Oh hai all, missed the ER community a lot! I know I promised to give an update about my activities since moving to Nagorno Karabagh/Artsakh last autumn to some of you, including @alberto, @alex_levene and @unknown_author so here we go.
First of all, I regret I failed to participate at Openvillage Festival in Brussels and the camp in Morocco (I can’t believe I am not there) while relocating and reorganizing my life due to circumstances. I also fu*ked up and lost some side projects that provided me with a minimal income keeping me afloat because bad internet, oh well.
It’s been hectic and disturbing at times, but I guess I made it, after 5 months, I can finally say I feel home in this war-torn region where people are still traumatized and need healing. I got a community too!
I felt lonely and questioned my decision many times, but then I decided to view my time here as a voluntary exile, a sort of residency, with time to reflect and work on my future projects related to human borders, war traumas, collective memory, conscription and how it affects lives…away from the bubble of Yerevan and putting myself and my capacities to test, feeling what I always felt, but sharper and stronger.
So, here are the things I’ve been doing since moving out of my comfort zone:
I managed to coordinate and curate a group exhibition in Yerevan about the lives of Syrian refugees in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh in Yerevan
I finalized my project draft “Juggling Dinosaurs” that tackles the issues of parenting and the role of mothers in Post Soviet reality. The project aims to interrogate female art practitioners experience of being mothers, and to question social expectations and norms which frame this role. After completing my research I plan to host a residency for parents in Armenia, providing the freedom for them to work independently or alongside their children, encouraging opportunities to work in collaboration with other artists by creating a supportive and inspiring network.
As I’ve witnessed a lot of violence in this society(a vicious circle of army, patriarchy and war) which exists in families and outside, even in institutions like my daughter’s kindergarten, I’m working with the local government/Ministry of Education, trying to find ways to train the teachers and teach about non-violent methods of education. I made a deal with an alternative school in Yerevan that agreed to host and train teachers from Martuni free of charge, now waiting for the Ministry of Education to approve the project(meeting with the Minister this Friday). The training will be followed up so it’s not going to be a one time event. Alternatively I am drafting a project to host seminars here for parents and teachers on healing the war traumas in collaboration with the Women’s Resource Center
Organising a contemporary art festival in Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabakh with the aim to decentralize art and culture from Yerevan and help Stepanakert evolve into a thriving international cultural center. Ultimately–the project will help rebuild essential infrastructures and establish processes that will advance economic viability within the region–all the while contributing to world culture. The venue for the festival is the Stepanakert Drama Theatre established in 1932, located on a beautiful central historical street in Stepanakert. It is currently left vacant and awaiting demolition, though it continues to be the favourite spot for the local youth to meet up. From outside the “beauty of Stepanakert” as it used to be referred to, still looks great and it has preserved its initial charm with carved doorways and magnificent arches. I already got the OK from the Ministry of Culture of Nagorno Karabakh to use the space and I am working on raising funds from private donors and diasporan agences(most of intl organisations do not operate here because this is an unrecognized/ disputed territory which limits the funding opportunities) but I definitely hope to make this work. The festival is scheduled on 17-20 May, 2018 so I still got some time. Please, let me know if you know of any organisations that I could apply for funding and also, if you are interested to contribute or participate, I can send you the project concept and details by email. Here are some photos of the theatre building that will host the festival.
So yeah, I’ve been quite busy, living off my savings, but now I need to find a source of income asap, so let me know if there is anything I can help you with, good people @nadia @noemi PS: got good internet too!