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Monday, 21 July 2014

Istanbul MoMA: photo exhibit with Armenian touch

I will post more pics from this photo exhibit and Istanbul Museum of Modern Art in my upcoming posts, but here is a selection of Armenian-themed photos from the "ON THE ROAD / Images of Turkey from the Nar Photos Archive". I spent more time exploring this exhibit than anywhere else in the museum. Pay attention to the description that accompanied each photo.



*"A citizen of Armenia fixing his car on the way to Yerevan. Situated at the crossroads between Turkey, Armenia and Iran, 5 165 meters high Mount Ararat can be seen from all three countries. Yerevan, Ermenistan, 2008" [Unzipped: Interestingly, in English they use “Mount Ararat”, in Turkish “Agri Dagi”]



*"From the “Horovel” project carried out in villages on the Turkish-Armenian border; interview with Tigranuhi Asatryan, a survivor of 1915. Tigranuhi, who was 100 years old when the interview was conducted, shows a picture of herself when she was young. Gumru, 2010"



*"Ceremony held at the Balikli Armenian Cemetery after the march attended by over 100 000 people following the assassination of journalist Hrant Dink. Istanbul, 2007"



*"The Church of the Virgin Mary, adorned with Easter eggs to celebrate one of the most important days for Christians. It is believed that Jesus Christ was resurrected on this day, which is called Surp Zadik by Armenians. Istanbul, 2007"

Sunday, 27 April 2014

London: Ukraine protest stand against Russian aggression

When reaching Whitehall (government district in London) during the Armenian Genocide Commemorative March on 26 April 2014, I noticed this Ukrainian protest stand against Russian aggression. There was also Gambian protest action there.


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Yerevan Diaries: Akanat - art cafe with a difference (“book menu”)

Akanat instantly became one of my most favourite places in Yerevan. It's an art cafe, with cool design, relaxing and friendly atmosphere, interesting crowd. They regularly hold art, literature events there. (see Akanat's Facebook page)

Along with the food/drinks menu, you get the “book menu” too, with a selection of mainly contemporary publications by Armenian and foreign authors. Absolutely loved the idea.


I chose “Կիկոսի վերադարձը” by writer Armen Ohanyan.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Yerevan Diaries: Cinema Star, "family space", film censorship, Lars von Trier and Parajanov

Here we are. Previously announced screening of Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac has been cancelled by Cinema Star (part of recently opened Dalma Garden Mall Western style shopping centre in Yerevan), due to unspecified “complaints by individuals and groups". A day or two ago, I remember seeing this film being referred to as “porno-drama” by some on Armenian Facebook.

This reminded me hysteria and eventual cancellation of gay themed Parada film screening a year or so ago.

Even more outrageous, ridiculous, you name it, was Cinema Star's bullsh*t statement 'justifying' the cancelation of film screening by ‘cinema is a family space’ line.
«Որոշման համար հիմք են հանդիսացել մի շարք քաղաքացիների եւ հասարակական խմբերի բազմաթիվ առարկությունները, որոնք կասկած են հայտնել Հայաստանում մեծ էկրանով ֆիլմի ցուցադրության նպատակահարմարության վերաբերյալ: 2013 թվականին բացվելուց անմիջապես հետո Սինեմա Սթար Դալմա Գարդենը դարձավ «ընտանեկան տարածք» եւ երեւանցիների հանգստի սիրելի վայրերից մեկը: Հաշվի առնելով այդ հանգամանքը` մենք որոշեցինք խուսափել իրավիճակից, երբ ֆիլմի ցուցադրությունը կարող է հակասական կարծիքներ առաջացնել մեր այցելուների մոտ», - ասված է հաղորդագրության մեջ:
Forgetting for a moment such an utter nonsense as cinema calling itself a “family space”… If this was the case (which it is not, of course!), then why on earth did they announce the film's screening in the first place?!

If this is a some kind of “family space” cinema, then one would expect the showcase of only “U” or “PG”, or at the very maximum “12+” rating films there. One would expect. One would be wrong.

The even bigger irony is that this very cinema is currently screening a film that is as far from a “family friendly” notion as it can get - The Wolf of Wall Street, released in the UK under “18+” rating. A picture, still from The Wolf of Wall Street, is currently making rounds on Armenian sector of Facebook, along with abundance of jokes, memes and ridicules towards the Cinema Star and their statement.

But there is more ridiculousness incorporated within the statement. They also mentioned that they wanted avoiding the situation when a film’s screening generates “conflicting opinions” among cinema visitors… What?!… I have now ‘conflicting’ urge to laugh or scream…. Isn’t this the best that any film screening could achieve?!

This is a case of censorship, simple and plain. You better remove Parajanov’s picture from your foyer. You don't deserve such associations. You would have succumb to censorship and censor Parajanov too. Because you are such a coward, or as well known Armenian DJ Vakcina described on her FB page (translit AM): “vaxkot u tssik Cinema Star Armenia !”


