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Spotlighting the Exclusions of Cultural Memory

Spotlighting the Exclusions of Cultural Memory

Artistic collaboration is a productive site where perspectives can meet and reshape each other, generating new imaginings for the artists involved.

February 3rd, 2012

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CRITICS’ FORUM: Occupy Armenian Theater

CRITICS’ FORUM: Occupy Armenian Theater

In the year-end article I wrote last December – months before the Occupy movement launched in New York and spread to 80 countries – I began a quiet protest, lamenting the state of Armenian theater in our corner of the diaspora and calling for increase – and improvement – in its cultural production.

December 30th, 2011

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Filmic Approaches to Catastrophe: Narrative and Trauma in Levon Minasian’s Le Piano and Eric Nazarian’s Bolis

Filmic Approaches to Catastrophe: Narrative and Trauma in Levon Minasian’s Le Piano and Eric Nazarian’s Bolis

This year’s Arpa International Film Festival featured two short films with a storyline informed by an historic catastrophe: Levon Minasian’s Le Piano depicts the musical aspirations and struggles of a child virtuoso, Loussiné, who was orphaned after the earthquake in Leninakan, Armenia in 1988; Eric Nazarian’s Bolis follows the journey of an Armenian oud player, Armenak, who visits Istanbul to perform in an oud festival and find the site of his grandfather’s pre-Genocide oud shop.

November 23rd, 2011

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Paradox and Perspective: The Art of Dr. Kevorkian

Paradox and Perspective: The Art of Dr. Kevorkian

Regardless of your views on assisted suicide, you probably have an opinion about Jack Kevorkian. He was one of those people who, while sometimes courting controversy for the sake of notoriety, at the same time seemed to advocate for something he believed in very strongly – what he considered the very basic human right of the terminally ill to end their pain and suffering through doctor-assisted suicide.

October 3rd, 2011

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Why Teach Our Kids Armenian?

Why Teach Our Kids Armenian?

As a proud graduate of Alex Pilibos, I often like to reflect on the fruits that local Armenian schools have borne over the last forty years

July 2nd, 2011

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Toward an Expanded Notion of the Witness: The Promise of Armenian Oral History Collections

Toward an Expanded Notion of the Witness: The Promise of Armenian Oral History Collections

This spring marks the end of renowned historian Richard Hovannisian’s time at UCLA, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1962 and the first holder of the Armenian Education Foundation (AEF) Chair in Modern Armenian History since 1987. Those who are familiar with Hovannisian’s prolific record as a writer, editor, lecturer, organizer, and professor, might endow the news of his retirement with a hint of euphemism. In fact, during the recent event, “Forever our Professor,” organized in Hovannisian’s honor by his recent and former students, the beloved professor announced that he would return to the UCLA campus the following year to teach a course in Comparative Genocide Studies.

May 27th, 2011

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Genocide Memorials: Symbolism, Ritual Use, and Meaning

Genocide Memorials: Symbolism, Ritual Use, and Meaning

This year, April 24 falls on Easter Sunday, a coincidence that is symbolically significant, at once tragic and hopeful. Naturally, the confluence also presents scheduling difficulties for many members of the Armenian community. In recognition of that fact, the commemoration program at the Genocide memorial in Montebello, California, for example, will take place the day before, on April 23rd.

April 26th, 2011

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The Future of the Past: Toward the Preservation of Armenian Manuscripts

The Future of the Past: Toward the Preservation of Armenian Manuscripts

On January 19, 2011, the University of California, Los Angeles hosted a lecture by UC Davis Art History Professor Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh, entitled “Heritage in Conflict: The Modern Life of a Medieval Manuscript.” Watenpaugh’s lecture focused on the conflict surrounding the seven detached leaves of Canon Tables belonging to the Zeytʿun Gospels, which recently resurfaced after their mysterious disappearance half a century ago. In 1994, these missing pages were loaned by an anonymous collector to the Morgan Library in New York for a public exhibition. The same year, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles claimed to have legally acquired the Canon Tables – presumably from the same unnamed collector – for an unclosed sum of money. Last year, the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America filed a lawsuit against the J. Paul Getty Museum challenging its ownership of the Canon Tables and demanding their return. The Canon Tables were separated from the original Zeyt’un Gospels, currently housed in the Maštoc’ Matenadaran (Ms. 10450) in Yerevan Armenia, during the Armenian Genocide.

