Thursday, April 02, 2009

PHOTOGRAPHY: "Ghost" City of freedom. By Arman Tadevosyan

From May 18 - June2, we will Host Harald Schlutig, Head of Media Cultural Center in Dresden, we will show his photos here in Gyumri, and he will give some workshops and master classes!


History is always now and the frequently celebrated call to “learn from history” can only be followed as we succeed to establish a contemporary relation to the past. Such a contemporary relation to a certain period in the past might appear very different, not least with different national points of view. With new constellations of nations, borders and coalitions the process of establishing a relevant relation to a common past becomes even more complex.

The cold war era is a common European experience as well as the time after the peaceful revolution in 1989. This background has a continuing impact on the way we tend to reflect upon present development in European and neighbouring societies. With the great number of aspects involved, especially when choosing a cross border perspective, artistic expression seems to offer unique opportunities to compress the inherent complexity into single statements of art like images or installations.

With the working title “Ghosts” we intend to realize and communicate a theme investigation on time after 1989. Emphasizing that every Nation tends to interpret its own history out of a limited and or selected set of historical facts, we want to confront perspectives in cross border cooperation between the artist run space “5th Floor” in Gyumri Armenia and “Geh8 - Art room and ateliers” in Dresden Germany. In this context we understand our specific sites as representative objectives apt to frame the content of “Ghosts”. Thereby, “5th Floor” offers a perspective out of an Armenian context, among other aspects representing the experience of the newly re-established national independence. “Geh8” on the other hand, acting on the territory of former GDR, would reflect the experience of a dissolved nation state within the re-united BDR. Both sites are in this way continuously confronted with ongoing geopolitical processes and consequences with aspects having their origin back in 1989.

The cooperation process will be based on the main intention to investigate and communicate confronting perspectives on present society and confronting ways of artistic and analytical expression. In this way the process should results in an intense interaction of artistic expression through “works of art” and analytical reflection through “corresponding interpretations through lectures, workshops and essays”.

Origin of investigation will be the urban areas “Mush 1 and Sheram” in Guymri, Armenia on the one hand and corresponding urban phenomena in the region of Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz, Germany on the other hand. The urban neighbourhoods “Mush 1 and Sheram” was initiated as a reaction on the earthquake in Armenia in 1988 and to solve the resulting disastrous housing situation. During construction the political situation in Armenia underwent a fundamental transformation with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of national independence for Armenia.

In consequence the initiated housing projects of “Mush 1 and Sheram” were outdistanced by this transformation as a result of new ideals, goals and concepts. The housing project was in some parts never completed and developed in following years to a kind of ghost city. “Ghost city” as it materializes ideals of a passed order which were not further integrated in the following urban development. Through the physical presence of “Mush 1 and Sheram” the uncompleted urban areas appear as constant reminder of this turn of time, forcing a mental occupation with this appearance today. In the new federal states of Germany corresponding urban processes can be recognized. As a result of a domestic migration from east to west and structural market transformation after 1989 housing areas lost many of their former inhabitants and housing blocks erected in the GDR was suddenly standing empty and in this way resembling a different kind of ghost cities, spread over the territory of former GDR. These architectural structures tend in appearance to express a notion of a “ghost nation” – not existing anymore, but still present.

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