Speculations are abound as to who is behind this cancellation. Some say it's the church, but no clear confirmation yet.

So here we are. Yesterday it was Parada, today it is Nymphomaniac… What awaits Armenia tomorrow?… Back to the USSR?… or shall I say forward to the Customs Union?

In this age of internet, don't they realise that censorship won't work in Armenia and will only achieve an opposite effect, generating even more interest about (in this case) the film… Don’t they realise how ridiculous they look now - both those who gave the orders and those who complied with such orders.

In the meantime, while publicly, with such stupid actions some want to present an image of Armenia as some kind of backwards, morality and ‘traditional values’ obsessed nation, word ‘porno’ is on top of most widely searched by Armenians online.

In any case, I will never go to any cinema or venue that supports or gave in to censorship.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Yerevan Diaries: no phallic-shaped Christmas lights but plenty of festive decor and warmth amid freezing temperature

With the “Old New Year” of 13th Jan formally closing down the festive period in Armenia and ex-Soviet states, I will start posting some of my latest Yerevan observations under the Yerevan Diaries label.

This will mainly be a collation of my selected #YerevanDiaries daily tweets @unzippedblog directly from Yerevan, with few more observatory notes or pics.

It was (still is) unusually cold in Yerevan, with the freezing temperature ranging from minus 10 to minus 18 C, but the warmth of family, those precious offline moments with dearest craziest awesome friends in Yerevan made this cutting cold so much more bearable.

So here we are. The first post this year with some of festive pics and Christmas decorations from Yerevan.

There were no phallic-shaped Christmas lights on Abovyan st. in downtown Yerevan [picture circulated on FB was a joke and not taken in Yerevan] but there were plenty of tasteful and tasteless Christmas decorations.


*Candle... or not. All depends on your perception ;)) 


*My favourite Cascade





*Each time I enter Republic sq, the changing lights of the main Christmas tree there turned... blue. I am not kidding. It was pretty hilarious coincidence that became part of talks in the town and my daily routine. No comment, indeed ;))

Happy New Year from Yerevan !! May LOVE rule xxx


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

#PUTinOUT - protesters in Armenia say “Putin, you are not welcome”, denounce ruling regime

Russian president Putin's visit in Armenia happened on a day when Soviets took over control of independent first Republic of Armenia (2 December 1920). Symbolic, eh? Loss of the independence a century ago, the effective loss of the independence now, after Armenia ruling regime ditched the EU integration in favour of Russia-led customs union. The election motto of Armenia’s ruling republican party was “forward, Armenia”. In practice, they have been doing whatever possible and impossible to turn Armenia steadily into a backwards direction.

*Source: Photolure

People took to the streets in Yerevan to say “Putin, you are not welcome in Armenia”, or using Twitter language - #PUTinOUT. They were out in the streets to denounce ruling regime.

*source: shushanblansh

A very diverse “Sovereign Armenia Initiative Group", including a range from ultra-nationalist, far right to very liberal groups and individuals was established on Facebook, with the aim to hold protest actions against Russian president Putin’s visit to Armenia and against decision by Armenia’s ruling regime to join the Russia-led customs union. In a statement, the Initiative says “Armenians are protesting their government’s September 3rd decision to join the Russian-led Customs Union and pull back from the EU Association Agreement”. The statement then continues: “If implemented, the Russian-lead Customs Union, as the latest attempt by Putin to reestablish formal control of former soviet states, would hand over significant portions of Armenian sovereignty to a primarily Russian controlled and unaccountable commission. As such, membership in this union is unconstitutional and illegal. Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union was a direct result of Russian pressure unbefitting 21st century diplomacy, and more inline with archaic imperial ambitions. Moreover President Serzh Sargsyan, having come to power through fraudulent elections, lacks the legitimacy to make such a decision or to speak on behalf of the Armenian people or in the name of Armenian national interest.”

Reflecting massive protests of revolutionary scale in Ukraine, the Armenian Initiative expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian protesters: “As a sign of solidarity and taking inspiration from the Ukrainian people, Armenians will be carrying Ukrainian flags and expressing their support for their compatriots in Ukraine.” Quite a few of Armenian and Ukrainian flags were later confiscated by police.

Around 1000 people participated in a protest action that was unprecedented for Armenia, considering traditional pro-Russia stance and huge pro-Russia propaganda. A massive detention of estimated 110 protesters followed (most if not all of them were later released). This was truly a police state in progress in Armenia and an indication of things to come with the putinisation of Armenia.

*source: Photolure

The protest action started early in the morning when activists put up large signs in different Yerevan locations denouncing ruling regime and Russia’s president visit. Several activists were detained and later released. Detentions, intimidation followed throughout the day.



