January 28, 2011

January 27, 2011

a review of DRAINING THE SEA

Micheline Aharonian Marcom. Draining the Sea. Riverhead Books, 2008. 339 pp. Cloth: $26.95.

In her third novel, Draining the Sea, Marcom constructs a bizarre relationship between an American man, the progeny of genocide survivors, and Marta, a young Guatemalan woman whose terrible fate is somehow connected to the narrator’s nightmarish existence. Racked by memories of the Guatemalan civil war, and the violent death of Marta, the unnamed man spends his nights driving the freeways of Los Angeles and “essaying himself from ether.” The narrator, who seems to be involved in her treacherous death, is at the same time claiming to be her faithful lover. In an unconscious attempt to redeem himself, he methodically collects dead animal corpses from the roadside and buries them in his garden. With Draining the Sea, Marcom continues her quest to trace the effects of genocide over the course of three generations, but unlike her previous novels, this book is set in the Americas and follows one of the darkest episodes of modern history. In her distinctive voice that brilliantly represents the bleak and hallucinatory world of her characters, the story unfolds through the “unhistories” of humanity, reaching us as though from an underworld of torture. The memories that are slowly deteriorating the narrator’s sanity and driving him to madness include images of lynched Ixil peasants, torture cells in Guatemala City, and a “bone-boy”—a bone collector in the Syrian desert. Stylistically Marcom’s prose reenacts trauma through non-linearity, compulsive repetition and negation: “This is an essay against Progress (it is not a progressive story), this essay does not do it, but like the maze of days of thoughts of memories and notmemories, like the phrases which tumbled willy-nilly from a mother’s mouth, or an invocation, a song;—repeat themselves endlessly, without form or with it?” Language is deliberately broken down, it often doesn’t make any sense. Words that become inadequate are reformulated in new negative forms: “These the books we unwrite unread: unthought books, a prewritten kind of text: the interstitial books: the sort of narrative that makes loops in the mind, like ribbons and flood rivers that leave only a trace of the before.” The essaying of such sordid things is difficult, yet Marcom’s book is articulate and relentless in its search for optimism and beauty. [Shushan Avagyan]

—from the Review of Contemporary Fiction 28.2 (Summer 2008).

January 26, 2011


January 20, 2011

Family Returning Blows

photos: marco carloni

On January 10, I performed "Family Returning Blows," a meditation on personal and public violence at Jerome Zodo Contemporary, a commercial gallery in Milan, in "F classmate," an international female performance art series curated by Geraldine Zodo.

I couldn't see the audience during the performance, because I was either inside a tent or my face was covered by my scroll. Afterwards, a few people told me they were affected by the powerful emotions represented in it. "In Italy we deal with violence by eating," said a man who was grabbing a piece of pizza on a passing tray. No one else directly referenced the content of the piece.

From Barbie Badeau in Newsweek, November 15, 2010:
"An appalling portrait of Berlusconi’s Italy emerges from the World Economic Forum’s October 2010 Global Gender Gap Report. The WEF looks at such issues as wage parity, labor-force participation, and career-advancement opportunities for women, arguing that closing the gender gap Europe-wide could boost the euro zone’s GDP as much as 13 percent. But as things stand now, Italy would be left leering on the sidelines. In every category but education, Italy lags badly: in labor participation, 87th place worldwide; wage parity, 121st; opportunity for women to take leadership positions, 97th. In the report’s overall ranking, Italy now places 74th in the world for its treatment of women—behind Colombia, Peru, and Vietnam, and seven places lower than it did when Berlusconi returned to office in 2008. “Italy continues to be one of the lowest-ranking countries in the EU and deteriorate[d] further over the last year,” the report says."

The writer goes on to make a connection between these figures and Berlusconi's control of women in the media as sex objects. Later on, she addresses domestic violence:

"The Berlusconi government has focused its women’s-rights efforts primarily on the country’s rising reports of domestic violence. But even there Berlusconi seems to miss the point: last year he apologized for not being able to combat growing rape numbers by explaining, “We don’t have enough soldiers to stop rape because our women are so beautiful.”"

A few days later I encountered a woman who had been at the performance. She had been reading Matnashunch and said that it helped her to understand some of the Armenian historical and cultural references I was making. She's from Greece and new to the city; she told me she's going to do a performance in the F classmate series about women in Milan performing everyday tasks, and I wish I could come to view her observations, to have a dialogue.

I was just talking to a friend today who mourns our current age for the way people are ill-equipped to speak in public about difficult things. I too feel shy, the reason for my concealing props. I sat in the tent and broadcast images from my computer: photos, images from Facebook, and YouTube videos that bring me violent news from near and far. Technology concurrently brings intimacy and sterility, which does not always transfer to connectivity in the global world.

January 15, 2011

Ընտանիք պահելու ֆենոմենը

Հիշում եմ լուսահոգի Իգիթյանն ամեն ցուցահանդեսի բացման ժամանակ ասում էր, որ ինքը երեք սիրած նկարիչ ունի, մեկի անունը տեղում տալիս էր, էն երկուսինը միշտ գաղտնի էր պահում, մինչև նկարիչները կհասցնեին իրար մեջ ջոկել էս երեքի մեջ կան, թե չէ, ինքը արդեն իր ցուցահանդեսներն արած պրծած էր լինում...
21 Декабрь 2010 г. в 13:59 · ·

Hasmig Hakobian, Anahit Hayrapetyan, Haik Mxitaryan и 9 другимэто нравится.

Lilit Sargsyan Առաջարկում եմ նկարիչներին մի հատ ծաղրանկար նկարել`հայ նկարիչները Իգիթյանի մոտ հերթ են կանգնել ամենասիրածը լինելու համար:
21 Декабрь 2010 г. в 15:43 · · 1 пользователь

January 12, 2011

January 10, 2011


January 9, 2011

Exhibition in Tallinn

Dear Queering Yerevan,

I am Rebeka Põldsam from Estonia. I've tracked your blog now and then for almost two years now. I understand, that you are a queer activist group with queering/researching Armenian (hi)stories and also making art.

I am writing to you as a curator of an exhibition "Untold Stories. The Queer and the Political" May-June 2011 in Tallinn Art Hall. I am co-curating it with Airi Triisberg and Anders Härm. At the moment we are looking for artists from Post-Soviet and Eastern Europe. It's the first large politicy-oriented exhibition on queer topic in Estonia. We are making it a queer-political contemporary art exhibition which focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans stories - what is life as one of them, what is lesbian parenting, how do LGBTQI community members live in homophobic and heteronormative world etc.

Could you recommend us any artists, including yourself, who have worked with queer topics in socially/politically active ways? All the questions and comments are very welcome too!

Hope to hear from You soon!

Best wishes,
Rebeka Põldsam

January 1, 2011


A video by Arpi Adamyan, lusine talalyan and Shushan Avagyan.