The book addresses late-Soviet and post-Soviet art in Armenia in the context of turbulent social, political and cultural transformations in the late 1980s, throughout the 1990s and in early 2000s through the aesthetic figure of the ‘painterly real’ and its conceptual transformations. It explores the emergence of ‘contemporary art’ in Armenia from within and in opposition to the practices, aesthetics and institutions of Socialist Realism and National Modernism. The book presents the argument that avant-garde art best captures the historical and social contradictions of the period of the so-called ‘transition,’ especially if one considers ‘transition’ from the perspective of the former Soviet republics that have been consistently marginalized in Russian- and East European-dominated post-Socialist studies. Throughout the two decades that encompass the chronological scope of this work, contemporary art has encapsulated the difficult dilemmas of autonomy and social participation, innovation and tradition, progressive political ethos and national identification, the problematic of communication with the world outside of Armenia’s borders, dreams of subjective freedom and the imperative to find an identity in the new circumstances after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This historical study outlines the politics (liberal democracy), aesthetics (autonomous art secured by the gesture of the individual artist), and ethics (ideals of absolute freedom and radical individualism) of contemporary art in Armenia. Through the historical investigation, a theory of post-Soviet art historiography is developed, one that is based on a dialectic of rupture and continuity in relation to the Soviet past. As the first English-language study on contemporary art in Armenia, the book is of prime interest for artists, scholars, curators and critics interested in post-Soviet art and culture and in global art historiography.
Jean Genet has long been regarded as one of the most influential artists of the
twentieth century. Since the publication of Jean-Paul Sartre's existential
biography Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr in 1952, his writing has attracted the
attention of leading French thinkers and philosophers. In the UK and US, his
work has played a major role in the development of queer and feminist studies,
where his representation of sexuality and gender continues to provoke
controversy. This book aims to argue for Genet's influence once again, but
it does so by focusing uniquely on the politics of his late theatre. The first
part of the book explores the relationship between politics and aesthetics in
Genet's theatre and political writing in the period 1955 to 1986. The
second part focuses on the spatial politics of The Balcony, The Blacks and The
Screens by historicising them within the processes of modernisation and
decolonisation in France of the 1950s and 1960s. The third part of the book
analyses how Genet's radical spatiality works in practice by interviewing
key contemporary practitioners, Lluís Pasqual, JoAnne Akalaitis, and Ultz and
Excalibah. The rationale behind these interviews is to find a way of merging
past and present. The rationale so explores why Genet's late theatre,
although firmly rooted within its own political and historical landscape,
retains its relevance for practitioners working within different geographical
and historical contexts today.
This interdisciplinary volume explores the role of images and representation in different borderscapes. It provides fresh insight into the ways in which borders, borderscapes and migration are imagined and narrated by offering new ways to approach the political aesthetics of the border. The case studies in the volume contribute to the methodological renewal of border studies and present ways of discussing cultural representations of borders and related processes. The case studies address the role of borders in narrative and images in literary texts, political and popular imagery, surveillance data, video art and survivor testimonies in a highly comparative range of geographical contexts ranging from northern Europe, via Mediterranean and Mexican–US borderlands to Chinese borderlands. The disciplinary approaches include critical theory, literary studies, social anthropology, media studies and political geography. The volume argues that borderlands and border-crossings (such as those by migrants) are present in public discourse and more private, everyday experience. This volume addresses their mediation through various stories, photographs, films and other forms. It suggests that narratives and images are part of the borderscapes in which border-crossings and bordering processes take place, contributing to the negotiation of borders in the public sphere. As the case studies show, narratives and images enable identifying various top-down and bottom-up discourses to be heard and make visible different minority groups and constituencies.
Resurrected ghosts, living heroes and saintly saviours on the 3rd Floor, 1987–9 4
professional Unions, such as those of architects, writers, composers, etc., these were
instituted in the Soviet Union throughout the 1930s (in Armenia the Union
of Artists was established in 1932, two years before Andrei Zhdanov delivered
his programmatic speech at the First Congress of Soviet Writers, declaring
Socialist Realism to be ‘the official style of Soviet culture’)4 as part of a larger
Stalinist programme of centralization of culture in the hands of the state,
The politicalaesthetics of the Armenian avant-garde
3rd Floor, group photograph, 1992
autonomous art, which the concept implies,
and the intensity of turbulent transformations affecting everyday life and
penetrating into the otherwise ‘pure’ space of creation. It is this clash that
The politicalaesthetics of the Armenian avant-garde
transforms the agenda of ‘pure creation’ into a political-artistic programme.
