Lusadaran’s third exhibition ‘Trouble in Paradise: Photography and constructions of femininity’ opens in Yerevan

July 17-31
HayArt Cultural Centre,
7a, Mashtots Avenue
Monday-Saturday
Opening 7-9pm, July 17

Nvard Yerkanyan. From the installation 'Round Table' 2014

“The feminine is a troublemaker, truly situated on the margins of play… Just at the right moment, a shift. A flick of the finger, or the ‘fin mot’, the heart of the matter. Never the ‘mot de la fin’, the final word.” Julia Kristeva, 1998

The exhibition “Trouble in Paradise” looks at the current perceptions of femininity in contemporary Armenian photography, represented here by the works of Svetlana Antonyan (Okean), Anush Babajanyan, Anna Davtyan, Vehanush Topchyan, Nvard Yerkanian and Nazik Armenakyan. These are accompanied by examples of 19th and 20th century commercial photography, which give a partial overview of the historical as well as international developments in the visual constructions of the feminine.

Svetlana Antonyan (Oceana). Untitled 2. 2014

In post-feminist vision of society and power, the disquieting and ‘troublesome’ aspects of femininity are often oppressed or relegated to daytime soap operas. Mass medias continuously exploit normative, sexualised images of femininity as a vital part of the ‘consumer paradise’. In this regard, photography has always been the medium most responsible for both, the commodification and the subversion of femininity as an object of visual (masculine) pleasure.

Anna Davtyan. From the series 'The Book of the Fox', 2011-13

It is also the space that makes the dialogue between the participating artists possible. Coming from different professional backgrounds, these practitioners are interested in the tensions produced by disruptive, ambiguous and contradictory aspects of femininity. They view it not as an aesthetic or a critically devalued construct, but an activity which can become a constructive force. Employing this transgressive and contradictory power, the artists place hegemonies in a state of tension and anxiety by playing with ubiquitous imagery drawn from television, cinema, painting, mythology and commerce.

In their works, archetypes of domestic, public, political, and natural spaces are disturbed and transformed into arenas of imagination, poetry, desire and play. Photography itself is fragmented in the process. It takes different forms (documentary, conceptual, performative, commercial and archival) that slip and spill out from conventional frameworks, while enabling novel ways of seeing and representing the real.

Anush Babajanyan. Tamara. 2008

Collectively, the close to fifty works exhibited here enter into an open-ended discussion regarding the performance of femininity and how it might be relevant to current thinking (by predominantly women artists) about identity, desire, gender and beyond.

“Trouble in Paradise” is the third exhibition organised in Armenia by the ‘Lusadaran’ Armenian Photography Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to the collection, study and preservation of Armenian as well as other marginal photographic histories. It also seeks to promote the medium within the sphere of contemporary arts in Armenia.

‘Trouble in Paradise: photography and constructions of femininity

This exhibition looks at the current perceptions of femininity in contemporary Armenian photography, represented here by the works of Svetlana Antonyan (Oceana), Anush Babajanyan, Anna Davtyan,Vehanush Topchyan, Nvard Yerkanian and Nazik Armenakyan. These are accompanied byexamples of 19th and 20th century commercial photography, which give a partial overview of the historical as well as international developments in the visual constructions of the feminine.

In post-feminist vision of society and power, the disquieting and ‘troublesome’ aspects of femininity are often oppressed or relegated to daytime soap operas. Mass medias continuously exploit normative, sexualised images of femininity as a vital part of the ‘consumer paradise’. In this regard, photography has always been the medium most responsible for both, the commodification and the subversion of femininity as an object of visual (masculine) pleasure.

Photography is also the space that makes the dialogue between the participating artists possible. Coming from different professional backgrounds, these practitioners are interested in the tensions produced by disruptive, ambiguous and contradictory facets of femininity. They view it not as an aesthetic or a critically devalued construct, but a transgressive activity which can become a constructive force.
Their works refer to ubiquitous imagery drawn from television, cinema, painting, fashion and commerce. Through various ‘feminine’ interventions, these archetypes of domestic, public, political, and natural spaces are disturbed and transformed into arenas of imagination, poetry and play.

