2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of prominent Armenian composer & ethnomusicologist Komitas Vardapet.
Komitas’s 150th jubilee
is included in the 2018-2019 UNESCO calendar of anniversary celebrations.
Komitas (Kütahya, 1869 – Paris, 1935) - born Soghomon Soghomonian, was a phenomenal musician who contributed greatly to the music world of the 20th century by creating both an original and a reformative oeuvre, where “nature speaks in the songs” as their threads are intimately woven into the fabric of the environment and the society. Ordained a Vardapet (celibate priest Doctor in Theology) at the age of 25, Komitas pursued a prolific musical career. As a composer, he created the foundations for a modern national musical tradition by introducing sophisticated polyphony while maintaining the distinctive Armenian modal scales and musical accents found in the long legacy of traditional music. He undertook a tireless and meticulous ethnographical fieldwork by traveling to the most remote Armenian regions and rural villages, ultimately collecting over 4,000 pieces of folk music. By valuing the importance of folk music, Komitas used this heritage in his compositions, even before the most prominent ethnomusicologists of the 20th century, such as Bela Bartok, Zoltan Kodaly, George Enescu, and others. His compositional output was relatively modest yet with a style unmatched by any of his contemporaries (80 choral pieces and songs, arrangements of the Divine Liturgy, and some pieces for piano). His compositions amplified the raw beauty of his original recordings, and his performances, with unrivalled mastery and charisma, captivated all.
Rather than a national survival undertaking, Komitas’s work brought a modern cultural revival. Turned iconic to the extent of being idolized, Komitas and the legacy he left contain an immeasurable heritage to be studied by scholars and remain a source of inspiration for many artists and composers. Less known abroad today than during his lifetime, the significance of Komitas’s oeuvre and musical thought are valuable pieces in the music history of the world.
The Future Thinker is an artistic program dedicated to celebrate Komitas’s jubilee anniversary both in Armenia and worldwide and discuss the contemporary perspectives on his legacy.
The Future Thinker exhibition will take place in open-air areas featuring 150 posters designed by renowned Armenian artists and designers to celebrate Komitas’s lecagy visually. Through the posters, the artists will retrospectively look back at Komitas’s legacy, outline the role he has had in shaping a nation’s musical culture, shed light on how art can become a powerful bond of unity and play a vital role in education and intercultural dialogue. The outdoor poster art exhibition will be based on the statement “The Future Thinker”, an expression used by Komitas in one of the letters he wrote in Paris in 1906, responding to a letter he received from his close friend musician Margarit Babayan.
To enhance the engagement with the public, a participative pavilion will be installed within the outdoor exhibition, where everyone could come, design his/her poster, or bring a printed one, and add it to the pavilion wall.
To offer an even richer experience to the public, multi-media content will be developed. The poster displays will have QR codes to link to additional artist information and additional exhibit content. Depending on the content of each poster, either historical or musical information will be shared.
The exhibition is aimed at defining new aesthetic values by following Komitas’s artistic principles, where his avant-garde creation was built on unearthing the traditions of the past and awakening the raw beauty of our surrounding landscape while being forward-thinker, pushing the boundaries, and constantly bringing aesthetic innovation.
Posters have served for a long time as a utilitarian communication medium. The Future Thinker posters will have an aesthetic discourse along. The outdoor exhibition will highlight how designed pieces are artefacts rooted in a contextual environment with its social and historical layers and how nature and culture are intertwined.
The Future Thinker outdoor exhibition will have its online platform. The virtual exhibition will feature all the 150 posters exhibited outdoor. The posters created by the public in the participative pavilion will constantly be added. It will also allow any user to upload his/her contribution directly online.
The virtual exhibition will be launched at the same time as the opening of the outdoor exhibition.
The virtual exhibition will increase its engagement with the audience in a new and engaging way, both locally and internationally, and will create a durable online record.
More than a direct translation of the physical outdoor exhibition, the virtual exhibition will be based on a parallel narrative user experience. It will have facilities to include more content next to the artworks (stories behind the posters, information about the creator, music streeming) and all of the materials will be sharable via social media channels.
The Future Thinker outdoor exhibition will be first organized in Yerevan, Armenia. Thanks to the weather-resistant display and pavilion installation of the exhibition being portable, it will be easy to implement it in other parks in different cities of Armenia.
