Art Basis


Art Basis is a platform for contemporary art founded by Mary Mikaelyan and Momik Vardanyan in 2015. Art Basis is a collaborative basis for different projects engaging with production, networks, systems and economies, economies, using archive and representation as mediums.

Contact

13 Hrachya Kochar Str., Studio 20
0012, Yerevan, Armenia
info[at]artbasis.net



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Projects


Studio 20

Studio 20 is a collaborative and informal art space for gatherings, discussions,
reflection, information exchange and production.
Engaging with the domains of public and private, Studio 20 acts in between these
spheres and periodically works with artists and curators, organizing exhibitions,
performances, lectures and discussions on social, cultural and political issues.

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Video Art Archive

Video Art Archive has been created with the aim to readdress the content presented through the moving images and to foster conversations based on that content. First of all it is a physical and online storage of video art and performances, then an opportunity to question the ways moving images produce paths of thinking.

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Screenings and Conversations 

Video Art Archive’s program “Screenings and Conversations” aims to question in the context of contemporary art how the moving image produces ways of thinking and to foster the creation of the critical discourse on moving image. The aim of the program is to readdress the content to which the artists working in Armenia in recent 25 years have referred in their art practices.

2016

May 26 - Diana Hakobyan. The leap as the extreme movement
May 19 - Hovhannes Margaryan. New Political Art  
May 12 - Harout Simonyan. Body in Movement



Art Schema

ArtSchema is a tool for creating websites with structured data and easy management of those websites. ArtSchema has developed a control management system (CMS) that makes the process of creating a website easy and less time consuming.

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Art Data Bank

Art Data Bank is a platform that helps to arrange the ever growing number of exhibitions, events and biennales in an easy manageable way. It is a mapping process of art data that gives precedence to the open-ended structure and the navigation through adjustable data fields.

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Exhibitions

Dates
Curator
Momik Vardanyan
Venue
Studio 20


Daydreaming in the everyday is not consumable, it is a form of resistance to those systems of power which, in order to neutralize its potentialities, force to obey the logic of spectacle. 

The exhibition “You Are Not Alone” is Mher Azatyan’s personal space that he shares with people with the intention to create continuity to make daydreaming and fragments of dreams a substitute to the day-to-day reality. Is it possible to be in the domain of imagination and do it not in a systematized way with the aim of creating desires in the reality, but making the imagination itself the everyday and the reality? 

Equally for him and for those who approach the space of the artist’s imagination, the exhibition is the moment of that communication, of talking, conversing, dreaming in the situation which is detached from reality.

The artist invites to get into interaction with him and not with his images that are displayed - blurring the distance between art, the event and the artist.

The space to relate to one another is not the kitchen any more, where you could once hear political conversations and discussions, this is not the kitchen, which is the space for oppression, this is the space that is not in sync with the pace of modern life. Here are the fantasies in the images of light and the sky. 

With this glance there is a contradiction between the sky, that has no limits, and the kitchen - which besides being a comfortable and a secure area does not let to forget the everyday. At the same time it is difficult to demarcate where the anxiety and the tranquility are in this case – in the images, or in the created environment. It seems that the images refer more to outside occurrences that are however part of the everyday. Here there is the personal which is eventually the same for us all and is the opportunity to understand each other. It doesn’t matter whether it is an opposition, or a continuation, or a complement, Azatyan lets the details to help find a way of living that does not discriminate between the more important and the less important, a way of living that wants an attention – in a quiet and intimate environment. And he tries to create that environment, where one can be found with one another, and not with the images and the created environment.



The Echo Museum, Yerevan, Armenia


Participant artists: Astghik Melkonyan, David Kareyan, Diana Hakobyan, Harutyun Simonyan, Mher Azatyan, Sona Abgaryan, Tigran Khachatryan, Vahram Aghasyan. 

