Throughout the month of April, the Museum of Neon Art
will display a new window-based public display in honor of Armenian History Month. The exhibit presents an excerpt of a poem in Armenian and English under neon lights representing the Armenian flag; it faces the paseo in front of the museum and will be best viewed when the sun sets. The exhibition was created by MONA and Leaf Cutter Studio.
The display features the tricolors of the Armenian flag - red, a symbol of sacrifice and will to survive; blue for the blue skies of the ancestral homeland under which Armenians dream to live peacefully; and orange, for the fields of the Armenian Highlands and the hardworking nature of the Armenian people. Accompanying the neon flag is a verse from Armenian poet Paruyr Sevaks book of poems, Anlreli Zangakatun, in Armenian and English.
Anlreli Zangakatun literally translates as the Bell tower that is incapable of being silenced. Bells and bell towers are a call to action or a warning of danger ahead, but they fall silent when the call to action is over, or the danger has passed. In this case, the bell tower represents the inability to stay silent because the call to action - the call for justice - has not yet been concluded, says Curator of Engagement and Education, Ani Mnatsakanyan.
Visitors will have the opportunity to pause for a moment of silence in honor of the 1.5 million Armenians massacred during the Armenian Genocide and the millions of others who were orphaned and displaced globally as a result of the state-sanctioned massacres. This April 24th will mark the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire. To this day, the government of Turkey denies their role in the genocide.
The chosen verse from the poem Chime of Revelation is a reminder of the silence of the American government in regards to the genocide, and each Presidents empty promise to officially recognize the 1915 massacres as Genocide. The poem and display honor the Armenian-American communitys persistent dedication to genocide awareness in order to heal the open wounds of their ancestors, and seek justice. A genocide forgotten is a genocide repeated, and acknowledgement of the past helps other marginalized communities escape a similar fate.
The 44-day war in 2020 that was waged against the indigenous Armenians in Artsakh by Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, retraumatized Armenians globally, because it brought up unresolved emotions about the continuous denial and cultural erasure of the Armenian people by Turkey and Azerbaijan. This years Genocide commemoration will be especially difficult to cope with as a result of that, but the support for the community through artistic means is meant to highlight the resilient spirit of the Armenian people and provide some light during these dark times through the arts, says MONA Curator of Engagement and Education, Ani Mnatsakanyan.
May this shine like a beacon to those souls lost from the Armenian Genocide and be a symbol of strength for those that look upon it today, states Dave Otis Johnson of Leaf Cutter Studio.
Art is a way to process trauma, remember loss, and imagine a new world. Unfortunately this past year so many of us have faced great fear, loss, and pain. Paruyr Sevak uses light as a metaphor to speak about loss, xenophobia, and brokenness, themes that are unfortunately universal. Sevaks words are also very specific, connected to the Armenian struggle for recognition and remembrance of their ancestors and the state violence they faced. MONA is proud to stand in solidarity and remembrance with our Armenian community and neighbors. Through the metaphor of light, and the use of bright beckoning neon lights we hope to provide a place to think critically, heal, and remember, says Executive Director Corrie Siegel.