In a perspective to decentralize the cultural hubs existing in the capital city Yerevan and make the public constantly surprised and engaged, The Future Thinker exhibition will have its central installation in the wide and extensive Komitas Park near the Pantheon and the Komitas Museum-Institute, yet some posters will also be displayed in the following parks in the center of Yerevan:
Komitas square (in front of the Conservatory)
The Future Thinker outdoor exhibition will travel to Paris, France. It will be installed in the Jardin d’Erevan (Yerevan Garden) in the 8th district of Paris. The Yerevan Garden was inaugurated in 2009 by Bertrand Delanoë, former Mayor of Paris.
Located behind the status of Komitas (sculpted by Davit Yerebantzi and inaugurated in 2003), as the memorial monument of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the garden consists of a long lawn of 4,950 m2 between two rows of tall trees.
The Future Thinker exhibition installed in Yerevan will be identically implemented in the Yerevan Garden in Paris. A few selected posters created by the public in the participative pavilion will be added to the permanent exhibition and such a participative pavilion will also be installed in Paris in order for visitors to make their contribution as well.
Other possible locations
New York (High line), Moscow (Tverskoy Boulevard)
limited-edition artist book
The exhibition catalogue will have the format of an artist book, where the exhibition manifesto and posters will be a mean to explore the possibilities within the medium of the book. The exquisitely crafted artist book will be published in limited-edition (150 copies).
The Future Thinker virtual exhibition will also promote the ebook to be developed with AVC to present Komitas’s legacy in a more exhaustive way.
The exhibition will be implemented in close collaboration with governmental and public institutions: the Ministry of Culture, the Yerevan City Hall, the Komitas Museum-Institute. Both Yerevan Magazine and the Regional Post will publish one special issue dedicated to Komitas’s 150th jubilee promoting The Future Thinker exhibition. The independent artistic initiative Rambalkoshe will also partner with the project.
We will cooperate with institutions in France (Paris City Hall, AGBU France) and have media partners covering the project (France Arménie, Nouvelles d’Arménie, Nor Haratch, etc.).
The project duration is one year. The outdoor exhibition in Yerevan will open in Spring 2019 (May) along with the publication of the catalogue and the launch of the virtual exhibition. The exhibition will travel to Paris in Fall 2019 (October) and will last until December (3 months).
"The Future Thinker" exhibition in Yerevan
Exhibition Curation, Design, and Production
"The Future Thinker" exhibition in Paris
Exhibition Curation, Design, and Production
Design & Development
The impact generated through the project The Future Thinker will be both local and international, promoting both Komitas’s legacy and the contemporary design field of Armenia. The project will enable each partner to:
increase its reach and exposure and have access to a bigger target and audience,
establish close relationships with participant artists and partners engaged in the project,
educate and engage with existing and new public (both in Armenia and in France, both offline and online),
generate massive media coverage,
boost its position both in the diaspora communities and in Armenia as the leading organization continuously creating a vibrant intellectual culture.
2 creative minds
aha collective was founded by two creative minds, who have a strong background in preserving, developing, and sharing the Armenian cultural heritage with a variety of public and through different mediums (exhibition, publication, workshop, online and mobile application).
As a collective, we collaborate with a number of artists, musicians, IT specialists, and scholars to bring the outmost of Armenia’s culture to the world.
Each project curated and designed by aha collective is aimed at elevating Armenia’s profile as a global capital for creativity, innovation, and excellence.
CURATOR & EDUCATOR
CREATIVE DIRECTOR & GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Nairi is a Paris-born curator and educator who has extensive experience in the cultural and educational fields. She has curated a great number of exhibitions at the Komitas Museum-Institute presenting both intangible (music, folklore) and tangible Armenian heritage and co-curated two editions of design pavilions dedicated to contemporary Armenian designers. Nairi has published a number of catalogues and has implemented educational workshops for various audiences.
Nané is a multi-talented designer and creative director with years of experience working in branding, UI, scenography, and graphic design. She is the co-founder of D’efekt, a mobile app to create badass art that gets you noticed. Always keen to new ideas and concepts, Nané works both with printed materials and exhibition/installation design, and she enjoys crafting user experiences for websites and mobile applications.