February 25th, 2011

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Critics Forum: The Year That Was (Not)

Critics Forum: The Year That Was (Not)

Hard to believe, but for the first nine months of the past year, Armenian theater in Southern California practically did not exist. It seemed as if all its key producers – aside from the Ardavazt Theater Company, which revived a pair of one-acts – had decided to stage … their own disappearance. Indeed, finding an Armenian play proved about as likely as encountering a unicorn.

December 30th, 2010

| Posted in 2010 Year-End Special, Columns, Community, Critics' Forum, Special Reports | Read More »

Western Armenian in Peril: UNESCO’s Recognition and the Question of Contemporary Literature in the Exilic Language

Western Armenian in Peril: UNESCO’s Recognition and the Question of Contemporary Literature in the Exilic Language

In February of this year, Western Armenian joined UNESCO’s online Atlas of World Languages in Danger1, earning the “definitely” status within the list’s degrees of endangerment. Out of the five-tier spectrum that ranges from “vulnerable” to “extinct,” “definitely endangered” refers to a language that children no longer learn as their mother tongue at home. The degrees of endangerment, which measure the diminishing vitality of vulnerable languages, are established fundamentally on the basis of a language’s intergenerational transmission, among other factors such as absolute number of speakers or proportion of usage within the total population. A language is considered extinct when, after a period of non-transmission, it has no more speakers.

August 4th, 2010

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The Forging of an Artistic Identity: A Gorky Retrospective

The Forging of an Artistic Identity: A Gorky Retrospective

Los Angeles is the proud recipient of the final installment of the traveling exhibition, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective. The exhibition began at the Philadelphia Museum of Art before moving on to the Tate Modern in London and is now appearing at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It will remain at MOCA’s downtown location on Grand Avenue, across the street from the Disney Concert Hall, until September 20, 2010. The show was organized by Michael Taylor, curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the College Art Association conference last year when we both presented papers on the panel titled Surrealism au naturel – he on Gorky and I on the Armenian surrealist, Léon Tutundjian.

July 2nd, 2010

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Sara Anjargolian’s Photography: Re-Imagining the Homeland in Diasporic Discourse

Sara Anjargolian’s Photography: Re-Imagining the Homeland in Diasporic Discourse

Los Angeles-based photographer Sara Anjargolian recently exhibited her work in the engaging and interactive exhibition, How We Live. Along with another of Anjargolian’s recent projects, Not Here, How We Live focuses its lens on Armenia; while the earlier traces the realities of poverty, the latter documents the disruptive effects of labor migration on families. Like many other diasporic artists, Anjargolian also uses her medium as a vehicle for coming to terms with the role of Armenia in her own identity. As artist and theorist R. B. Kitaj notes in First Diasporist Manifesto (1989), “Diasporist [art] is an unfolding commentary on its life-source” (p. 31), and as such, it reveals the responses to the condition of being in the diaspora. Therefore, beyond their immediate subject – the portrayal of poverty-stricken families in Armenia living in dire conditions and eking out a living for themselves – Anjargolian’s photographs also engage larger themes concerning the construction of diasporic identity as it relates to Armenia.

May 27th, 2010

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The Task of the Translator: Armenian Golgotha and the Conspiracy of History

The Task of the Translator: Armenian Golgotha and the Conspiracy of History

A film about the Armenian Genocide, Ravished Armenia, was recently screened in Pasadena’s Armenian Center. The film, directed by Eric Nazarian, is thought to be the first about the Genocide made in the United States.

April 29th, 2010

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Disregarding the Diaspora’s Cultural Production?

Disregarding the Diaspora’s Cultural Production?

In 2008, the Republic of Armenia announced the establishment of the Diaspora Ministry. Since then, this newly established governmental department has been implementing its primary mission, furthering the development of economic, social, and cultural ties between Armenia and the diaspora.

March 26th, 2010

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