Pic.: Vahram Aghasyan, 'Northern Avenue' in Yerevan


< rotor > and CCN present

>>     Vahram Aghasyan
Guest Artist from Yerevan

Lecture: "City without a Center"
on April 19, 2011, 7 pm at < rotor >
Photos from the lecture

< rotor >
Volksgartenstraße 6a
8020 Graz

In the frame of the artist-in-residence exchange programme of < rotor >, the Armenian artist Vahram Aghasyan spends one month in Graz. On the 19th of April he talks about urban developments in Yerevan, specifically about the Northern Avenue and its history.

Vahram Aghasyan, born 1974, lives and works in Yerevan, Armenia.

in cooperation with:
Cultural City Network Graz   www.ccn-graz.net

City without a Center.
Construction as a Criminal Act

Lecture by Vahram Aghasyan on April 19, 2011, 7 pm at < rotor >, in English language

The Northern Avenue in Yerevan was planned as a street to connect two city centers (the opera house and the Republic Square) with each other, as part of a master plan developed in the 1920s by the architect Aleksandr Tamanyan. This overall plan signifies the enthusiasm of the 1920s to construct a just, equal, and prospering society, and was accompanied by the desire of designing a garden city.

Under the influence of Stalinist revisionist politics of the 1930s, the socialist city started to be constructed in a neoclassical style, and the modernist plan was omitted. Except for administrative buildings and avenues, the rest of the city center (secondary streets, alleys and yards) were left unfinished.

Later, WWII, Stalin’s death, and the beginning of the Cold War led to the cancellation of the construction of Yerevan’s center together with Northern Avenue and there was no construction allowed in this section of the city until recently. The collapse of the Soviet Union and Armenian independence, followed by economic ups and downs, the breakage in the functioning of electricity, public transportation and communication networks, as well as a “wild” privatization process, and fragmentation of the public space had a huge impact on the city.

Northern Avenue is now in the axis of recent urban developments. On the one hand, it serves economic interests of dominant groups of society and the strengthening of their political power, on the other hand it is in the middle of a revival of economy and development of tourism, which encourages the commodification of national symbols and culture. A high percentage of property owners are from Armenian Diaspora, who are in Yerevan only for few months during the summer and rich Armenians, who regard having property in this section as an investment. In addition, frequent traffic jams and the continued presence of construction dust will keep and conserve the Northern Avenue as a ghost city or an inner void in the center of Yerevan for a long time.