Blind Dates Project


Հայերեն | English

Strategies of (Un)Silencing

Conference in Yerevan-Armenia
Date: Friday and Saturday October 26th and 27th, 2012
Venue: American University of Armenia, Alex and Marie Manoogian Hall


Conference program and videos found below:


Constructing and Deconstructing Empires: National Narratives Reconsidered
Moderator/ Discussant: Vahan Bournazian, human rights attorney and educator

11:00 – 2:00
Conflicting Visions of Liberation – Vardan Azatyan , Associate Professor in art history at Yerevan State Academy of Fine Art;
The Harem from Orientalism to Popular Culture: Post-Ottoman Women’s Fashion – Aikaterini Gegisian, London based visual artist represented by the Kalfayan Gallery in Athens;
National Narratives and Narrative Forms – Hrach Bayadyan, lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, Yerevan State University;
Armenian Representation in Turkey during the Post WWII Period – Talin Suciyan, PhD Candidate and Teaching Fellow, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich;
Anthropological Curiosities at the Frontier: Kars, Pamuk and Others- Zeynep Sariaslan, research fellow, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich

7:30 – 9:00
Bonds between Prisoners: Indians and Armenians in the ‘Death Camps’ of Syria, 1916-1918 – Amitav Ghosh, internationally renowned novelist and the award winning author of
Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke

(Im)Possibilities of (Un) Silencing Violence and Trauma
Moderator/ Discussant: Siranush Dvoyan, litereary critic and comparative literature lecturer

11:00 – 2:00
Texts, Spies and Loyalty: The Politics of Ottoman-Armenian Print Culture - Nanor Kebranian, Assistant Professor of Armenian Studies at Columbia University;
Traumatic Infidelities: The Experience and its Translators in Mabel Elliott and Zabel Yesayan - Shushan Avagyan, translator and lecturer, American University of Armenia;
Charents-Oshakan: On a Case of Ontological Incompatibility- Ashot Voskanyan, PhD in Philiosophy and an advisor to Armenia’s Foreign Ministry Africa and Asia Division;
Silent speech and the politics of intimacy – Kathleen MacQueen, art historian and a writer based in New York;
Nowhere: An excerpt from a novel-in-progress – Viken Berberian is the author of  two novels The Cyclist and Das Kapital

Ruptures and Ruins: (Re) Imagining Imperial Remnants
Moderator/Discussant: initiator, organizer and producer of the SoUS conference, Neery Melkonian, is a New York and Yerevan based independent critic/curator who serves as the external director of the Blind Dates Project, and with Defne Ayas she was the founding co-curator of the Pratt exhibition. The next edition, reformulated edition by an expanded curatorial team, is planned to migrate to Istanbul and Yerevan in 2013.

3:00 – 6:00
A Travel Guide to the East of the Empire- Zülal Nazan Üstündağ, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at Boğaziçi University;
Time for Ruination: The Life of Armenian Aesthetics - David Kazanjian, Associate Professor of English, Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, University of Pennsylvania ;
A New Dictionary for Image-Forming Art: Soviet/Post Soviet Portraiture - Arevik Arevshatyan, mixed media visual artist, stage designer and an essayist;
Disputed Criticality: Tensions within the Field of Contemporary Art in Istanbul – Erden Kosova, is an art critic based in Istanbul and editor of;
Locating a Revanchist Continuum in Post-Ottoman Istanbul- Paul Benjamin Osterlund, graduate student in Turkish Studies at Sabanci University

Strategies of (Un) Silencing (SoUS) is an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural conference that seeks to explore the intersections among artistic practice, literature, and ethics/law. By extending a platform for subjectivities, real or imagined, that do not fit neatly into existing taxonomies of nation-states and other mainstream institutional configurations, we hope to identify over-arching themes that have been marginalized across time and place. Striving to better understand the complexities of the current Armenian/Turkish divides, the gathering wishes to attract new research from international voices. The aim is to loosen the knots of repressed memories, silenced (hi)stories, and unresolved sentiments/perceptions associated with dominant narratives that are sustained by oppositional paradigms (such as  Inside/Outside, Us/Them, We/I, Private/Public etc.).  As continuation of a series of discussions that began in context of a New York based curatorial undertaking entitled Blind Dates: New Encounters from the Edges of a Former Empire (please see below), the conference will examine what ‘remains’ of the human geography that once constituted the vast territory of the Ottoman Empire, while also inviting comparisons/contrasts in tackling the ‘residues’ of similar or parallel ruptures, including those involving the Soviet regime and the Cold War. Topics of interest include: border, migration, labor, economy, ecology, religion, nationalism, violence, human rights, knowledge production, artistic systems, language, translation, media, new technologies, secrecy, democracy, freedom, gender, family, friendship, sexuality, love etc. In summary, new discursive cartographies based on shared affinities among the incongruent or the fragmented are welcome, as well as accounts of unities that do not resort to uniformity.

The Conference is conceived and organized by Neery Melkonian, Independent Art Critic/Curator and External Director of Blind Dates Project, with co-moderators Siranush Dvoyan, Literature Professor, Yerevan State University and Vahan Bournazian, Human Rights Advocate, Educator, and Attorney, and art critic/curator Erden Kosova as advisor.

Presenters’ Videos 


STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Vardan Azatyan from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Aikaterini Gegisian from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Hrach Bayadyan from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Talin Suciyan from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Zeynep Sariaslan from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Amitav Ghosh from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Nanor Kebranian from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Shushan Avagyan from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Ashot Voskanyan from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Kathleen MacQueen from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Zülal Nazan Üstündağ from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: David Kazanjian from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Arevik Arevshatyan from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Erden Kosova from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Paul Benjamin Osterlund from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Panel 1 from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Panel 2 from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

STRATEGIES OF (UN)SILENCING: Panel 3 from Neery Melkonian on Vimeo.

As a fiscally sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts, SoUS is made possible by a grant from Open Society Foundations-Armenia, and complimented with contributions by individual patrons including: Christopher Atamian; Ken Darian; Law Office of Souren Israelian; Varouj Koundakjian, and Joyce Ellen Reilly

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