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The Venice Biennale for the armenian diaspora. Victimising the national imaginary.

Abstract : Armenia have been participating in the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Venice since the late 1990s. It have constantly shown, in its national pavilions and throughout its participation, images of physical and social suffering and trauma. I analyse in my paper the possible causes of such an insistence of the american - armenian organisers on the representation of the suffering of people by linking them to the political, economic and artistic stakes that determine, for armenian diaspora, its participation in international art fairs. Armenia, as many other post soviet countries deal with a general phenomenon which in political science has been called the conflict or the competition of victims. Victims compete for a bigger role in social memory. The historian Martin Sabrov asserts that a radical transformation of modern political culture took place: within a few decades, the ideal oriented towards a future of progress and freedom has been replaced by the painful celebration of a past haunted by victimhood. Such a transformation was accompanied by a change in certain social ideals characteristic of communist mythology: “At the center of modern historical culture is no longer the ideal of the hero, but the ideal of the victim.” The privileged status of the victim in the 1990s created new forms of self-representation and identity politics: Armenia, a country with a long tradition of suffering since the genocide of the turn of the century, built its identity on the role of the victim, transforming the traumatic history into a collective glorification of the miserable past of their people. Exhibitions for the Biennale illustrate visually, and with almost religious fervour, this sacrificial history, representing the resistance to violence and the miserable destiny of the people as the heroic origin of the birth of nations. Sonya Balasanyan, through video art, and David Kareyan, through his performances, illustrated the traumas endured by their people. Last 2015s armenian pavilion was entirely devoted to the Genocide. The celebration of heroic and miserable victims is the foundation of a new conception of national identity. Traumatic history, still actively present in the living memories of contemporaries, is transformed into an aesthetic object and included in the international system of artistic manifestations. This paper will therefore deal with the aesthetic instrumentalisation of the image of suffering by armenian diaspora, celebrating national unity, with commercial, political and artistic objectives, and the possibility of overcoming it.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02091443
Contributor : Ekaterina Vinogradova <>
Submitted on : Friday, April 5, 2019 - 4:50:18 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 4:18:27 AM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02091443, version 1

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Ekaterina Vinogradova. The Venice Biennale for the armenian diaspora. Victimising the national imaginary.. Diasporic Imaginaries. Multiple Senses of Belonging, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Apr 2019, Paris, France. ⟨halshs-02091443⟩

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