October 29, 2020
Over many years, as an artist, I have worked many times in conflicted areas, and have responded to the local situation with nuanced and challenging artworks. Having previously shown my work twice in Armenia at The Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art - ACCEA (2018 and 2006), I am showing for the first time in Azerbaijan. My solo exhibition opened at YARAT Contemporary Art Centre March of this year and was extended due the pandemic.
In the meantime, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated; YARAT Contemporary Art Centre circulated, on social media, an image of the banner of my exhibition, next to the national flag covering the facade of its building, along with a politically motivated statement, which have nothing to do with my independent vision or the content of my exhibition. As the institution has rejected my requests to take down the exhibition banner and remove the aforementioned image from its social media, I have no other option, but to publicly demand the immediate closure of my exhibition at YARAT Contemporary Art Centre. I refuse to allow my work to fall prey to political instrumentalization.
I am very well aware that art institutions in many countries operate under difficult political circumstances, and some succumb to state pressures as a way of self-preservation. Still, regardless of the country, institutions must not endorse state interference and forfeit their primary mission of safeguarding artists' integrity, artworks, and exhibitions.
My exhibition was co-curated by Mari Spirito, Executive Director, Curator, Protocinema, which is why this letter comes from Protocinema.