WASHINGTON—The principals behind the public art project, known as iwitness, commemorating the Armenian Genocide have been recognized by the Foreign Policy Journal with the publication’s “Leading Global Thinkers of 2015,” honor for preserving the history of the Genocide.
Vahagn Thomassian, Ara Oshagan and Levon Parian were informed earlier this fall of the recognition and attended a special ceremony on Tuesday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington to receive the honor.
The project was unveiled on April 25 and was sponsored by LA County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich who hosted the month-long interactive art installation on three levels at Grand Park beginning with an unveiling ceremony
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.
“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 walked through and 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.
Each year, Foreign Policy compiles a list of 100 people who its editors believe have shaped the world over the past year, calling them Leading Global Thinkers. The editors of Foreign Policy chose the three based on their “standout contributions over the past year” and their “ability to translate important ideas into action that change and shape the world.”