Sites of Fracture: Diasporic Imaginings of Occupied Artsakh

ReflectSpace Gallery
Co-Curated with Anahid and Ara Oshagan

Sites of Fracture is a virtual exhibition that brings together diasporan Armenian artists to build collective counter-narratives to the forces of occupation and cultural erasure in the Republic of Artsakh.

In September 2020, the autocratic state of Azerbaijan invaded the Republic of Artsakh and initiated an campaign of ethnic cleansing targeting its Indigenous Armenian population. With a vastly out-financed military and direct support from Turkey, Azerbaijan succeeded in occupying large swaths of the region. In the process, thousands lost their lives and 100,000 Armenians were displaced from their ancestral homes. The global Armenian diaspora was gripped by the collective trauma of watching events in Artsakh unfold at a distance via digital screens and televisual transmissions. As Indigenous Armenian heritage faced systematic destruction, a cadre of diasporan Armenian artists responded with projects that counter the attempted erasure of Armenian identities, histories, and culture-making.

Sites of Fracture also gestures towards the repatriation of ancestral lands. The virtual exhibition takes place in the photographically reconstructed fortress of the city of Shushi—Artsakh’s historical cultural capital, now occupied by Azerbaijan. In the process, Sites of Fracture imagines decolonized futures for Shushi, envisioning an independent Republic of Artsakh wherein Indigenous communities exercise the right to self-governance and cultural autonomy.

Artists and cultural workers in the exhibit include Kamee Abrahamian, Ali Cat Leeds/Entangled Roots Press, Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Naré Mkrtchyan, Nelli Sargsyan, She Loves Collective, Scout Tufankjian, Anahid Yahjian, and Yerazad Coalition.

The exhibition is accessible via 3D virtual gallery hosted on the ReflectSpace website.

Sites of Fracture is also part of the Glendale Library Arts & Culture’s (GLAC) “Be the Change” series focuses on: Inclusion – Diversity – Equity – Antiracism. “Be The Change” events will build collective understanding of systemic racism, elevate the voices and stories of BIPOC, and inspire our community to be the change. “Be The Change” is sponsored by the City of Glendale, California Arts and Culture Commission, with funding from the City of Glendale Urban Art Fund.

ReflectSpace Gallery at the Glendale Central Library opened in 2017 when the library reopened after a major renovation. It came at the behest of The Glendale City Council for a city space to address the Armenian Genocide and other human atrocities. ReflectSpace is an exhibition space designed to explore and reflect on genocides, human and civil rights violations. Immersive in conception, ReflectSpace is a hybrid space that exhibits contemporary art as well as archives, employing installation, technology and interactive media to engage viewers on an emotional and personal level. ReflectSpace strives to reflect the past and present of Glendale’s communal fabric and interrogate current global human rights issues.

Image: Fernando Diaz, Diagram for Algorithmic Bias Training.