Curator: Eva Khachatryan


At the end of 90s and at the beginning of 2000s a shift took place in the language of Armenian contemporary art that was different in terms of the choice of the addressed issues, as well as the means of expression. Video was one of the media that proved to be the best at expressing the emergence of that new language. The images, which were created at home with the help of newly acquired VHS recorders and cameras that were temporarily borrowed from friends, brought with them a new opportunity – the advantage of conveying time, the process. It is no coincidence that almost all of the first examples of video art resulted from the various processes of that friendly environment - thus being the demonstrations of that collective time.

Diana Hakobyan’s video does not have a narrative. The author as if refuses the advantages of the moving image combining the static portraits of her friends with a rotating mechanical device (Untitled, 1997). The author uses the new media in a peculiar way: Diana makes minimal use of the features of the camera and editing. She only transfers the image to a new domain and adds a voice to it in order to get the rhythmic feeling of the process.

Mher Azatyan uses his portrait in the video from 1995 (“Identification”) and distorts it the same way as F. Bacon did in his paintings. This gesture is a particular reference to the “hamasteghtsakan art”1, which was being discussed and presented in the local context already from the end of the 80s, and to the seminal exhibition in 1993 - “Subjective Integration”2. Referring to Bacon Mher presents his “subjective integration” – the translated western art. With hamasteghtsakan art usually production of paintings is understood. However, there are a few exceptions among the works produced that do not deal with painting. Among them, besides Mher’s video, is also Arman Grigoryan’s “Killer Without Pay” (2004) based on the play of E. Ionesco “The Killer”.

We see the elements of reinventing the image, rethinking of the cinema and editing combined with performance in Tigran Khachatryan’s video-films. “Color of Eggplant” (2001) that presents the ironic remake of Parajanov’s “The Color of the Pomegranate” is one of his earliest and the most well pronounced punk works which challenges all the possible pillars of the Armenian culture. From this film the “garage film” series starts. Here the author refers to famous directors’ films (Tarkovsky, Pasolini, Godard, Dziga Vertov) subjecting them to reediting and presents his own personalized versions of those films that are manifestations of a unique convergence of art and cinema.

The element of performativity was the most common and characteristic one for video art: it provided a large spectrum of possibilities starting from the diversity of editing and including expression of radical ideas.

David Kareyan, who produced a number of live performances at the beginning of 2000s, in “The Call of the Ancestors” (2001) – the anti-nationalistic performance-video - with seemingly symbolic but in reality direct speech strikes the consciousness of the viewer through not showing another reality but pointing to the very environment and everyday life that surrounds us. The artist is harsh and clear in his statement – he embodies the priest who is eating the raw meat.

Other elements of performance appear in Sona Abgaryan’s early videos that refer to the issue of the girl-woman identity. Under the night’s light and dog’s barking the players of badminton embody the idea of “sisterhood”, friendship, solidarity of women as opposed to patriarchy (Untitled, 2001). The author uses the game to show a world where the undisturbed feelings of happiness and pleasure are present.

Astghik Melkonyan’s video “The Bag” (2004), which was presented through photo series too, also refers to the issue of identity which is directly connected with the body. The feeling of losing and finding the body is transferred through the “installation-pile” made out of “bags”. The presence of the body and its movements is reduced to the minimum. It is converted into a bag, which expresses the idea of moving.

Harutyun Simonyan’s work ("Schizoanalysis", 2000) is an attempt to overcome the presence of camera. The video lens is a public's controlling eye and in order to resist it the author initiates an intimate conversation with the “audience”, the viewer. It is a two-channel video: in the first one while sitting in front of the camera, Simonyan knits and speaks about the themes that come to his mind at that moment. During the monologue he regularly addresses the viewer and expresses desire to spend time together. This sometimes reminds of the TV format when the viewers are kept occupied, however, with one important difference - the artist who enters into intimate contact with the audience, also shares with it such feelings as boredom, uncertainty, unfulfillment and failure. In the second video the opposite action is happening: a different time, a different environment and an attempt to untangle the knot. The author as if deconstructs the previous situation, the previous action.

