From May 7 until September 11 at Yerevan’s premiere contemporary art space NPAK (the acronym stands for the Armenian equivalent of ACCEA or the Armenian Center for Contemporary and Experimental Art), both locals and tourists can enjoy a well-curated and thorough overview of the life and work of this Armenian Mandela. The exhibition “Hrant Dink: Here and Now” presents a selection from the Istanbul-based 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory, successfully detailing the life and struggle of this intellectual who fought so hard to make the world a better, more compassionate place. The exhibition creates a digital bridge of sorts, as visitors in Istanbul can watch real time video of Yerevantsis at NPAK and vice-versa. At both NPAK and the 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory, Dink narrates and tells his own life story. Watching video and hearing recordings of a man who fell victim to the millennial Armenian struggle for survival is chilling at times. Separate corners of the exhibition focus on themes such as memory, justice, and minority rights in Turkey. In the future, one might also like to see a similar corner devoted to the same issues in Armenia.
Started in 1992 by Sonia and Ed Balassanian, NPAK has grown into the premiere contemporary art space in Armenia. The curatorial team for this show is long but bears mentioning in full: Arat Dink, Sera Dink, Maral Dink, Nayat Karakösem, Neslihan Koyuncu and Talin Süzme. Visitors can also experience their curatorial vision via a virtual tour of the 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory. Although the virtual tour doesn’t precisely replicate the Armenian exhibition, its content overlaps enough with the Yerevan exhibition. The clips of Dink in the show come to us from Turkey’s mainstream media as well as his appearances in Armenia. The curators also intended that the visitor learn about Dink’s dreams and struggles as an Armenian born in Turkey in the post-Genocide period. The Hrant Dink Foundation, 23.5 and NPAK have also planned collateral events during the show’s run such as the upcoming Talk on Art and Memory, on July 29.
This multimedia exhibition is hopefully a harbinger of things to come in Yerevan’s increasingly sophisticated art and video scene, as it extends the range of the performance space/gallery/museum to one of explicit social and historical engagement. It creates a much-needed bridge between Turks and Armenians, as well as to any other people who come to the show live or via internet. Armenians have many heroes over the centuries who made their reputation on the battlefield. Dink however was a soldier of peace, something the world needs today more than ever. If the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend toward justice as the great Martin Luther King once said, then this exhibition helps it bend a fraction more, one visitor at a time.
Visit “Hrant Dink: Here and Now”: https://hrantdink.org/en/site-of-memory/announcements/3694-hrant-dink-here-and-now-exhibition-in-yerevan