European Astronomy

Installation (medium: fabrique flizelinium)
In the group show “Euroremont”
Center of Contemporary Experimental Art (CCEA), September, 2005, Yerevan, Armenia.
Curator: Susanna Gyulamiryan.

The European Astronomy project was exhibited as part of the
“Euroremont” [1] group exhibition presented in the Center of Contemporary Experimental Art (CCEA) in Yerevan, 2005. In the post-Soviet countries, and particularly in Armenia, the political, economic, and cultural phenomena of the period, and the subsequent developments they triggered, incited debates within the society, which also found reflection in the art projects of the period.
The concept of European Astronomy is conceived as a reaction to some of the issues post-Soviet marginal intellectuals and artists (those ready and
willing to reflect on the post-Soviet problematic) were most concerned about – What are the criteria allowing post-Soviet societies to appear and be perceived as fully European? Do these countries, now part of the Commonwealth of Independent States, participate in European process? Is it possible to meaningfully speak about a new European modernization process in the post-Soviet space after the collapse of the Soviet Union?
Eurodevelopment, which is now part and parcel of post-Soviet Armenia’s official policy line, is well reminiscent of the pseudo optimism of the actual Soviet period, when the promises of ‘a better future’ were the inseparable components of the state’s clichéd propaganda. Put it otherwise, Armenia’s Europeanization implies the promotion of values and principles of Human Rights and Western-style democratization. Yet, the process the way it is enacted in Armenia is rather superficial and cosmetic, much like the ways people try to renovate and redesign their Soviet apartments (as well as the streets and the city space) to give them European looks. A process that usually involves the introduction of European style minimal aesthetics combined with local tastes and standards. This practice, commonly called Euroremont (‘remont [ремонт]’ is the Russian for 'house renovation'), usually produces results that are eclectic and highly 'kitschy'.
European Astronomy is an installation featuring the blue flag of the European Union where the stars (symbolizing the member states) appear as 'windows to Europe.' The flag is fixed on the windows of the exhibition hall, and the outside light has no passage into the exhibition hall other than through the star-shaped holes, which are cut in the blue fabric of the flag. This gesture on part of the artist points out to all the mutilations and distortions Armenia's project of Eurodevelopment is known to be undergoing. Euroremont is the integral part of this process; one that, notwithstanding its polemic, well contradicts the ideals of Human Rights and Democracy. In fact, Europemont is a daily scenario in Armenia; one that mainly springs from the country's prevalent political authoritarianism, economic anarchy, and its inhumane cultural reality.
By S. Gyulamiryan
[1] In the Armenian context the word “remont” is adopted from the Russian word (ремонт), which, besides its military meaning, means renovation. In the post-Soviet Armenian context this Russian version of the word is usually used by virtue of the bilingualism that has come from the Soviet period. Remont - Rus. to restore to good condition, make new or as if new again, repair, renovate
[2] The Soviet ideology defined its political regime as ‘social democracy’; Soviet elections and the structure of the Soviets only formally pertained to the nature of democracy. This form of democracy used to be a repressive tool for the totalitarian regime. The epithet ‘socialist’ denoted a meaning antonymic to the word ‘democracy’. Likewise, the semantics of the word ‘Euroremont’ is contrary to its substance.