Photography and femininity themselves become fragmented in the process, turning into multiple phenomena. Taking different forms they slip and spill out from conventional frameworks, while enabling novel ways of seeing and representing the real.
Collectively, the close to fifty works exhibited here enter into an open-ended discussion regarding the performance of femininities and how it might be relevant to current thinking (by predominantly women artists) about identity, desire, gender and beyond.
Vigen Galstyan
Curator
‘Lusadaran’ Armenian Photography Foundation

Samvel Saghatelyan’s ‘Transromance’ takes on the domestic space in Yerevan

Sex and pornography are not innocent, but can they at least pretend to be so? These and other everyday questions are addressed in Samvel Saghatelyan’s exhibition ‘Transromance’, curated by Vigen Galstyan and opened at a private apartment in Yerevan on September 12, 2013 as a one-day event.

Composed of 11 mixed media photo-collages and one photocopy-collage, the series depicts the birth and development of a supra-male sexual fantasy.

Regarding body, gender and sexual desire as a cultural and political phenomenon, Saghatelyan attempts to find a small platform of pleasure and enjoyment in the cross-section of these issues. At this ambigous, liminal point, the abscence of clear positions and answers itself becomes a kind of a solution.

In the carnavalesque space of ‘Transromance’ power relations and sexual politics become masks – at once laughable, mutating, in a sense naive and in this particular game, always equal.

Referring to the underground and private apartment exhibitionս of the 1970s-80s Soviet period, the one-day presentation of ‘Transromance’ took place in a two bedroom flat in downtown Yerevan. Utilising this living environment, the exhibition transforms an ordinary domestic habitat into a laboratory of sexual myths.

The evening developed into a ‘happening’ as the over 100 visitors flooded in an out of the appartment until four am in the morning. Arthur Manukyan performed his renditions of Sayat-Nova on the guitar, conceptual artists put on impromptu performances and intellectuals took on the floor to give talks while guests debated the questions and ideas provoked by the show.

Սեքսն ու պոռնոգրաֆիան անմեղ չեն, բայց կարող են դրանք գոնե այդպես ձևանալ? Այս և այլ առօրյա հարցերին է անդրադառնում Սամվել Սաղաթելյանի ‘Տրանսռոմանս’ ցուցահանդեսը: Համադրված Վիգեն Գալստյանի կողմից, այն ներկայացվեց որպես մեկօրյա իրադարձություն, 2013 թվականի, սեպտեմբերի 12-ին, Երևանյան մի մասնավոր բնակարանում:

Կազմված իննը խառը տեխնիկայով արված ֆոտոկոլաժներից, շարքը պատկերում է գերտղամարդկային սեքսուալ մի ֆանտազմի զարգացումը:

Դիտարկելով մարմինը, գենդերը և սեռական ցանկության ‘ծնունդը’ որպես մշակույթային և քաղաքական երևույթ, Սաղաթելյանը փորձում է տվյալ խնդիրների հատման կետում գտնել հաճույքի և ազատության մի փոքրիկ հարթակ: Այս անորոշ, ապակողմնորշված և միջանկյալ կետում, հստակ դիրքորոշումների և պատասխանների բացակայությունը ինքնին ներկայանում է որպես լուծում: ‘Տրանսռոմանսի’ կառնավալային տարածության մեջ ուժային հարաբերությունները և սեռական քաղականությունը վերածված են դիմակների` միաժամանակ ծիծաղելի, փոփոխվող, ինչ որ առումով միամիտ և տվյալ խաղում` ընդմիշտ հավասարազոր:

Ակնարկելով սովետական շրջանի 1970-80 ականների ‘բնակարանային’, ընդհատակյա ցուցահանդեսները, ‘Տրանսռոմանսի’ մեկ օրյա ներկայացումը տեղի ունեցավ մասնավոր բնակարանում: Գործածելով այս ‘ապրող’ միջավայրը, ցուցահանդեսը վերծանում է կենցաղային տարածքը որպես սեքսուալ միֆերի լաբորատորիա:

Glenn Sloggett: ‘A white trash love story’. Review

 

THE POETRY OF JUNK

Sloggett. Even the name has strange phonetic reverences that call to mind associations of the discarded and the refused. Perhaps it’s the roots – slog and get – a process of slow, careful gleaning that throw me into a tangential reverie in front of the works by Melbourne’s photo-poet of the unloved.

