Although emigration and unemployment rates may be increasing in Armenia, a new art initiative set to be released this month focuses on creating a roadmap for the economic and cultural development of the fascinating country.
The event is expected to last three weeks. During that time The Dilijan Arts Observatory will witness designers, artists, environmental scientist and cultural historians come together to the famous ancient town of Dilijan. The headquarters of the observatory will be based in the former Soviet Impuls electronics factory, which previously created jobs for around 4,000 workers.
A third of participants are Armenians. They will showcase their research concerning astronomy, Soviet architecture, local craft and other similar subjects during a public event that will take place on September 10 and 11. The show will also include food tasting opportunities, many different performances, and exhibitions as well as an all-night symphony. Armenian curator Vigen Galstyan, Australian fashion designer Misha Hollenbach, Lebanese artist Haig Aivazian, will all be present at the event.
Armenia also hopes to set up a second think tank in 2017. The event will culminate a series of exhibitions at the Hamburger Bahhof, Berlin in November 2017. They also aim to take the show to Paris in 2018.
The director of the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt, Clementine Deliss, is the main body behind the project. She explains how they wanted to refrain from putting a showcase together that put artists under pressure by having to work in three weeks. Instead, they wanted to establish an art academy in Dilijan over the long term which focuses on 'life practices' like medicine, law, and botany. Teaching and research may not be the academy's only use. It could also be useful for the production of goods, for example, Moroccan argan oil.
According to Galstyan, the thought of culture as the force behind a regeneration in Armenia is not a new idea. The idea has been around since an overwhelming amount of Armenians voted in favor of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Galstyan explains how Armenia life has always been connected to the idea of culture as a form of production. He hopes that the Dilijan Arts Observatory will be the perfect place to kick-start change which the district needs.
Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend, famous philanthropists, are the primary supporters of the project. They are the co-founders of the Dilijan Art Initiative, which also supported thirteen different artists at the Istanbul Biennial last year. The artists work focused on the Armenian Genocide, a horrendous event that is still not recognized by the Turkish state 100 years on. Vardanyan and Zonabemd are also heavily involved in the United World College Dilijan and the Initiatives for Development Foundation.