Layered Lives: Iranian Armenian Identity through Contemporary Art

Key information

10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Brunei Gallery
Brunei Gallery Exhibition Rooms
Event type

About this event

Organised by the Armenian Institute with Veronica Castro and Abdollah Guivian, the exhibit will be the highlight of a two-month long series of events, lectures, and workshops. The focus is primarily on Iranian Armenians in Iran and the U.K but also includes a dialogue on changing identities with other Armenian diaspora artists. The exhibition will include paintings, photography, graphic design, prints and mixed media by 8 artists. Though the work is shown primarily as art for its own sake, the exhibition also has value as a window on a little known world and a different perspective on integration in a variety of political systems and cultures.

This theme will also be explored through lectures on historical and social context, arts workshops, and through innovative work on oral history collection and exhibition. Throughout the winter and spring, a series of workshops and film showings will be held as part of the emphasis on identity and the arts in diaspora of Layered Lives. The workshops will emphasise discovering community and family heritage by encouraging new approaches to collecting and analysing oral histories.

Iranian Armenians have been chosen as the focus as for centuries, Armenians have been an important part of the fabric of life in the Persian Empire and then in the modern state of Iran. The vibrant contemporary identity of a Christian minority in a Muslim state and the strong attachment to the country and its diverse peoples is somehow balanced with a deep connection with Armenians around the globe.

The Armenian Institute, Castro and Guivian share an interest in exploring the connections between individuals and their art and the communities and socio-cultural and creative environments in which they live. Through the chosen pieces, we aim to set up a conversation between the artists, their works, and the people who visit the exhibit, listen to the music and poetry, and watch the films. The works are chosen to complement and provoke each other in terms of ideas, background and direction, exploring the broader context of the connections of a people spread around the world, linked to each other and to particular historic spaces. Dr Abdollah Guivian and Veronica Castro were inspired to begin the work on bringing this exhibit to fruition through their visual anthropological fieldwork with Armenians in Iran in 2004. In creating their film, Lullaby, about that experience, they were inspired by the artists with whom they have collaborated for the events. Anthropologist Dr Susan Pattie joins them as project director of the Armenian Institute and Senior Research Fellow at UCL. She is the author of Faith in History, an ethnographical study of Armenians in Cyprus and London.

Featured Artists:

From Iran - Raffi Avanessian, Photographer; Hermineh Keshish, Painter and Henrik Khachatoorian, Graphic Designer
From the UK - Edman Aivaizian aka Edman OAivazian, Painter; Karen Babayan, Painter/Printer.
Short biographies of those involved.

Guest Curators Nairi Sahakian and Veronica Castro

A catalogue is available that includes all of the artworks from the exhibition, price £5.00

An exhibition organised by the Armenian Institute, Susan Pattie and Veronica Castro (London); Abdollah Guivian and Nayer Qajar (Iran)
Curated by Veronica Castro (Iran Artists), Nairi Sahakian (Diaspora Artists)

This exhibition has been possible through the generous support of: The Benlian Trust & The St. Sarkis Trust

Contact email: gallery@soas.ac.uk