I address the specific conditions within which the discourse of ‘pure creation’ both emerged and functioned. I subsequently attempt to identify the
reasons behind ACT’s young members’ strategy of articulating dogmatic and
rigid ideals, even
different but comparably powerful
politicalaesthetics – the Dardenne brothers’ singular realism
of ‘being with’ their characters, and Haneke’s integration
of his interrogation of the image into his narratives. In the cinema of
Audiard, too, political questions are essential to the referential world of
the narrative in Un héros très discret.
The Dardenne brothers’ and Haneke’s privileging of
Khachatryan’s tree – an
ironic reference to the New Year tree.5 This unusual appearance and absurd
announcement was a televised spectacle; moreover it was an artistic performance and a joke, conceived by conceptual artist Khachatryan and the head
of the Armenian public TV news section, Alexan Harutyunyan, and executed
by the news section team. It was, in Armenia, a unique instance of an artistic
The politicalaesthetics of the Armenian avant-garde
act with the ambition to instil a belief that it was an actual political act. In the
aftermath of the notorious
There is no soundtrack is a specific yet expansive study of sound tactics deployed in experimental media art today. It analyses how audio and visual elements interact and produce meaning, drawing from works by contemporary media artists ranging from Chantal Akerman, to Nam June Paik, to Tanya Tagaq. It then links these analyses to discussions on silence, voice, noise, listening, the soundscape, and other key ideas in sound studies. In making these connections, the book argues that experimental media art – avant-garde film, video art, performance, installation, and hybrid forms – produces radical and new audio-visual relationships that challenge and destabilize the visually-dominated fields of art history, contemporary art criticism, cinema and media studies, and cultural studies as well as the larger area of the human sciences. This book directly addresses what sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne calls ‘visual hegemony’. It joins a growing body of interdisciplinary scholarship that is collectively sonifying the study of culture while defying the lack of diversity within the field by focusing on practitioners from transnational and diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the media artists discussed in this book are of interest to scholars and students who are exploring aurality in related disciplines including gender and feminist studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, urban studies, environmental analysis, and architecture. As such, There Is No Soundtrack makes meaningful connections between previously disconnected bodies of scholarship to build new, more complex and reverberating frameworks for the study of art, media, and sound.
Responding to the resurgence of verbatim theatre that emerged in Britain, Australia, the United States and other parts of the world in the early 1990s, this book offers one of the first sustained, critical engagements with contemporary verbatim, documentary and testimonial dramaturgies. Offering a new reading of the history of the documentary and verbatim theatre form, the book relocates verbatim and testimonial theatre away from discourses of the real and representations of reality and instead argues that these dramaturgical approaches are better understood as engagements with forms of truth-telling and witnessing. Examining a range of verbatim and testimonial plays from different parts of the world, the book develops new ways of understanding the performance of testimony and considers how dramaturgical theatre can bear witness to real events and individual and communal injustice through the re-enactment of personal testimony. Through its interrogation of different dramaturgical engagements with acts of witnessing, the book identifies certain forms of testimonial theatre that move beyond psychoanalytical accounts of trauma and reimagine testimony and witnessing as part of a decolonised project that looks beyond event-based trauma, addressing instead the experience of suffering wrought by racism and other forms of social injustice.
This book explores the development of Robert Lepage’s distinctive approach to stage direction in the early (1984–94) and middle (1995–2008) stages of his career, arguing that globalisation had a defining effect in shaping his aesthetic and professional trajectory. It combines examination of Lepage’s theatremaking techniques with discussion of his work’s effects on audiences, calling on Lepage’s own statements as well as existing scholarship and critical response. In addition to globalisation theory, the book draws on cinema studies, queer theory, and theories of affect and reception. As such, it offers an unprecedented conceptual framework, drawing together what has previously been a scattered field of research. Each of six chapters treats a particular aspect of globalisation, using this as a means to explore one or more of Lepage’s productions. These aspects include the relationship of the local (in Lepage’s case, his background in Québec) to the global; the place of individual experience within global late modernity; the effects of screen media on human perception; the particular affect of ‘feeling global’; the place of branding in contemporary creative systems; and the relationship of creative industries to neoliberal economies. Making theatre global: Robert Lepage’s original stage productions will be of interest to scholars of contemporary theatre, advanced-level undergraduates with an interest in the application of theoretical approaches to theatrical creation and reception, and arts lovers keen for new perspectives on one of the most talked-about theatre artists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.