Dilijan Arts Observatory, First Project by Dilijan Art Initiative, Launched in Armenia


Maria Ensayan (1916-1998), Agronomist, Dilijan, Armenia (Photograph courtesy of Dilijan Centralised Library System)

Maria Ensayan (1916-1998), Agronomist, Dilijan, Armenia (Photograph courtesy of Dilijan Centralised Library System)

DILIJAN, Armenia — The IDeA (Initiatives for Development of Armenia) Foundation and the Dilijan Development Foundation (DDF) announce the launch of the Dilijan Arts Observatory, an experimental interdisciplinary think tank, which aims to develop new models for art practice and higher education in Dilijan. The first major international art event in Armenia organised by the Dilijan Art Initiative, the Observatory will bring together an international group of artists, cultural historians and environmental scientists to Armenia  August 22 to September 11.

The Dilijan Art Initiative is a complex project that seeks to promote Dilijan and Armenian culture internationally, providing support for the presentation of work by artists from the Armenian diaspora in the world’s leading exhibitions and major cultural events. The Dilijan Art Initiative supported Armenity/Hayoutioun; the National Pavilion of the Republic of Armenia at the 56th Venice Biennale, which was awarded the Golden Lion, the highest possible honour for a national pavilion, and the Armenian programme at the 14th Istanbul Biennial devoted to the research of Armenian history and trauma in contemporary Turkey.

The Dilijan Arts Observatory, which is a part of the Dilijan Art Initiative project, is supported by philanthropists Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend, founders of the United World College Dilijan, RVVZ and IDeA charitable foundations, and co-founders of DDF, as well as another DDF co-founder, Gagik Adibekyan, who is also the founder of Adibekyan Family Foundation for Advancement.

The Dilijan Arts Observatory has been devised by international curator and anthropologist Clémentine Deliss, and will bring together a group of historians and practitioners to undertake fieldwork in the town — long a resort favoured not only by Armenians, but by artists such as Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten — working closely with its citizens and identifying local wisdom or folkways.

Fieldwork activities will include investigating style, crafts, graphics, music, composition, and astronomy; Soviet architecture and design; culinary knowledge; archiving and transmitting 20th century memories; wilderness, botany and future products for survival. The Observatory will take place in Dilijan and neighbouring villages, adopting the former Soviet Impuls electronics factory in Dilijan as its headquarters. A classic example of Soviet industrial architecture, 4,000 employees once worked in Impuls under the order of the Soviet Defence Ministry, before it was privatized.

The Dilijan Arts Observatory Participants are: Dilijan Arts Observatory participants: Vahram Aghasyan (AM), Haig Aivazian (CA), Alen Amirkhanian (AM), Ruben Arevshatyan (AM), Vardan Azatyan (AM), Erik van Buuren (NL), Katerina Chuchalina (RU), Vardan Danielyan (AM), Mohamad Deeb (LB), Clémentine Deliss (GB), Silvina Der Meguerditchian (AM), Arpad Dobriban (DE), Andrew de Freitas (NZ), David Galstyan (AM), Vigen Galstyan (AM), Natasha Gasparian (LB), Raphaela Grolimund (CH), Angela Harutyunyan (AM), Krispin Heé (CH), Misha Hollenbach(AU), Marc Norbert Hörler (CH), Marianna Hovhannisyan (AM), Christoph Keller (DE), Aram Keryan (AM), Nairi Khatchadourian (AM), Antje Majewski (DE), Augustin Maurs (FR), Ioana Mitrea (RO), Maria Mkrtycheva (RU), Mathilde Rosier (CH), Marcello Spada (IT), Pascal Storz (CH), Shauna Toohey, Perks and Mini (AU), Joanna Sokolowska (PL), Hasmik Ter-Voskanian (AM), Vangjush Vellahu (AL), Jasmine Werner (DE), Asya Yaghmurian (AM), Nork Zakarian (EG).

On September 10 and 11, a two-day public event will be held in Dilijan, presenting the results with a series of events, including an all-night symphony, culinary festivities, performances and exhibitions, as well as an international round-table debate on a future academy for art and life practices.

The outcome of the Dilijan Arts Observatory will feature in exhibitions at the leading national art museums in Europe: the National Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, in November 2017, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, in summer 2018.

Veronika Zonabend, Co-Founder, IDeA Foundation, said: “Dilijan Arts Observatory is another project of IDeA Foundation and Dilijan Development Foundation aimed at driving Dilijan’s urban and cultural regeneration through education. Dilijan Arts Observatory will include workshops, lectures and interdisciplinary research projects in Dilijan. The Observatory will bring together individuals — each of whom is leading in their field — from a broad range of backgrounds, experiences and countries, to experience the cultural offer of Armenia. I look forward with anticipation to understanding and learning what will be uncovered by this important project.”

Deliss, Curator of the Dilijan Arts Observatory, noted: “I’m delighted to be part of this project. In 2009, when I first came to Armenia to meet artists and activists, I really valued their radical position. It’s hugely significant for the Dilijan Arts Observatory, and for Armenia as an international platform, that so many of these leading artists and researchers are now travelling to take part in our project. I hope that our dialogue will produce new models and prototypes for the future.”

And finally, Gagik Adibekyan, founder of the Adibekyan Family Foundation for Advancement, said: “Two years ago Dilijan became Armenia’s new educational centre whose importance has been recognised internationally. Thanks to the Dilijan Arts Observatory, this ancient and picturesque town will also become a centre of art and culture, as the project brings together artists, historians and researchers from 14 countries. We are glad that every step we take to develop Dilijan has to do with creating unique, socially significant projects that attract talented people from all over the world. That means that this town has a promising future.”