What type of images come to mind when you think of a printing museum in Armenia? Bibles and antique books? Printing machines and clichés? A collection of pioneering newspapers from every corner of the Armenian world? It’s probably not some specially processed moonlight-tinted parchment highlighting the Armenian alphabet for a mighty voyage from Earth to space; something more analogous to “louys tesav” (լոյս տեսա՝ւ) or seeing the light of day—pun intended!
At h-pem we celebrate the International Day of Light (May 16th) and the International Museum Day (May 18th) by going back to the first dawn of Armenian printing that ushered in the great epoch of Armenian enlightenment and national awakening.
Something extraordinary happened on the day award-winning writer, musician, and educator Alan Semerdjian released a collaboration of poems and sound with guitarist/composer Aram Bajakian—Kim Kardashian tweeted about his project The Serpent and the Crane!
While a lot has happened in the world since then, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the 44-day Artsakh war, Semerdjian went on to write an essay, a meditation about that actual day, April 24th 2020. He generously contributed his compelling story to h-pem because he believes it “should live in the world.”
Experimental in form and delivery, the essay is an attempt to tackle broader issues, such as the nature of virality, how to process and share difficult and hard to digest art, the question of Armenian identity, genocide denial—all still relevant and resonant.
Check out Semerdjian’s wonderfully intuitive, extremely timely and profound story as it unravels in real time below…
What happens when two childhood friends turned photographers meet to discuss their art?
“Ten photographs, ten questions, very epigrammatic!” is the real deal as h-pem contributor Harout Dedeyan puts it.
“Sure, we’ve frequently discussed photography, something he’s very passionate about, but I was unaware of his ultimate goal,” reflects Dedeyan before he starts his interview with Paris-based photographer Garo Minassian.
When we learned that an h-pem fan was mesmerized by Minassian’s works, we asked Dedeyan, whose photographic series of “Art on Architecture” is showcased on our platform, whether he would like to interview him.
Dedeyan graciously volunteered! His sharp eye for visual detail and effective writing style provide a unique perspective into Minassian’s work.
Check out the frank and energetic interview below...
People usually view, watch, touch, and experience art for entertainment, a tingling of the senses, emotional connectivity, or to develop a deeper understanding of art. Not with Lara, an artist, whose shiny, luminous art is appreciated for its sunny palette.
Generations of Armenians have been haunted by the crane, one of the most potent and emotive symbols ingrained in the Armenian psyche. Ever since Komitas Vardapet addressed the bird in his soulful song of a wanderer, “Oh crane, don’t you have news from our homeland?” it has been associated with ill omen, leaving the question unanswered. In the final poem of the “Artsakh Trilogy” Harasharzh gives an ironic twist to the folk-based story of the past. Steeped in renaissance style and contemporary references, the poet’s words act like a mantra in these trying days.
"New Navasardian, a Sullen Ode" is Harasharzh's second poem published by h-pem.
The poet addresses Daniel Varoujan, a martyr of the Armenian Genocide, looking for wisdom in his eponymous pagan song, while the Artskah war is entering its most virulent phase. Resilience in dealing with loss remains an amorphous mix of grim sacrifice and hope, as the poet evokes the ancient gods of Armenian mythology, and challenges Varoujan in his optimism about the nation's future.
Can we expect war to give rise to creative beauty? What is the role of poets in contemporary warfare where sensational media leaves little to the imagination? Do poets still have to bear testimony to war? Stir feelings? Raise arguments? Can war poetry become a path to redefine identity? In "Vaspurakan's Echo," the first poem of the "Artsakh Trilogy," Harasharzh, a young American-Armenian poet, draws answers from history, literature, and the spaces between.
“To have great art, we must commission it! In order to commission it, we must have great commissioners!” If there is one person in the Armenian world who could be credited with turning Frank O'Hara’s famous words into action, it’s Minas Lourian, who serves as director of the Center for Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture in Venice, Italy.
Lourian was the catalyst behind Riccardo Muti’s recent “Roads of Friendship” concert in Armenia for the premiere of “Purgatory,” a commissioned piece by Tigran Mansurian. The maestro and his wife Cristina received the presidential Medal of Friendship, while Lourian was awarded with the Medal of Gratitude for their “significant role in the strengthening and promoting of cultural relationships between Armenia and Italy.”
H-pem sat down for an exclusive Skype interview to get valuable insights from the unconventional cross-cultural executive who has a deep knowledge of the Armenian-Italian community and a whole raft of stunning achievements under his belt.
Priceless manuscripts have survived a long and precarious journey to bear witness to Armenia’s rich cultural legacy. Now digitalization and new exhibition halls at the Matenadaran ensure that the “birth certificates” of our nation defy time and space.
When Maestro Krikor Alozian restarted rehearsals after a long gap amidst pandemic, little did he know that a simple video recording of a well-toiled and tinkered little song would go a long way towards reviving ancient Armenian rituals. How did he do this? We had a brief phone conversation with the conductor to find out how he came up with an impressive little gem.
It’s World Wildlife Day! Our focus at h-pem today is on "Pegasus," the poem based on the divine horse in Greek mythology, that fueled the imagination of Daniel Varoujan, one of the early 20th century’s most celebrated Western Armenian poets.
These are trying times: The world is being overrun by an insidiously contagious virus, schools and businesses have shuttered, and people all across the world are physically locked-in and virtually logged-on.
Since the advent of the internet, many have posited whether the invention can bring us closer or drift us further apart. For the time being, our “real” world has been suspended and moved to a “virtual” reality. It is perhaps the biggest migration in the shortest span of time in history. If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we all need connection, community, and comfort.
One of the heartwarming sides of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an explosion of all three C’s—whether it’s neighbors singing songs from their balconies, museums posting exhibitions online for free, or musicians livestreaming their concerts.
Art is the antidote...
The Nairyan Vocal Ensemble actively participated in releasing patriotic songs and keeping up the morale of the nation during the 44 day Artsakh war in autumn. As we honor the troops of Armed Forces in Armenia and Artsakh on Army Day, we dedicate the ensemble’s a cappella rendition of “Martiki yerg” (“Մարտիկի երգ” | “Soldier’s Song”) to those who fought bravely to defend our motherland.