Sargsyan's booklets with pictures of gravestones were placed in a giftshop next
to other postcards.
The inscription "Welcome
to Armenia, an Outdoor Museum" is included in the booklets published by artist
Azat Sargsyan. In those booklets one can find his photos where he, dressed in
black clothes with the word "welcome" written on them, stands next to
different graves in Yerevan cemeteries.
On September 12 Azat was distributing
his booklets in a gift shop located on Abovian Street. He had beforehand placed
his booklets with the pictures of graves next to post cards with Armenian sites
and happy Armenian faces. The expression "Armenia is an Outdoor Museum",
which is told about historical and cultural monuments and churches spread all
around the republic, has been heard by people since their childhood. Armenia is
an outdoor museum in Azat's "tourist" booklets too, although cemeteries
make that museum.
"Diaspora Armenians dream about Armenia. However,
when they come here their dreams are ruined. They say 'Oh, they have stolen, what
a country it is! Everybody is lying' and things like that," Azat explains
of his performance. "Graves make dreams come true - to live abroad and to
be buried in your homeland. A grave has no dreams any more to be ruined. And these
days Armenia is something like a cemetery for Diaspora Armenians. The coffin business
is being developed very intensively, people even sell their houses to the expanding
The performance is an irony directed to the utopia of
Diaspora Armenians in the form of a cemetery. The performance started with the
distribution of booklets and ended when they had all gone.
his work, artist Mher Azatyan expresses his desire that Caucasus countries stop
posing obstacles in each others' way.
project was presented within the International Project of the Second Utopian Meeting,
organized by the Swiss Utopiana Organization (www.utopiana.am), which took place
in Yerevan from September 8 to 13.
The subject of the meeting was "the
body and its demands". It was presented through discussions and exhibitions.
and coordinator of the Utopian Meetings is artist Anna Barseghyan, a resident
of Switzerland who organized the "Utopia" exhibition of artists from
Armenia and foreign countries two years ago in Yerevan. That exhibition preceded
two utopian meetings.
"At one exhibition organized in Paris I saw a
map dated from 17th Century. On that map paradise was located in Armenia,"
says Barseghyan, "In its fantasies the West was regarding the East as a paradise.
However, unlike the map, the West is a social paradise for modern Armenia. So
that was how the idea was created to take another look at Armenia and Soviet territory
as a result of utopian reality of the Soviet times."
In 2001, Anna
Barseghyan organized exhibition "Utopia", where artists from Armenia
and Europe were participating at. Next year she created Yerevan Utopian meetings,
during which intellectuals discuss urgent global problems and organize exhibitions.
Meetings are financed by the Geneva Municipality.
Local and foreign scientists
read lectures at the Yerevan State University over five days. The particular problem
of the body in French philosophy was presented by Professor Renaud Barbaras of
the Sorbonne ("the body is rather 'I am' than 'I have'.") and the theme
of turning the body into a product was presented by Toulouse University economist
Professor Genevieve Azam.
Barseghyan's square cake with the map of Yerevan on top was delicious.
"Our goal is to turn Armenia into a meeting point, to organize
communications between local and foreign representatives of the intelligentsia
and to put an end to Armenia's isolation in some way," says Barseghyan
these contacts caused some conflicts. One Armenian lecturer, Levon Ghazaryan from
the Department of Economic Theory, became angry when an architect from Geneva
Bruno Vesier demonstrated pictures of installations with phalluses on them and
declared that the only difference between the Mother Armenia monument and the
Stalin monument that had been placed there previously was that "the moustache
has just been moved from the top downwards". He also tried to intepret the
statue of men dancing Kochari placed in front of the Dvin Hotel as a dance of
homosexuals. In protest Ghazaryan refused to accept an honorarium.
13, the last day, performances and artistic conceptions were presented in the
Museum of Architecture. Artist Mher Azatyan showed photos of the Yerevan "Metax"
Factory from whose roof tiles made in Grozny during the 1930s had fallen.
independence of Grozny is our independence too," Mher explains of his work.
"For reigning in the Caucasus Region, Russia first of all always conquers
Chechnya. Tiles made in Grozny symbolize the roof of Caucasus. This is my utopia.
I want Caucasus countries such as Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other neighbors
to have relations and cooperation resembling the model of Baltic countries. There
are disagreements between those countries too, however they don't create obstacles
Anna Barseghyan's creation was presented to the audience
at the end, a huge square cake (1.5m x 1.5m) with a map of Yerevan on the surface.
body of Yerevan has been pocketed and it is not 'ours' any more but 'theirs',
who say in advertisements 'I love you'," says culturologist Hrach Bayatyan.
"The distribution and pocketing of Yerevan (in the form of a cake) is an
obvious reflection of the authorities and the richness that has already been pocketed.
So this is how the cake was offered at the close of the party.
another point of view it is an expression of love - 'I'll eat you'."