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A Conversation with Arsinée Khanjian & Screening of “Auction of Souls” | Performing the Archive: A Conversation on Art, Engagement, and Armenianness

April 7, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm



Thursday, April 7, 2022 at 7 PM

State Theatre | Theater 2, 233 South State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Free and open to the public. No registration required.

Arsinée Khanjian, actress, performer, producer, and civil rights activist

Marie-Aude Baronian, Associate Professor, University of Amsterdam

Auction of Souls
Performing Memory by and with Arsinée Khanjian

With Elmira Bahrami, Taner Şahintürk and Jesse Jonas Kracht

In 1918, “Ravished Armenia,” the eyewitness account of then 18-year-old Aurora Mardiganian, which relentlessly described her ordeal through the massacre of the Armenians, triggered a wave of shock. Only a handful of scenes and the script have survived from the film version that was created in 1919 with Aurora in the leading role. The copies disappeared just like Aurora, who died penniless and forgotten in Los Angeles at 92 years old. Arsinée Khanjian reconstructs the story of a desperate attempt to relate the indescribable.

Arsinée Khanjian aims not only to pay homage to her but also to re-construct her life story based on archival materials while interrogating the artistic means to do so. By referring to Mardiganian’s memoirs, Khanjian questions the afterlife and the meaning of Aurora’s female body and image in the present day through a wide range of artistic and media devices (e.g. cinema, theater, dance). For the 2022 Dr. Berj H. Haidostian Distinguished Lecture Arsinée Khanjian, in conversation with scholar Marie-Aude Baronian, will discuss the genesis of “Performing Memory” and its various interpretative layers. They will also reflect upon broader issues such as the links between archives and memory, between art and political engagement, or between performance and Armenianness. Ultimately, this talk will stress the necessity of elaborating and including artistic practices in Armenian studies.

Arsinée Khanjian is a Canadian-Armenian-Lebanese actress, performer, producer, and civil rights activist. Throughout her career as an artist, she has extensively worked with her partner, Canadian-Armenian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, and she collaborated with numerous international filmmakers such as, a.o., Michael Haneke, Catherine Breillat, the Taviani brothers, Olivier Assayas, and Fatih Akin. Khanjian is also actively involved in several artistic and community groups: she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Zoryan Institute for International Genocide and Human Rights Studies, of Canada’s leading contemporary art gallery The Power Plant, and was Co-Chair of the renowned Canadian contemporary dance company, Dancemakers.

Marie-Aude Baronian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She has extensively lectured and written about Armenian diasporic visual arts, ethics and aesthetics, film and philosophy, media and memory, fashion/textile and visual culture, and material objects. Her most recent monographs include “Screening Memory: The Prosthetic Images of Atom Egoyan” (2017), and “Image et Mémoire: Regards sur la Catastrophe arménienne” (2013).

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