Haig Aivazian

Not Every Day is Spring, 2016
Regroupement Pied Carré, #406

Haig Aivazian’s work investigates the relationship between ideologies and life. Taking historical events as points of departure, the artist looks for lesser-known parallel stories from which he builds textured narratives about systems of power and their far-reaching influence.

Begun in 2014, Hastayim Yasiyorum (I am Sick but I am Alive) is a large project that includes sculpture, drawing, performance and video. Here, the artist delves into the history of modal structure in classical and modern Turkish music in general, and the Turkish-Armenian oud master Udi Hrant Kenkulian (1901-1978) in particular. This narrative is historically framed by the demise of the Ottoman Empire, and the ensuing rise of nationalism and drive towards modernity.

Inspired by the traditional form of the oud, Aivazian’s wood and metal sculptures, such as Bridge, are silenced instruments reflecting on the migratory patterns of the Armenian experience. Recognizable shapes and materials are deliberately used, allowing for the association with the particular musical context to occur.  But their precarious balance is a reminder of the troubled histories behind the music.

The new film Not Every Day is Spring is a component of the Hastayim Yasiyorum project. Conceived as a journey through the sites of music production and dissemination in Istanbul, and guided by Kenkulian’s songs, the film features intimate encounters with an unusual cast of musical characters. A parallel storyline follows the trajectory of marble slabs from an Armenian cemetery that once occupied the Taksim and Gezi areas in Instanbul’s centre to their current location. Connecting the present-day city with the movement of people and music, the film becomes a poetic journey resonating with the ghosts of the past.