LA County to Commemorate Genocide Centennial With Public Art Exhibit

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A rendering of the iwitness exhibit

LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich will commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide by hosting a month-long interactive art installation on three levels at Grand Park beginning with an unveiling ceremony April 25 at 5 p.m.

Titled “iwitness,” the installation consists of an inter-connected network of towering asymmetrical photographic sculptures wrapped with massive portraits of eyewitness survivors of the Genocide. The sculptures have no right angles and their irregular angular shapes speak to an unbalanced world, continually at risk of war, ethnic cleansing and genocide. They range in height from eight to fifteen feet.

Conceived and constructed by artists Ara Oshagan and Levon Parian and architect Vahagn Thomasian, iwitness will be the first ever public art installation at Grand Park.

“This remarkable memorial honors the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide and tells the personal stories of survivors — first-hand eyewitnesses to one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century,” said Mayor Antonovich.

“iwitness is a temporary monument to the men and women who rebuilt their disrupted lives and communities in the aftermath of genocide,” said artist Ara Oshagan. “The proximity and clustering of the sculptures alludes to, and reflects, the new communities they created after being dispersed across the globe.”

The installation offers a continually shifting perspective during the day, as shadows cast by sunlight create a dynamic interplay between the asymmetrical lines, shapes and forms of the sculptures. At night, a different atmosphere and environment is created as each sculpture in the network is illuminated from the inside.

To educate and promote discourse, audiences at iwitness walk amid these larger-than-life sculptures to reflect on its message and the Turkish government’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Most of the men and women survivors portrayed are Southern California residents who immigrated here to reestablish their lives. They include:

Emmy-nominated filmmaker Michael J. Hagopian of Thousand Oaks, who survived because his mother hid him in a mulberry bush.

Hampartsoum Chitjian of Los Angeles, who was saved by a blind Kurdish man.

Hayastan Terzian of Pasadena, whose family was saved by the U.S. Consul Leslie Davis stationed near her hometown.

Sam Kadorian of Van Nuys, who was left for dead under a pile of decomposing bodies and survived on his wits, courage and will to live.

With fiscal sponsorship of the project from the Lucie Foundation, the installation coincides with the Foundation’s “Month of Photography in Los Angeles” (MOPLA) photo festival that is held every year in April.

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