Frontiers of Europe
Eriz Moreno Aranguren & Constanze Müller
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FRONTIERS OF EUROPE is a magazine series exploring – through investigation – the geographical, political, and cultural boundaries of different territories on the frontier of Europe; with a specific focus on territories with a not well-known culture for the most of the inhabitants in Western Europe.

The publication which “snapshots” chosen territories’ culture and society at a certain time, each magazine comprises a collection of material both taken by the authors or achieved after research of archives and/or interviews with local key individuals of each territory’s contemporary cultural scene (with an special interest on visual arts, politics and society), because of their role as seismographs and representatives of a society’s reflective observation and creative thinking.

The approach to each place is not to set a foreign view to it, but to sensitively collect local perspectives in discussions and interviews. Following these links, the aim of each publication is to depict a deeper perspective by documenting each of the participants’ experiences through inputs (images, texts and artefacts). In this sense, the interviews are thought to get a picture of some chosen people’s backgrounds, perspectives, hopes and dreams for their country as well as their understanding how they see Europe and their relationships to its identity.

The magazine series, created by the artist Eriz Moreno Aranguren and the art communicator Constanze Müller, offers an artistic approach and leads to a deeper understanding of the inner perspective of territories on the frontiers of Europe.

 

#Armenia / ISBN: 978-84-606-9025-2

The initial point of #ARMENIA is formed by its cultural and political conflicts as well as the unclear geographical situation and the Armenian mixed culture with European and Asian influences forms the Armenian culture as an “culture-in-between”. This hybrid make-up is supported by the fact that the Armenian culture is also influenced by its diaspora. Like this, the question of the nation’s identity confidence has an interesting point to discover.

Starting from a Western-European perspective, Armenia above all is more known for the Genocide than for its social-cultural development of the last 100 years. In the Western-European stereotypical perspective it is often classified as an adventurous and secret country. The mountainous scenery, the conflict about Mount Ararat and Nagorno Karabakh and the smallness of the state territory contribute to this rather dramatic transfiguration. Our research focused on the questions, how Armenians see themselves, and how they see Europe.

The current identity conflict also comes from the fact that, as a former Soviet Socialist Republic, the influence of Russia is still strong in politics and society, even if the attempts for independence from 1991 officially allow an autonomous policy of alliances to Western partners. On account of its democracy aspiration and its Christian heritage, Armenia gets on to a Europe-turned society. In this respect, from June 2010 negotiations to assimilate Armenia to the “Eastern Partnership” were begun within the EU and the Armenian government. Nevertheless since Armenia’s stronger approach to its old partner Russia, culminating in a gas supply agreement with Russia in December 2013, which approximated the country to the Eurasian Customs Union, these negotiation are nowadays considered as a nearly frozen process.

To start the discussions on the field of current identity and cultural constructions of Armenia, the research started with three thematic workshops where the participants – Lala Alikyan (activist), Art Laboratory (artistic group), Susanna Gyulamiryan (art critic, curator), Vahram Jaloyan (cultural critic), Arevik Martirosyan (sociologist, activist), Varham Martirvosyan (writer), Vahram Soghmoyan (political scientist), Hasmik Amiraghyan (philologist, translator) – gave short presentations about their perception of European influences in Armenian history, about the make-up of Armenian culture and the current political situation. The presenters also created maps, visual representations of the connections between different concepts or their ideas. In the end, the participants in the workshops felt constrained by the group format of these discussions, so the working way transitioned to one-on-one interviews.
These conversations were far more intense, and the interviewees were very articulate discussing Armenian culture and how they felt as Armenian individuals, citizens and artists. One of the participants even created a piece of art that followed the interview.

The publication shows a choice of three interviews with the artists Karen Alekyan and Ara Petrosyan and the political scientist Vahram Soghmoyan. Both artists have very interesting career trajectories – both coming from classical academic painting, who transformed their artistic working way into contemporary artistic practices of performance, video art and participative art– genres of art, which are underrepresented in the Armenian contemporary art.

- Karen Alekyan speaks about his difficult role as artist in the Armenian society, his relation to the Armenian state and his wishes for the future. In this interview he created the idea to his video work “Maps of the Future” (2014), where he describes his visions on a global society.
- Ara Petrosyan, politically very active as well, explains critically the life conditions of an Armenian artist and the Armenian art system.
- Vahram Soghmoyan compares the political situations of Armenia with Western Europe from the background that he graduated in Germany and is very much involved in many citizen`s initiatives in Yerevan who fight against the government for more participation in political processes.

In addition, the magazine includes texts, which give diverse perspectives from different sectors of society like from Hakob Matevosyan about the Armenian diaspora, Terry Eagleton about the role of football in the society and a responding article by Dave Zirin, from Wolfgang Kaschuba about the relation between politics and identity in Armenia, and from Angela Harutyunyan about the curator`s role in Armenia.

The first publication of the FRONTIERS OF EUROPE project is based on a research during a residence from 15th January to 17th of June 2014 at the “Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory” in Yerevan, Armenia.

 

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