Artist talk, Andrius Arutiunian

Andrius Arutiunian is an Armenian-Lithuanian composer and sound artist based in the Netherlands. His music explores the socio-cultural aspects of specific histories through their sonic artefacts, often dealing with identity, sonic appropriation and thresholds of noise and sound. Ideas of sonic re-arrangement and re-composition all form an important part of Arutiunian’s practice. His works comprise of electroacoustic pieces for various ensembles, sound installations and multimedia pieces, as well as solo electronic and audio-visual sets. Arutiunian’s pieces have been commissioned or performed by Slagwerk Den Haag, Nadar, MAZE, Ensemble Modelo62, Synaesthesis and other contemporary music groups. His work has been recently shown at documenta 14 Parliament of Bodies (DE), Contemporary Art Centre (LT), Melos-Ethos (SL), deSingel (BE) and MAZE Festival (NL) among others. Andrius Arutiunian’s works are published by Donemus (NL).

ARMEN – a/v installation & vinyl release | Andrius Arutiunian

ARMEN is based on found audio materials produced or released by Armenian producers living abroad. Due to the historic reasons, and in particular – the Armenian Genocide, Armenia has one of the largest modern diaspora communities in the world, spread across various continents. When a society is faced with such massive exile, it attempts to recreate its codes by reinforcing its own cultural practices and rituals. In this regard, music becomes one of the main activities that bind and keep communities close. As such, music also naturally absorbs the influences of other cultures and practices, based on where the diaspora communities have established themselves. As a consequence, musical traditions easily adapt and morph, often moving away from their “authentic“ roots and instead bridging the old knowledges with the new influences.

ARMEN is thus based on music made by Armenian diaspora composers and producers during the 70‘s on through the 90‘s – the same generation as my father, who also emigrated from Armenia. This music is collected while on a field trip in Armenia, in particular from found vinyl recordings and cassettes. All of the selected tracks – mainly pop and disco – share a certain sense of nostalgia and use traditional Armenian musical elements, thereby attempting to recreate a certain „Armenian“ feeling. In ARMEN, all of these tracks are carefully deconstructed and recomposed, not only transforming the music but also reconstructing their narratives anew. The echoes of the original material are exposed to signals, noises and glitchy textures, while reproducing the musical structures that create their “Armenian“ sound. Composed in such a way, the work not only connects various sources of Armenian diaspora music from across 
the globe, but also questions the way ethnic and cultural identities are constructed and transformed. Since the samples of Armenian music are collected mostly from obscure vinyl, the sound part of ARMEN is released as a limited-edition vinyl record, transferring the musical object back to the analogue realm.

ARMEN reflects not only the artist’s own personal experience of social and cultural migration, but also questions the idea of the migration itself, in particular how it affects societies and their cultures. The title of the piece also reflects this theme – Armen is one of the very few names in the world which directly stems from the name of its nation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Armen is also one of the most popular names amongst the Armenian diaspora worldwide. These ideas of diaspora, the “outside” and identity become the pivotal themes of ARMEN. Thus, through the musical transformation of the sound material which was produced in migration,the work raises the questions of integration, cultural appropriation and the flexibility of cultural identity within both Armenian and wider contexts.

The project is realized under the Financial Support for Art Projects program of Armenia Art Foundation. 

Saturday, 1 September 2018, 17:30 
Komitas Museum-Institute
Address: 28 Arshakunyats Ave., 
Yerevan, Armenia


Tuesday, 4 September 2018, 16:00
Gyumri Technology Center 
Address: 1 Gayi str.,
Gyumri, Armenia