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Snippets: “How to Take the Artworld by Storm”

Cultural icons Serj Tankian, Eric Bogosian, Angela Sarafyan, and Eric Esrailian meditate on Armenian identity in the arts, share stories of their early careers and big breaks, and recall their Armenian inspirations

June 3, 2021  |  by Creative Armenia

Creative Armenia Week (May 17-21, 2021) was an unprecedented meeting of minds, ideas, and imaginations. To better enjoy the kick-off panel “How to Take the Artworld by Storm,” we have compiled quips, quotes, hot takes, and recommended readings (and viewings) for you. 


 Eric Bogosian 


“Armenian for me was a lot of older relatives who spoke Armenian. It was an equation with old people. It was just a myth. And then I did Ararat with Atom. And all of a sudden it ran through me. I was transported back to that time and I started to understand that it was a much bigger thing than I had known or thought about. And I built a huge appetite for finding out who I am.”


Serj Tankian 


“I think art is inspired by the collective consciousness. Whatever content there is, it comes from the collective consciousness and at best we’re skilled presenters. We are inspired by something in our time, the things that we experience, the things that move us. And if we are able to properly move others through that inspiration, co-inspire, then there is already an intuitive interaction. So if someone feels that kind of a right-brain, emotional response to a piece of music that moves them then they can process the left-brain lyrical content, the psychological structure of what is being said. Together that can create activism, emotion.”


Eric Esrailian 


“For me, especially when it comes to Armenian-related projects, it has everything to do with the potential impact. Thinking about ways that I can take our culture, our community to another level, and create opportunities for other people.”


Angela Sarafyan 


“When I just started in this business they said, ‘Your face, it’s so exotic. What is Armenian? Maybe you should change your last name to Angela Sarah.’ Change your last name, get your nose done, get your chin implanted, change everything so you will fit into what a lot of people look like now. You've got the cliche of these Angelina Jolie looks. But I went, “But beauty is imperfection.” It is the imperfection of the outside telling us, you have to have big lips and a small nose, and this and that to look beautiful. To that, I say this is my heritage right here [Creative Armenia note: she pointed at her nose]. And this, and these eyes. I'm not going to erase it, as I'm not going to change my last name. Because that is who I am.”

Alec Mouhibian 

“Funny word that keeps popping up in my mind when I think of what is Armenian and how it can be more than Genocide, which we have been forced to identify with, just because it hasn’t been recognized and still hasn’t been recognized by the people who most matter… Turks. The word is recognition, I feel. There is so much more to recognize, there is this constant theme of recognition in the Armenian world. First, you have to recognize that you are Armenian if you grew up in a diaspora, especially if you are Western Armenian and have that extra remove from Armenia, from when you were living in Armenia in your prior self. One thing that Creative Armenia is about is recognizing talent. I think what we are trying to do now is recognize what else it means to be Armenian and how it can really enrich the type of work you do.”  

Recommended reading, viewing, googling from our panelists: 


  • Talk Radio, written by Eric Bogosian and Oliver Stone; directed by Oliver Stone

  • Ararat, written and directed by Atom Egoyan; starring Eric Bogosian and Arsinée Khanjian 

  • Uncut Gems, starring Eric Bogosian; directed by Josh and Benny Safdie

  • 1915, starring Angela Sarafyan and Simon Abkarian; directed by Garin Hovannisian and Alec Mouhibian; music by Serj Tankian

  • The Promise, starring Angela Sarayian; produced by Eric Esrailian; directed by Terry George 

  • Intent to Destroy, produced by Eric Esrailian; music by Serj Tankian; directed by Joe Berlinger 

  • Truth to Power, starring and produced by Serj Tankian; written and directed by Garin Hovannisian

  • I Am Not Alone, directed by Garin Hovannisian, produced by Eric Esrailian, Garin Hovannisian, Alec Mouhibian, Serj Tankian; music by Serj Tankian 

  • Francesco, produced by Eric Esrailian; directed by Evgeny Afineevsky

  • Army of Crime, staring Simon Abkarian; directed by Robert Guédiguian

  • The Colour of Pomegranates, written and directed by Sergei Parajanov 

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or any movie directed by Rouben Mamoulian





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