Cultural Projects 2023: My Home – Armenia in a Rapidly Changing World

Article, 20.06.2023

In February 2023, the Swiss Cooperation Office in Armenia SCO called for creative and innovative project proposals, which contribute to the development of contemporary arts in Armenia with the slogan "My Home – Armenia in a Rapidly Changing World". With the call, the SCO invited artists to reflect on life in this difficult geographical place; on being Armenian in a cosmopolitan world; and on living today but with an open, potentially promising future ahead. 

More than 80 proposals were received out of which five projects were selected for funding. Exhibitions and presentations of the below presented projects will take place throughout the year in Armenia and its regions.

Exhibition Armenian Futurisms
Exhibition Armenian Futurisms © SCO South Caucasus

Project Name: "Armenian Futurisms"

Implementing Artists: Samson Martirosyan & Taguhi Torosyan (Ars Techne Lab)

Through a poster exhibition, the project embarks on an exploration of potential futures for Armenia, steeped in a subsistence perspective. The ultimate dream is to spur action leading towards a future where Armenia thrives on sustainable living practices and an environmentally conscious ethos. As a product of speculative futures within contemporary artistic practices, this trailblazing project both mirrors and underlines the communal visions and objectives of BIPOC and Indigenous Futurisms.

The exhibition showcases a tapestry of art pieces by a diverse array of artists. Each artist interprets themes of subsistence living and environmental sustainability. Their creations introduce a wealth of cultural and societal nuances. Through the fusion of these unique perspectives, we gain a holistic understanding of these pressing topics, each artist touching on various elements of Armenia's potential future.

The heart of "Armenian Futurisms" beats with a dual purpose. It serves not only to share these artistic expressions but also to spark in-depth conversations on subsistence and the possible futures. It is a call to action for individuals and communities to visualize and work towards more sustainable futures for Armenia. Emphasizing the idea of multiple "futures", it reminds us of the countless paths Armenia can tread, shaped by a diverse array of decisions and progressions. It is an affirmation of the importance of collective efforts and democratic decision-making in carving out these potential futures.

Tiezerk Band Members
Tiezerk Band Members © SCO South Caucasus

Project: "The Song Behind Us"

Implementing Artist: Tiezerk Band

"The Song Behind Us" is a musical project that has a perspective of preserving the Armenian culture, modernizing it, and presenting it to the world. The project will organize the collection, arrangement, and modernization of 10 traditional/national songs from 5 villages of Armenia (Aparan, Ara villages, and Ashtarak city of the Aragatsotn region, Sevan city and Tsovagyugh village of Gegharkunik region).

The produced songs will then be presented to the public through a series of 3 concerts in Yerevan, Ashtarak(Open Air Concert at Hrach’s Art Space), and Sevan (Acoustic Concert at the Bohem Studio-Teahouse) of Armenia.

As one of the band members says, "The growing disparity between reality and our idealized world poses risks to our identity. To preserve our cultural identity and address these concerns, we should focus on reviving and modernizing Armenian traditional songs. Sharing these songs with the world will reinforce our identity and make it more distinctive."

"Country of Dust" Podcast Producers
"Country of Dust" Podcast Producers © SCO South Caucasus

Project Name: "Country of Dust"

Implementing Artists: Nyree Abrahamian, Gohar Khachatrian & Jeremy Dalmas

"Country of Dust" is a podcast that tells the stories of a changing Armenia. It is Armenia’s first professionally produced narrative storytelling podcast, which captures what life is like here in Armenia right now and explore the odd, inspiring, and sometimes perplexing ways in which the country keeps going, despite the odds.

"During this difficult and pivotal period for our country and our region, we need – more than ever – to share our stories with the world," say the "Country of Dust" producers’ - Nyree Abrahamian, Jeremy Dalmas and Gohar Khachatryan.

The podcast is in English and is available on all streaming platforms. The first season is set to launch this summer. The second season is in the works. 

Azat Reservoir, Ararat region, Armenia
Azat Reservoir, Ararat region, Armenia © SCO South Caucasus

Project Name: "The Cost of Water"
Implementing Artists: Vahe Ohanyan & Tehmine Yenokyan

"The Cost of Water" documentary project sheds light on Armenia's growing water crisis. With an estimated 80% of water resources lost annually, the film investigates the causes and impacts of this depletion. From inefficient water management to the challenges posed by climate change and the aftermath of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, the documentary aims to unravel the complex factors reshaping Armenia's water security.

Through this documentary, the project aims to inspire greater public awareness and action to address this highly relevant and pressing issue, advocate for government accountability, and contribute to the development of the cultural landscape in the country.

"Living Portals" Publication
"Living Portals" Publication © SCO South Caucasus

Project Name: "Living Portals: Settlement Fabrics of Khndzoresk, Tegh, and Verishen"

Implementing Artists: AHA collective

Between the fall of 2022 and spring 2023, AHA collective invited practitioners in the field of visual arts and architecture to station themselves in the region of Goris, in what is a fragile geopolitical context, to work, produce, and discuss the sensitive question of how we inhabit a place, a territory, a home. The works produced reveal the settlements’ rich historical and contemporary fabrics.

Under the curation of Naïri Khatchadourian, the "Living Portals" exhibition presents contemporary carpets by Davit Kochunts, mixed-media works and in-situ installations by Maïda Chavak, Anush Davtyan, Anush Ghukasyan, Piruza Khalapyan, and architectural research by Sarhat Petrosyan and Gagik Khachatryan.

The exhibition is followed by the publication of the bilingual catalogue "Living Portals: Settlement Fabrics of Khndzoresk, Tegh, and Verishen" with text contributions by curator and art historian Naïri Khatchadourian, visual anthropologist Tsovinar Kuiumchian, architect-urban planner Sarhat Petrosyan, historian Vardan Sargsyan, and testimonies by carpet collectors Levon Der Bedrossian, Hratch Kozibeyokian, Grant Morahan, and Arto Tavukciyan.