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Risen
April 14 - 28, 2018

Curated by ace/121 resident artist, Margarita Simonian, Risen presented work in various mediums that collectively addressed the theme of the Armenian genocide of 1915. Rather than focus on the hardship of this dark history, Simonian chose instead to propose a show that offered an alternative look into this darkness – one of survival and hope.

 

The Armenian Genocide is considered by many scholars and nations including France, Canada, Germany and the European Parliament as the first genocide of the 20th century. It has not, however, been officially recognized by Turkey and others (including the United States). The term “genocide” did not exist in 1915; the word was created in 1944 by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, who was also influenced by the Armenian atrocities, to describe the Nazi regime’s attempt to eradicate the Jewish population from Europe. The word is a mixture of the Greek γένος (génos, “race, kind”) and the Latin suffix -cīda (“killing”).

 

It is understood that the genocide began on the eve of April 24th, 1915 when hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were collectively arrested and assassinated by the Ottoman government (current day Republic of Turkey). The policy of genocide began with the annihilation of the entire male population while the women, children and elderly were marched into the Syrian desert. During these “death marches,” tens of thousands perished from starvation and dehydration. Young women and children were kidnapped from their families, abducted, raped, and forcefully Turkified.  Others, in order to escape humiliation and violence, committed suicide.

 

Simonian, an artist herself, chose this exhibition to overlap with the Day of Remembrance, April 24th.  In her view, it is important to educate non-Armenians about these tragic events in order to bring awareness to the reality that genocide continues to happen in the present day. Given this dark past, it would seem obvious and appropriate to focus on these atrocities in the form of art-making. Working closely with both resident artists of ACE/121 and the greater Armenian art community, Simonian envisioned a group show that would recognize the darkness of history and imagine a possible alternative future that emerges. Indeed, how through a persistence to accept and acknowledge horrific pasts, do we rise from these shadows?

- Margarita Simonian, resident and curator & Ben Evans, ace/121 Gallery director