As a part of SPACES caravan, PUBLIC TALKS brings together artists, curators, researchers, architects and other cultural workers along with civil society groups and students from Armenia, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in order to foster networking, self-education, social research and policy debates in the region. The program consists of several components: artistic interventions in various public spaces, talks and presentations by Armenian art and cultural critics taking place in context-specific venues, study visits to independent cultural institutions and a final cultural policy debate formatted as a panel discussion that will follow up the events and happenings program.
The overwhelming tyranny of neoliberal, ‘free’ market economy, ‘new capitalist order with Asian values’ (in terms of its suppression of democratic freedoms) as Zizek coins it and its consequences in social and political realms both in Armenia and globally (rise of the new right, ecological nationalism, widespread protest movements, claims for the recuperation of public spaces and wider social benefits) stress the importance of rethinking a period or rather a condition, where the foundations of contemporary situation of rapid commercialization and social disenfranchisement were laid.
Heavy industrialization, ideological totality, claims for new types of social and physical environments, failed system of both state-planned and free market economies, these are all the bitter fruits of Modern-ism/modern condition that the contemporary society has to cope with.
But what does it mean to be a modern society? What are the consequences of becoming such? Is this a reversible process? Where can we find ourselves at this certain point of history? And have we ever been “modern”?
It is rather important to ask these questions, reformulating and reforming the conditions or the certain space, where and when the question is articulated in order to come up with certain suggestions regarding the direction of movement/dynamics a cultural worker can point at in the given time gap.
Each of the program components and participants will try to reformulate and pose the above-mentioned questions according to their own research and practice methods and specifics. The conference/discussion presentations/talks will be held in various context-specific public spaces/venues and will touch upon the topic of Modernism and/after the Soviets.
The aim is to focus on the structure and transformations of public sphere and its spaces of articulation throughout and after the Soviet period. From big squares to parks, kitchens to workspace couloirs the panel participants will discover the cases when the sphere and the space of the public coincided. How did the Soviet ‘society’ organize and form intermediate territories between the narratives of tiny elements of a big machine and the crowd scene in the big drama performance of a failed socialist dream? How and why do we need to rethink the communication between these subjects/society and the spaces it in/habited?
There will also be a special concentration on the period and condition of “ex post facto”: post-socialism, post-communism, post-Soviet, post-war, post-independence… the aim is to review the experience and the processes of the past 20 years when the emptied space of the communist ideology was filled with rising nationalism and manipulated religiosity while the free market of unequal opportunities came to take the position of state-governed industrial economy. What changed and what remained the same? Is there a chance/ways to think about the public space of tomorrow that can incorporate both public and private interests?
These are the simple questions that will serve as very basic reference points for both panels and the final wrap-up meeting to start talking about Modernism, it’s space and legacy.
To see the full program, please click on the link:
POST-SOVIET URBAN SPACES, Panel presentation by Hrach Bayadyan
for text, click on the link:
BLANK ZONES IN COLLECTIVE MEMORY OR THE TRANSFORMATION OF YEREVAN`S URBAN SPACE IN THE 60S, Panel presentation by Ruben Arevshatyan
For text, click on the link:
David Stepanyan: A Monument to Martyred Trees/ Northern Avenue, Yerevan
Walking tour by UrbanLab Yerevan- Kond district
Walking tour, Bangladesh neighborhood, Yerevan
PUBLIC TALKS , a participatory art and culture events program is organized by Utopiana.am as part of an international cooperation project SPACES: Sustainable Public Areas for Culture in Eastern Countries. The SPACES project is financed by the European Union through the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme.