Dialogues about Revolution and Power
The Voice of Queer Feminist Activists and Scholars in Conjunction with Feminist Art from Armenia
Curator: Susanna Gyulamiryan
The project “About Revolution and Power” is dedicated to all the women who have been participants, initiators and organizers of political and civil protest, struggles and resistance in Armenia for decades, the ones who have shaped and directed women’s movements, initiated queer feminist discourses and defined the developmental paths of the critical thinking in the Republic.
The important feature of the project articulates Armenian female artists’ activism that moves in stride with political, civil, social and feminist movements. Meanwhile, political and feminist activism in turn borrows methods from artistic practices and applies them in its multimedia arsenal of performance, actionism, manifests, and so on.
Thе impulse towards politicization paved the way for highly motivated female artists, who gained strength and momentum to break out of the limited spaces designated to the field of art, and the ideas of autonomy, political commitment, and enthusiasm for appropriating streets and public spaces were promoted and nurtured. A fresh direction lies in the cooperation of the political and the "aesthetic", female artists and feminist activists who, together, do not hesitate to act and campaign against injustice, and who develop concepts and actions to encourage political and social reforms in Armenia.
One part of the project presents the video series entitled “Dialogues about Revolution and Power,” which consists of critical reflections and creative manifestations by female experts, scholars, and queer feminist activists from Armenia – Gayane Ayvazyan, Ruzanna Grigoryan, Anna Nikoghosyan and Anna Zhamakochyan – on the topic of the 2018 Armenian revolution, which, according to one of the participants, was rather a regime change than a revolution.
In pair with the video documentation of artist Narine Arakelian’s reenactment of the notorious women’s civil disobedience action “Cast Iron Pots and Pans” in the public spaces of Venice, engaging over 50 women volunteers, the above mentioned “Dialogues” make up the most important part of the Armenian Pavilion of the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia (2019).
The entire project of the pavilion curated by Susanna Gyulamiryan is an artistic and analytical representation of the Armenian revolution of 2018. It brings together artists, scholars, and activists to reproduce the revolutionary events and reflect on them.
The dynamics of the development of women’s and feminist movements starting from the early Soviet period until the post-Soviet 1990s, reviewing the role of these movements in the context of their “negotiations” with the authorities and state institutions is presented by Tamar Shirinian – scholar and specialist on Women’s and Gender Studies.
Artist lusine talalyan presents her feminist call that “woman is owner-less,” as well as the arm-less image of monumental statue of Mother Armenia during a shame-less orgasm. (The statue of Mother Armenia in Yerevan is an image of a masculine woman with a sword in her arms. This kind of patri-archaic presentation through certain formal and stylistic attributes is a symbol of power, and some researchers call this kind of creature “matri-archaic”). Another image announced by talalyan as “becoming in_visibile” is a reflection
of multiple sets of questions regarding the visibility and invisibility of
women, their relationships with one another, the values placed on their desires within the social, the possibilities of memory, and the politics of remembrance.
The two graphic works by another female artist Lusine Navasardyan are about the consequences and “wounds” of the ideological and physical struggle of the Armenian civil activists.
Alongside the exhibition, Soviet-Armenian paintrees Armine Kalentz's series of women's portraits will be presented. Including this series is, among other things, a tribute to Armine Galentz's life and artistic path, where the diversity of gender conflicts was closely intertwined with gender struggles. However, as opposed to other Soviet-Armenian women artists, Armine Galentz did not hesitate to describe in her memoirs the dominating posture of masculinity and its methods of subjugating women in art.
The project does not claim to demonstrate the whole power of women's movements in Armenia and the complete history of feminist manifestations in art and activism. It however articulates the viewpoint according to which, in recent political life of Armenia, women's movements and queer feminist activism in conjunction with feminist art have been among the most dynamic, decisive, and effective processes in the Republic.