the early 19th century Lord Byron studied the Armenian language. Many important works of European literature and religious texts were first translated into Armenian on this scenic island. Over its three-hundred years history the Monastery of San Lazzaro with its gardens, former print shop, cloisters, museum and library, has helped to preserve Armenia’s unique cultural heritage, much of which might otherwise have been lost.

An accompanying catalogue published by Skira, Milan will contain colour reproductions and texts in English and Armenian. An introduction, forewords and curatorial texts will be followed by 4 pages dedicated to each of the 16 artists: 1 page of text by each artist and essays by international art critics and writers such as Ruben Arevshatyan, Cecile Bourne, Ginevra Bria, Adam Budak, David Kazanjian, Berthold Reiss, Gabi Scardi, Hrag Vartanian and 3 pages with images and drawings of the works.

The third part of the catalogue will contain essays by New York-based art historian and independent curator Neery Melkonian and London-based art writer and Ibraaz editor Stephanie Bailey. The catalogue will end with the Armenian translations of the texts.

A book of poetry comprising the work of 12 Armenian poets born after the Armenian Genocide and the Russian Revolution will accompany the catalogue. The poems have been translated into French by the prominent Swiss-Armenian poet Vahé Godel. The book will include an essay by the author, along with a selection of Armenian translations.

In the context of Armenity, the Piccolo Amphitheater of the Arsenale will host from September 5 to 11 a series of performances, discussions and video projections by performing artists, poets and independent filmmakers orginally from Asia Minor.

The Lyon-based Bullukian Foundation*** is proud to be a partner of Armenity.

Special thanks to the Hrechdakian family (also the main supporters of the Houshamadyan Project) We thank the Harry Babikian family, Brussels for donating the IP video surveillance system, the Boghossian Foundation, Brussels, the Foundation Alliance, Paris, the Foundation Armenia, Geneva, the UGAB, NY and Vahé Gabrache and Jean Altounian for their collaboration and support.

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