Before you think that I have slipped and fell into a psychobubble, let me assure you that the formal rigour and conceptual consistency of Glen Sloggett’s exploration of his urban environment is devoid of the kind of cheap, hard-hitting sentimentality that plagues so much of so-called autobiographical mode of contemporary photography.

Yet, the photographs in his latest show are indeed deeply personal, emotionally felt experiences of the energies contained in material objects and banal everyday situations. If Sloggett’s previous series such as ‘Cheaper and Deeper’, contained a more pronounced critique of alienation inherent in the suburban culture, the works shown as part of the ‘A white trash (lost) love story’ series at the Stills Gallery, Sydney in February are devoid of such sharp, merciless outlook.

The style and format of the photographs is the same as in Sloggett’s earlier works: the images are large (80x80cm), square, printed with an abandunt white border, compositions luck obvious artistry, recalling snapshots, yet exhibit overwhelming detail. Colour is vibrant, almost kitschy in this case hinting at the hidden melodramatic subtext behind much of the imagery. People are conspicuous by their absence. Thus, for the photographer, every element found on the streets becomes a kind of a still-life: an almost dead memento for an event that is about to pass into obscurity.  As the artist himself stated ‘no matter where I go, I always find places and environments that are in the process of falling down…I want to capture the last signs of optimism before inevitable disrepair.’

What is touching about these recent works is the evidence of the lone presence of the artist, made obvious by the intrusive camera flash. The startling harshness of the flash, forcefully singles out ubiquitous elements like a graffiti on a wall or a discarded piece of cardboard, from their everyday context. It is almost as if the photographer wants to exhume the loneliness contained in these unloved things and let the audience find a reflection of their own trashy love story. As such, the series becomes almost cathartic. Indeed, by concentrating on things discarded and refused by society, Sloggett asks us to pause and contemplate on the passage of time, mortality but also the extremely touching pleas for communication and connection (like the scrawl in wet concrete which says ‘U R ALONE’) that we tend to overlook in the rush flow of our daily lives.
The strength of Sloggett’s images lies in the photographer’s ability to retain the presence of these objects and environments, while simultaneously transforming them into metaphors.

Sloggett, who won the prestigious John and Margaret Baker fellowship for an emerging artist in 2001, has been widely exhibited in Australia as well being included in surveys of Australian photography overseas. He is also represented in major museum collections such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Despite this relative prominence on the art scene, the photographer continues to work in a factory manufacturing plastic vacuum moldings on the outskirts of suburban Melbourne, remaining vitally connected to the environment that feeds his art.

Glenn Sloggett’s one man show ‘A white trash love story’ was held at the Stills Gallery, Sydney, between February 1-25, 2012.

VG

‘Industrial Symphony’ exhibition closes in Yerevan

Hayrapetian Anahit. Corridor. 'Metsamor' nuclear station. 2011. Winner of Lusadaran's 1st prize

Opening on the 3rd of December 2011, Lusadaran’s inaugural exhibition ‘Industrial symphony: photography and the post-industrial age’ has finished its run on the 27th of January 2012 at the Armenian Centre of Contemporary Experimental Arts in Yerevan.  Comprised of over 70 works by 19 contemporary Armenian photographers, the exhibition presented an overview of how perceptions and ideas about industry and labour have changed and evolved in the post-Soviet landscape through the medium of photography. A small selection of works by a classic of Armenian industrial photography, Hakob Hekekian, gave a retrospective and elucidating historical context to the images created in the last few years. Purposefully varied and expansive, the different trajectories and approaches  present in the show, also gave a rare insight into the multifarious state of contemporary Armenian photography.

The exhibition served as an opportunity to present Lusadaran’s first award for contemporary photography. Generously sponsored by the Armenian entrepreneur Vachagan Petrosyan, the main prize, to the value of 200 000 drams (approx. US $530) was presented to the work ‘Corridor. Metsamor nuclear station’ 2011 by Anahit Hayrapetyan. This acquisitive prize is one of the ways that Lusadaran aims to encourage contemporary art photography in Armenia and ensures that it is properly represented in the foundation’s collections. A second, non-acquisitive prize, was kindly initiated by the creator of the www.photo.am site, Art Ghazaryan. Valued at 100 000 drams, the prize was awarded to one of the youngest participants of the exhibition, the 23 year old Irina Grigoryan.