The documentary approach is probably the least common method used in video art in Armenia, making Karen Andreassian’s work probably the first one of its kind. He puts the camera in a public space in order to just film passing people. The text saying “everything is under control” regularly appears in the video. It is indicative that the problem of controlling the public sphere that was raised by the artist in 1995 is becoming more and more pronounced with time and today is one of the most relevant ones.

Vahram Aghasyan’s documentary narrative deals with the issues of the Soviet Modernist architecture. His “Ghost City” (2005-2007), one of the author’s most extensive research projects that was presented in various formats, addresses one of the unfinished architectural projects from the Soviet times which was intended to provide housing for people who became homeless after the 1988 earthquake. The project is about the Mush district in the Gyumri neighborhood. The group of structures that are neglected and do not serve their direct purpose is a monument of never accomplished Modernism and in its absurd existence up until now remains merely a platform for research and artistic interventions.


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1. The author of the term “Hamasteghstakan Art” is Nazareth Karoyan.
2. The curators of the “Subjective Integration” were Nazareth Karoyan and Charlie Khachatryan



The project of personal life which is well documented does not recognize unnecessary and unidentified things. Reviewing own personal archives lets to find images that have been left by accident and have not been erased. They do not have any documenting importance and the only reason they have not been erased is the constant lack of time.

These are moments that do not convey any meaning, are not necessary, are of no interest, that have passed without forming specific meaning and purpose. These are everyday failures, actions that have turned meaningless, losses of time.

At the same time isolating the pieces of reality from their functions and continuity and arranging them enables to examine their potentiality and exempt them from the everyday obligation.

The defined everyday periods of time and durations get the opportunity to go out from the recurrent cycle of beginning and end, and enter into new relationships with each other.



Club 11, Yerevan, Armenia
Curator: Nazareth Karoyan

The subject of Grigor Khachatryan's project is the social revolt against the electricity price hike that took place last summer. Incorporating the photo and video footage of the events, the gestures adopted by the protesters, as well as the written and oral speech acts, he explores the problem of the relationship between the sit-in participants who blocked Baghramyan Avenue for several weeks and the police.

The interrelated theme of power and love in general is central in Grigor Khachatryan's oeuvre. Working in performance and turning his own persona into material the artist constructs a parodic figure vested with absolute power. In this project Grigor Khachatryan does two things for the first time and simultaneously. Firstly, he departs from the performance format that was dominant in his artistic practice and builds his project on research. Secondly, he takes off the jester’s happy clothes to put on the rigorous robe of the one who looks into the sources of the power’s legitimacy.

The fragile barricade built with garbage bins has blocked the Baghramyan Street. On the one side there are the police of the authorities lacking legitimacy who can use force within the scope of its functions prescribed by law, on the other side there are the angry citizens that do not have any other option than to violate the social norms. To insist on their righteous demand they turn to the various means they have in their armory – from demonstrative love to the gestures and slogans with hints and messages of sexual nature.

For the artist the problematic is that division. With his project he as if raises a question: can love, as speech and action, become a form of public resistance and struggle against the police violence? He derives the possible answer to this hypothetical question from the scenes of the dispersion of the sit-in accompanied by love hits of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Shrouding the icy water jet fired from the water cannon with the repetitive rhythms of wistful songs Grigor Khachatryan as if comes to push the viewer deep into sad reflections: how powerless the authorities must be to oppose the citizen who elects them with such rude and harsh methods, or how hopeless that ordinary protester must be to rely on the potency of the gesture conveying the threat of sexual violence – the raised middle finger.

The saying of the artist which is included in the installation points that binary opposition and the way to overcome the crisis:

THOSE WHO LOVE ME HAVE POWER OVER ME, GREATER POWER HAVE THOSE WHOM I LOVE.

Public Program

exhibition's public program


Mar 30, 2016 - The politicization of art against the aestheticization of politics
Mar 23, 2016 - Foul language, demonstration of threat of violence or political correctness: around the relevance of the participation forms of civil protest
Mar 16, 2016 - Multitudes / collective artwork
Mar 9, 2016 - Media traps or the demonstrativeness: voluntary-compulsory