“#PUTinOUT”, “Russia is for sad people”, “No to putinism”, “Serj has no people’s mandate”, “Stop RUSSIA” (with “SS” written in red)… these are just few of numerous posters hold by protesters.

*source: CivilNet.am
*source: @nkayserian

It was unprecedented on so many levels. In what was a historic first time ever in Armenia, a rainbow flag was used during a protest action.

*source: @nkayserian

This resulted in a brief scuffle, when ultranationalist participants of the march (from Hayazn group) attacked and harassed activists holding a rainbow flag. For more details - see Unzipped: Gay Armenia - Historic first: Armenia activist holds rainbow flag during #PUTinOUT protest action in Yerevan

Sadly, few days ago, a well known Soviet dissident Natalya Gorbanevskaya passed away. She famously organised a protest action against Soviets military intervention into Czechoslovakia in 1968: “For your and our freedom”. Simple words, and so deep in meaning, and so telling. Current as ever. Revolution in Ukraine. Protests in Armenia. "За вашу и нашу свободу”.

P.S. As news on protest action kept coming, another news broke that ArmRosGazprom is losing the “Arm” part, with Gazprom taking over 100% of the ownership.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Zaruhi - An Gordonach! feat. Assadook - music video highlights problem of domestic violence in Armenia

Difficult to watch, but do watch it. Do not shy away from the problem of domestic violence in Armenia.

[On 25 November, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, "Coalition to Stop Violence against Women" and activists will march in downtown Yerevan to raise awareness about domestic violence in Armenia.]

 

*source: An Gordonach Scottish-Armenian rock project

"Zaruhi" concentrates on the tragic story of Zaruhi Petrosyan, who was beaten to death by her husband and mother-in-law in Masis, Armenia, in 2010. The song was developed jointly with Iranian electronic artist Assadook and marks a departure from the An Gordonach!'s usual style. The video for the track was directed and edited by Vanadzori filmmaker Raffi Ghazaryan, and includes young Armenian acting talent, including Vahe Mkhitaryan and Ani Oganesyan, who share in the belief of raising awareness on violence against women.

Zaruhi

 'Am I a piece of wool to him?' I wondered as the bruises blackened. The hand that once caressed ignored my pleas and struck again.

Why?

How did I provoke him to shatter my bones? My light was fading fast, I felt so alone.

He snatched the phone and broke my fingers one by one, his mother shrieked and whipped my back. Thrown down the stairs I could not cry for help, blood filled my nose and mouth, my skull cracked as it hit the floor.

Why?

Did I really slip and fall? Do you accept that as the truth? Did the raining blows make him more of a man as I whimpered through my broken teeth?

Don't forget my suffering, though I might be one of many souls. Don't turn your back to this abhorrence and pretend it disappears.

Don't let more girls share my fate though your ignorance and cowardice. Confront this evil in your midst I just won't fade away...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Prominent Armenians issue statement in support of LGBT human rights (in English and Armenian)

More than two-dozen prominent Armenians in the Diaspora have signed a statement supporting equality and justice for all in Armenia. Among the signatories are poet Diana Der Hovanessian,
filmmaker Atom Egoyan, actor and producer Arsinée Khanjian, musician Serj Tankian, and photographer Scout Tufankjian. This array of Armenian artists, intellectuals and professionals felt moved to release this statement in the light of anti-gay legislation that was recently proposed in Yerevan. “This anti-gay legislation is part of a disturbing pattern of intolerance for marginalized people and opposition voices in Armenia,” said publisher Veken Gueyikian. Writer Nancy Agabian said, “People of conscience must not stand by as our LGBT cousins are targeted and demonized.” The statement represents their collective commitment to human rights and to Armenia’s nascent civil society movements.

For more background see:

Armenian Gay and Lesbian Alliance Statement Against Armenian Police Proposal http://aglany.org/2013/10/28/statement-against-armenian-police-proposal/

Amnesty Documents Widespread harassment of Armenia’s LGBT Community http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/08/22/amnesty-documents-widespread-harassment-of-armenias-lgbt-community/

Human Rights Watch Letter to Armenian President Regarding Proposed Anti-LGBT Legislation http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/10/18/letter-armenian-president-regarding-proposal-anti-lgbt-legislation

Statement

“In response to reports of draft ‘anti-propaganda’ legislation in Armenia, modeled on Russia’s recently passed and widely condemned bill, we, the undersigned members of the global Armenian community, say such attempts to codify anti-gay prejudice into law are contrary to our values. We believe in dignity, equality and the right to self-expression for all people regardless of religion, sexual orientation, gender, or race.”

