January 5, 2011

Pratt Manhattan Gallery and Blind Dates Project present an exhibition and a public lecture that explore the remains of the former Ottoman Empire

Pratt Institute

Pratt Manhattan Gallery, in conjunction with the Blind Dates Project, presents “Blind Dates: New Encounters from the Edges of a Former Empire,” an exhibition of 13 new projects based on curatorial match-making that centers around the peoples, places, and cultures that once constituted the vast geography of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922). The exhibition is guest-curated by Defne Ayas and Neery Melkonian.

Exhibiting artists, many of whom have ties to countries including Armenia, Bosnia, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey, utilized the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent formation of nation states throughout the region as a point of departure to explore the effects of various forms of ruptures, gaps, erasures, and reconstructions. An underlying theme of the exhibition is formed by diasporas, or transnational cultural cartographies that offer non-conventional temporal and spatial configurations, through the prism of contemporary lived experiences.

“At the heart of ‘Blind Dates’ are research-based collaborations by artists who explore attachments to images, voices, and histories that collide with existing taxonomies of nation-states, art histories, and identities,” said Melkonian. Ayas added that the exhibition, which was envisioned as ongoing and open to reformulation, “extends a rare platform for artists and cultural producers from the former Ottoman region.”

Participants include: Silva Ajemian and Aslihan Demirtas; Karen Andreassian with Citizen Walker Sergey; Hrayr Anmahouni Eulmessekian with Sound Scholar Anahid Kassabian; Michael Blum and Damir Niksic; Jean Marie Casbarian with historian Nazan Maksudyan; Özge Ersoy with Taline Toutounjian; Linda Ganjian and Elif Uras; Aram Jibilian with Aaron Mattocks as Arshile Gorky’s ghost; Nina Katchadourian and Ahmet Ögüt; Karine Matsakian and Sona Abgarian; Stefanos Tsivopoulos with dancers Ursula Eagly, Carlos Fittante and Christopher Williams; Jalal Toufic with Ottoman translator Professor Selim S. Kuru; and xurban_collective (Güven Incirlioglu, Hakan Topal, and Mahir Yavuz).

Author of “Historiographic Perversion” and “Writers of Disaster” Professor Nichanian’s philosophical meditations will probe into the notion of imag(e)ing an event that deals with the death of the witness. Does the event of murdering the witness have a picture, any picture? If yes, is the picture the same as the event? If not, then what is an event that does not have a visual manifestation? Could the erasure of the witness and the erasure of the picture be the same? Is humanity then present only where there is a picture of the witness? Could this be a Christian phenomenon?

For more information on “Blind Dates” and upcoming Pratt Manhattan Gallery exhibitions, please call 212-647-7778, email [email protected], or visit Add Pratt Manhattan Gallery on Facebook by searching “Pratt Manhattan Gallery” and follow Pratt Exhibitions on Twitter at “PrattGallery.”

Corporate supporters of the Blind Dates Project include Law Office of Souren A. Israelyan; Millyard Imaging and Matt McEnteggart/White Box Builders; Raffi Momjian P.C.; and Richard Tenguerian Architectural Models. Individual patrons include Ken Darian; Mimi Brown Ercil; Tunç Iyriboz; Sylvia Minassian; Roswitha and Fred Loeffler; Shant Mardirossian; Kaan Nazli; Seda Sahakian; Ani Totah; and others who wish to remain anonymous. Additional project supporters include AICA-Armenia; ALWAN for the Arts; Arts in the One World; Blind Dates Friends & Global Advisory Council; Dorothy and Joseph Reilly Fund; Hrant Dink Memorial Workshop; Mirak Family Foundation; Mondriaan Foundation; and UTA Turkish Studies.

Blind Dates Project fiscal sponsors include the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (2006-2008) and New York Foundation for the Arts (2009-present).

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