Dilijan Arts Observatory (2016)

The Arts Observatory took place in Dilijan, Armenia, from August 22 to September 11, 2016. Curated by Clémentine Deliss it was supported by philanthropists Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend, founders of the United World College Dilijan, and of RVVZ and IDeA charitable organisations.

In the ancient spa town and mountain retreat of Dilijan—which once hosted writer Anna Seghers, and composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten—a group of artists, designers, historians and practitioners undertook fieldwork in the town, working closely with its citizens and identifying local wisdom and folkways. Fieldwork activities included investigations into memory and transmission, composition and astronomy; Soviet architecture and design; style, crafts, graphics; culinary knowledge; wilderness, botany and future products for survival. The Arts Observatory, which exenteded into the town of Dilijan and neighbouring villages, established its headquarters  at “Impuls” the former Soviet electronics factory. A classic example of Soviet industrial architecture, Impuls once employed over 4000 local people, of which the majority were women. It was under the order of the Soviet Defence Ministry before it was privatised in 1991. The factory had been abandoned for over ten years, leaving all the old machinery, furniture and workers’ archives in situ.

Participants of the Arts Observatory were: Vahram Aghasyan (Armenia), Haig Aivazian (Canada), Alen Amirkhanian (Armenia), Ruben Arevshatyan (Armenia), Erik van Buuren (Netherlands), Katerina Chuchalina (Russia), Vardan Danielyan (Armenia), Mohamad Deeb (Lebanon), Clémentine Deliss (GB), Silvina Der Meguerditchian (Armenia), Arpad Dobriban (Germany), Andrew de Freitas (New Zealand), David Galstyan (Armenia), Vigen Galstyan (Armenia), Natasha Gasparian (Lebanon), Raphaela Grolimund (Switzerland), Angela Harutyunyan (Armenia), Krispin Heé (Switzerland), Misha Hollenbach, Perks and Mini (Austria), Marc Norbert Hörler (Switzerland), Marianna Hovhannisyan (Armenia), Christoph Keller (Germany), Aram Keryan (Armenia), Nairi Khatchadourian (Armenia), Antje Majewski (Germany), Augustin Maurs (France), Ioana Mitrea (Romania), Maria Mkrtycheva (Russia), Mathilde Rosier (Switzerland), Marcello Spada (Italy), Pascal Storz (Switzerland), Shauna Toohey, Perks and Mini (Austria), Joanna Sokolowska (Poland), Hasmik Ter-Voskanian (Armenia), Vangjush Vellahu (Albania), Jasmine Werner (Germany), Asya Yaghmurian (Armenia), Nork Zakarian (Egypt).

On September 10 and 11, 2016, a two-day public event was held in the factory. It presented the results of the Observatory’s research with a series of events, including an all-night symphony, forest kitchens and culinary festivities, performances and exhibitions, as well as an international round-table debate on life practices and the arts.

The outcome of the Dilijan Arts Observatory featured in the exhibition “Hello World” in summer 2018. The section curated by Clémentine Deliss was called “Portable Homelands, from field to factory” and included paintings by Heinrich Vogeler, historical pamphlets produced by Armenians around the world, alongside the artworks, videos, and investigations created in Dilijan during the Arts Observatory.


Film by Vardan Danielyan