Nancy Agabian
Mika Artyan
Arlene Avakian
Peter Balakian
Anthony Barsamian
David Barsamian
Eve Beglarian
Chris Bohjalian
Melissa Boyajian
Diana Der Hovanessian
Atom Egoyan
Dahlia Elsayed
Houry Geudelekian
Veken Gueyikian
Nonny Hogrogian
Aris Janigian
Nina Katchadourian
Nishan Kazazian
Arsinee Khanjian
David Kherdian
Nancy Kricorian
Micheline Aharonian Marcom
Neery Melkonian
Arthur Nersesian
Joan Aghajanian Quinn
Aram Saroyan
Serj Tankian
Scout Tufankjian
Hrag Vartanian
***
[in Armenian - below]

Սփյուռքի ավելի քան երկու տասնյակ նշանավոր հայեր միացել են Հայաստանում` բոլորի համար հավասարության և արդարության ապահովման մասին հայտարարությանը: Նրանց թվում են բանաստեղծ Դիանա Տեր-Հովանեսյանը, կինոռեժիսոր Ատոմ Էգոյանը, դերասան և պրոդյուսեր Արսինե Խանջյանը, երաժիշտ Սերժ Թանկյանը, և լուսանկարիչ Սկաուտ Թուֆանկջյանը: Հայ արտիստների, մտավորականների ու մասնագետների այս խումբը անհարժեշտ համարեցին հրապարակել այս հայտարարությունը` հաշվի առնելով նույնասեռականության դեմ օրինագիծը, որը վերջերս առաջարկվել էր Երեւանում: «Նույնասեռականության դեմ այս օրինագիծը Հայաստանում խոցելի մարդկանց և ընդդիմադիր ձայների նկատմամբ անհանդուրժողականության մտահոգիչ օրինակ է»,- ասել է հրատարակիչ Վիգեն Գվիկյանը: Գրող Նենսի Ագաբյանն ասել է. «Մտահոգ մարդիկ չպետք է անտարբեր մնան, երբ ԼԳԲՏ մեր բարեկամները թիրախավորվում և պիտակավորվում են»: Հայտարարությունը ներկայացնում է նրանց միահամուռ նվիրվածությունը մարդու իրավունքներին և Հայաստանի քաղաքացիական հասարակության ծնունդ առնող շարժումներին:

Այլ մանրամասների համար կարդացեք նաև.

ԱԳԼԱ Նյու-Յորքի հայտարարությունն ընդդեմ «քարոզչության» օրենքի ներկայացմանը http://aglany.org/2013/10/28/statement-against-armenian-police-proposal/

Ամնեսթին փաստագրել է համատարած բռնություն Հայաստանում ԼԳԲՏ անձանց նկատմամբ (անգլերեն)
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/08/22/amnesty-documents-widespread-harassment-of-armenias-lgbt-community/

Հյուման Ռայթս Վոթչի նամակը ՀՀ Նախագահին` նույնասեռականության դեմ ներկայացված օրինագծի վերաբերյալ (անգլերեն)
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/10/18/letter-armenian-president-regarding-proposal-anti-lgbt-legislation

Հայտարարություն

Ի պատասխան Հայաստանում շրջանառված «հակաքարոզչական» օրենսդրության նախագծի` ձևավորված Ռուսաստանում վերջերս ընդունված և լայնորեն դատապարտված օրինագծի օրինակով, մենք, համընդհանուր հայկական համայնքի ներքոստորագրյալ ներկայացուցիչներս, համոզված ենք, որ նույնասեռականության դեմ նախապաշարմունքների օրենսդրորեն ամրագրման փորձերը հակասում են մեր արժեքներին: Մենք հավատում ենք, որ արժանապատվությունը, հավասարությունը և ինքնարտահայտման իրավունքը բոլորի համար են` անկախ կրոնից, սեռական կողմնորոշումից, գենդերից կամ ռասայից:

Նենսի Ագաբյան
Միկա Արթյան
Առլեն Ավագյան
Պիտեր Բալակյան
Անտոնի Բարսամյան
Դեյվիդ Բարսամյան
Եվա Բեգլարյան
Քրիս Բոհջալյան
Մելիսա Բոյաջյան
Դիանա Տեր-Հովանեսյան
Ատոմ Էգոյան
Դահիլա Էլսայեդ
Հուրի Գյուդելեքյան
Վիգեն Գվիկյան
Նոնի Հոգրոգյան
Արիս Ջանիգյան
Նինա Խաչադուրյան
Նիշան Կազազյան
Արսինե Խանջյան
Դավիդ Խերդյան
Նենսի Գրիգորյան
Միշելին Ահարոնյան Մարկոմ
Նիրի Մելքոնյան
Արթուր Ներսեսյան
Ջոան Աղաջանյան Քուին
Արամ Սարոյան
Սերժ Թանկյան
Սկաուտ Թուֆանկջյան
Հրագ Վարդանյան

*picture - via PINK Armenia