[artinfo] Armenian Ministry of Culture Puts Veto on Freedom (Modified by Geert Lovink)

Harout Simonian harout_simonian at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 18 15:08:59 CET 2007

Dear all,

By this letter we express our principal disagreement with the 
situation in Armenia concerning art, culture and freedom. We find it 
very important to let you know and ask your support as the violation 
against freedom of art, expression and though has no geography and 
should be STOPPED and PROTESTED world-widely by all the means we have.

Please, forward and inform everybody about our pain and send/ show 
your position to the Armenian Government and all the people and 
organizations dealing with Armenia.

Here are the addresses:

Government of the RA:
1. Republic Square.
Yerevan, Republic of Armenia
Tel:. (374 10) 52 87 12, 52 74 02, Fax:. (374 10) 52 87 12
press at arminco.com

Ministry of the Culture:
Government Building 3, Republic Square, Yerevan
Tel.: 52-93-49
mincult at xter.net

Yerevan, February 2, 2007
The Ministry of Culture puts veto on freedom

It would be much better if the Minister of Culture would be capable 
to explain to the uneducated "pure Armenian" audience, who is far 
away from real art , having  included  the cotemporary in anachronic 
ethnic and militaristic, that the ART in THE WORLD is liberated times 
ago and the ARTIST is FREE to CREATE.

The art, the artist and the thought in Armenia are forbidden from now 
on. The announcement of Minister of Culture from 01.02.2007 recovers 
long-term Soviet totalitarian repressive machinery aimed to exclude 
alternative thinking and pluralism. Actually by this decision the 
artistic freedom without the approval of the Ministry of Culture in 
Armenia is forbidden.

 From now on the art is arrested by the power- holders conditioned by 
their doubtful education, by soc-realistic spirit and by 
nationalistic vision. From this moment the government declares the 
existence of the only possible and nationally admitted culture in 
Armenia and "the one nation- one culture[1]" becomes the general 
slogan of state repressions against free creation and free artist.

By the banning the performance of the British artist the artist in 
Armenia is forbidden too and the audience is forbidden to see, to 
listen, to feel and to think by his/ her own. This announcement has a 
direct trend to exile from the country all those, who are not agree 
to fit with state cultural standards.

In this context it becomes  clear why in independent  Republic of 
Armenia liberated from Soviet totalitarism the KGB Day is celebrated 
nation-widely and enthusiastically, the whole cultural space is 
filled with militaristic spirit, and the folk and rabiz are mixed and 
propaganded broadly.

This is the way how the fascism enters and becomes reality 
accompanied by the society's excitement.

Such kind of insult was never given to the art in post-Soviet times. 
The real intellectual must react to this unprecedented violence.

Harutyun Simonian, artist
Lala Aslikyan, citizen
Astghik Melkonyan, artist
Tigran Khachatryan, artist
Mariam Elmasyan, professor- orientalist
Lori Yapujyan, musician
Aram Talalyan, professor, Conservatory
Karen Hakobian, musician, "Hope" NGO
Artur Avanesov, composer, culturologist
Karine Talalyan, musician
Lilit Zakaryan, art critic
Vigen Tadevosyan, artist
Vahe Boyajyan, professor, Yerevan State University
Anahit Vardanyan, lawyer
Avetis Avagyan, civil servant
Natalya Martirosyan, human rights activist
Shushan Vardanyan, pharmacist
Anna Barseghyan, art curator, utopist
Stephan Kristensen, scientist, political activist
Vakhtang Siradeghyan, RA citizen
Armen Ohanyan, RA citizen
Gayane Sargsyan, RA citizen
Suren Saghatelyan, RA citizen
Naira Sultanyan, RA citizen
Vehanush Hovhannisyan, "Meghvik" NGO
Bella Sargsyan, RA citizen
Marish Manucharyan, RA citizen
Sona Abgaryan, artist
Ruben Arevshatyan, art curator
Nika Yepiskoposyan, sociologist
and others.


February 03, 2007

Friendship flag dance steps on a nation's pride
Tony Halpin, Moscow and Gayane Abrahamyan, Yerevan

The modern dance performance was billed as a frank expression of 
friendship between Britain and Armenia, the former Soviet republic.
Instead, Nigel Charnock's solo show provoked diplomatic outrage after 
he was accused by the Armenian Culture Minister of desecrating the 
national flag.
Charnock, a noted dancer, has been called a "national treasure" by 
British critics and praised for his "eerie brilliance" and 
"profligate talent" by The Times. The British Council had described 
Frank, Charnock's one-hour improvised performance, as "a stand-up, 
sit-down, leap-around live show that picks you up, calls you names 
and lets you in on some home truths".
But the name-calling was largely done by Hasmik Poghosyan, the 
Culture Minister, after Charnock, on his first vist to the country, 
had placed Armenian and British flags on the stage and danced on them 
before an audience at the Stanislavsky State Theatre, in Yerevan, on Wednesday.
Mrs Poghoysan, 46, who was not at the performance, ordered a second 
show to be cancelled and accused Charnock of committing a criminal 
offence punishable by up to a year in prison. She declared: "It is 
unacceptable for us that someone who is considered a national 
treasure in Britain would bring such low-quality art to Armenia.
"We honour the high art of British theatre and are sure that from the 
Queen to ordinary Britons the greatest pride and treasure is 
Shakespeare. It appears that the English perception of treasures has 
been drastically devalued and Nigel Charnock is its best evidence."
Mrs Poghosyan said that she was not censoring artistic expression but 
acting to prevent disrespectful treatment of Armenia's flag.
"Charnock may treat the British flag as he likes. He can drop it on 
the floor, step on it, chew it or swallow it, but it is unacceptable 
and punishable by law to treat the Armenian flag that way," she said.
At a press conference called swiftly by the British Council, a 
chastened Charnock, 45, offered his "unconditional apologies". He 
told reporters: "All I'm trying to do is communicate love."
The Culture Ministry lifted the ban, provided that Charnock promised 
not to repeat the offence, but by then it was too late to reschedule 
the performance and the dancer flew home yesterday.
Lucine Ghulyan, arts manager at the British Council in Yerevan, told 
The Times: "He was trying to show friendship between Armenia and 
Britain. There was a total misunderstanding of his intentions.
"He was showing his affection for Armenia, but when I called the 
deputy minister to explain this she didn't want to listen to me. She 
kept saying that she was offended as a citizen of Armenia to see the 
flag on the floor."
Ms Ghulyan acknowledged that some in the audience had been offended 
by sexually suggestive movements during the performance. Charnock had 
wrapped a Union Jack around his loins and then draped the Armenian 
tricolor over his naked torso.
But Ms Ghulyan said that most had understood the show and many gave 
him a standing ovation at the end.
Charnock, 45, has performed Frank around Europe since 2003, when it 
was commissioned for the Venice Biennale. He co-founded the DV8 
Physical Theatre before establishing his own dance company in 1996.

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