Best of Curious Curators 

2022 Creative Armenia Week brings you a gripping discussion with Armenian curators on all things visual arts

August 5 , 2022  |  by Creative Armenia

DAY 2, Curious Curators – Curation can be a job. But it can also be a responsibility: a set of deeply harbored tasks, meditations, and rules to carry with you wherever you go. The speakers of the 2022 Creative Armenia Week’s second panel fit the latter to a tee. The panelists differ in the nature of their care. Armen Yesayants is paying close attention to the past and present of arts as a Director of Exhibitions at the Cafesjian Center for the Arts. Eva Khachatryan puts the work of Armenian artists on the global map with her annual curation of the Armenian Art Fair. Vigen Galstyan gives a new breath to the forgotten Armenian photography. Yet all three of them share one mission, relentlessly trying to make sense, translate, and care for ideas, collective memories, sensibilities, stories, and histories. 

 

Curious Curators panel discussion was as hopeful, critical, and alert, as are the curious curators themselves. With the masterful moderation of Anna Gargarian, curator and Creative Strategist and Lead at KATAPULT Creative Accelerator Program at AGBU, the curators stepped into the spotlight to share their insights. Listen to their panel discussion, read the highlights, explore references, and start noticing. 

 

The misconception of “putting things together”

“Talking about curating, in general, I think there is a confusion. Especially when we speak about the Armenian term. I think many people know the term ‘hamadrox’ (համադրող) which, if translated literally to English, means ‘somebody that puts things together.’ In a broader – philosophical sense – maybe it's right. But physically putting things together makes it feel like exhibition curators are people who are just picking pieces and want them to look cute, Instagram-friendly, or nice in some space. But curating is more than that. I am interested in how I can put my academic background as an art historian to give curating a practical application, to translate artists or art or cultural layers for a broader public.”

– Armen Yesayants 

 

Translating art

“As a curator, I am somebody who is translating a certain kind of idea, world, era, or concept into a system that is socially, politically, and aesthetically recognizable in the time and place I am at. That is vital.”

– Vigen Galstyan 

 

Educating the public 

“Education is one of the main problems that we have. Our institutions, academies, and universities until now don't have contemporary art or general art education. And for that reason, we should not be surprised that the public and audiences very often are not ready for the projects we are implementing here.”

– Eva Khachatryan 

 

Mission: Prepare the audience 

“When we're talking about a local art scene, it is not as much about appeasing the hypersensitive society, as it is about preparing the audience for contemporary art in general. When we are talking about local art – local public understanding – it's not about the same trends as the ones prevalent in the world. In that sense, we are 10-20 years behind.” 

— Armen Yesayants 

 

The audience is your friend

“Oftentimes, especially when it comes to contemporary art, a lot of young curators tend to forget that it is not about attacking and provoking or going against the audience. Curating is about allowing a nurturing environment – a space where people can feel generally safe, willing, and interested – to encounter something that they've never seen before.”

– Vigen Galstyan 

 

Armenian art is collective 

“I think that contemporary art in Armenia is based on collectivity. When we talk about self-organization, it means it cannot be done in solitude. It's done collectively. But I think it doesn't matter if these are curators coming together or artists and curators coming together. I think it's important to be in a collective to create something really exciting.”

— Eva Khachatryan 


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