Critic, art historian Vardan Azatyan (Armenia) and film historian Chaga Yuzbachyan (France) presided over the jury. According to Mr Azatyan, the choice of a winner was extremely difficult due to the variety of approaches and general strength of all of the works. The selection of Anahit Hayrapetyan’s photograph was cemented by its dispassionately documentary yet conceptually rich and unexpected treatment of the subject matter. Ms Yuzbachyan also noted that they were impressed by the freshness and originality of Irina Grigoryan’s series ‘Gortsaranayin’, which stood out from the overall exhibition with its lyrical sensibility and vivid imagination.

A catalogue with an extensive essay and entries on all the participants is currently in preparation. The exhibition was also accompanied by a special film program called ‘The Dreaming Machine’ which looked at the theme of industry in cinema as it evolved from Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ (1925) to Duncan Jonse’s ‘Moon’ (2009). The program screened at ‘The Club’ café throughout December and was supported by Yerevan’s longest-running unofficial ‘cinematheque’ Art Film Gallery and its creator, Melik Karapetyan. ‘Industrial Symphony’ was generously sponsored by financial contributions from Vachagan Nazaryan and Hakob Grigoryan (Australia).

A first personal exhibition for Irina Grigoryan

A selection of works by the talented young photographer Irina Grigoryan will appear at a small group show in Yerevan ‘A Very Simple Exhibition’. The other participants of the show are printmakers Mariam Hakhnazaryan and Lilith Arshakyan who will exhibit graphic works.

Irina was one of the youngest photographers to be included in ‘Industrial Symphony: photography and the post-industrial age’ exhibition which is currently on view at ACCEA (NPAK) in Yerevan until January the 28th. Her series of small black and white photographs called ‘Gortsaranayin’, impressed the jury of this show, who awarded it the second prize given by ‘Lusadaran’ foundation of Armenian photography.

Grigoryan’s work has a special place in contemporary Armenian photography as she is one of the very few current practitioners who works with analog formats, printing all her work in the darkroom on gelatin silver paper. Typically for Grigoryan, the photographs included in ‘A Very Simple Exhibition’ explore ideas of childhood, femininity and memory.

The exhibition opened on the 27th of December at ‘Yellow Street’, Tumanyan 40-63 and will close on Friday, the 29th.

Conflicted visions: Gabriel Lekegian and the Oriental imagination

Upcoming exhibition project, 2017

Tracing the life and work of the enigmatic Egyptian-Armenian photographer Gabriel Lekegian, ‘Conflicted Visions’ is an attempt to re-evaluated his place within the annals of late 19th century Middle Eastern and ‘Orientalist’ photography.

Although ‘Photographie Artistique G. Lekegian & Co.’ produced some of the best known images of Egypt between 1880s and 1900s, little is known about their creator. Moreover, no effort has been made to properly evaluate this complex body of work that depicts all aspects of Egyptian life during a period of cataclysmic cultural, social and political transformations. A highly successful operator who was enlisted as the official photographer to the British Army in Egypt in the 1890s, Lekegian was also an active participant in international exhibitions, such as the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Nevertheless, the man behind the camera remained in the shadows, preferring to leave his personal life unexposed.

Drawn entirely from Lusadaran’s collection, this is the first exhibition that will showcase the immense variety of Lekegian studio output through close to fifty vintage photographs from 1880s to 1920s. These works are divided into two major groups. The early production which was carried out by or under direct supervision from Lekegian between 1880s and 1900s is followed by photographs made in the first two decades of the 20th century when the studio was sold by Lekegian, but preserved his name. Although made by different photographers, these later images were strongly influenced by the overall stylistic and thematic approaches developed by Lekegian.

Ranging from typical Orientalist subject matter such as architectural ruins, ethnographic types to early forms of industrial and documentary photography these commercial photographs remain a fascinating, albeit conflicted record of an Eastern country on the path of modernisation.

Extensive research undertaken over a ten year period will throw much needed light on Lekegian’s prolific career and mysterious biography. An accompanying catalog will be published to coincide with the exhibition. Exhibition venues and dates will be released in 2017.

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