[artinfo] Armenian Ministry of Culture Puts Veto on Freedom
(Modified by Geert Lovink)
harout_simonian at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 18 15:08:59 CET 2007
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
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" 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
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
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
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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