Yerevanian cavities

24 Sep 2020

Yerevan, May, 2019

Perceptions are a concatenation of matured experiences, of prejudices, of historical research, of ideas, of illusions.

Every place we visit it's not only cover with this veil of ideas more or less elaborated that little by little wear out once we enter in contact with the forms that decorate, occupied and modifies those spaces; but places are also covered with a second, deeper, veil: every country tell us, through unconscious echoes, a story: every country, in our contemporaneity, devote itself, as if it were a marketing issue, to sell, to promote, it becomes the creator and actor of a very specific narrative, of its own propaganda.

It is not always an easy experience, neither complete, to visit a place, nor is always possible to penetrate in its intimacy.

There are limits: limits that modify those perceptions: once fluid they solidify, they blend, transmutate: we keep visiting a place not only because we like it but because it did not fool us, it seduced us, it was coherent in its vices and virtues, it stimulated us, it disarmed us.

Armenia, the sad and impoverished Armenia, for me represents, to this day, the country that has challenged this reasoning the most: I did not have any local interlocutors, the country, its cities, its messy homogeneity, represented only a scenic background that with the days revealed itself as an invading, annoying, ugly, distressing one.

The almost mythological imaginary was collapsing: carefully crafted and sponsored by the omnipresent and tidily organize diaspora appeared fake.

The county, geographically speaking, is nothing less than a corridor, the small anteroom of a world that is no longer the echo of the European civilizations openly competing with the middle eastern ones, it lies trapped and conditioned between the neo ottoman Turkey and the turkophile and turkophone Azerbaijan; Georgia – the garden of God – emerges over its slender body, and its tight feet create a funnel towards Persia. Yes, Armenia, reminds me of an anteroom, an alley with bricked windows, where tiny drops of light are filtered, an alley covered with dusty, millenarian books, instruments, mesmerizing objects, a mutilated and mistreated place.

At the border with Georgia, it is clear how this transformation takes place: young guards: flesh sticks with soviet like uniforms of a not well defined greenish/yellowish color: they look uncomfortable, arid, oppressive around other guards, much older, who appear only to exist: they doubled their bodies inside of their uniforms.

The periphery of the collapsed soviet empire: contorted roads, covered in holes, where drivers cruise at unreasonable speeds, where the striking views seem out of focus, unreachable.

I arrive in a deserted station, far from the center, lacking vitality, businesses, informal sellers, deprived of the torment so typical of many other bus stations, deprived of the chaos.

The first impression of Yerevan is the one of a silent city, silenced under the polluted air, of colorless architectures, clung onto what was left.

From the distance it is possible to admire the sacred Ararat mountain, it is also blurred and unreachable: the origin of the history of the Armenian people lies behind the borders of the Turkish enemy in Kurdish territory: Ağrı Dağı is how is called in turkish, it means Mountain of Pain.

The symbol of the magic epopee of Haik the Great has now become the reminder of absolute humiliation after the 1920 war.

This initial frame portrays deep rooted wounds and what it emerges out of it it's an Aurea of sadness, of dismay.

As the days pass I do not know how to behave: in my intimacy I nourish some adversion, and this seems reciprocated.

I feel baffled in a place where it is repeated ad nauseam the pains and traumas of the genocide but there is a lack of awareness to recognize themselves as executioners of a similar kind during the Nagorno Karabakh war.

I feel made fun of when in a Armenian restaurant I get offered Georgian foods, trying to convince me otherwise.

I feel despised: a pharmacy clerk condemmed me to hell after asking for condoms – others just kicked me out of the place - in a town few km away from Yerevan, few km away from the gigantic lake Sevan.

I feel uneasy: this constant aurea of sadness and confusion.

There is something in Yerevan that reminded me of what I disliked about Caracas where I grew up, where I first met Armenian friends, when I first learn of their pains.

I feel annoyed by how the patriotic feelings, the love towards the cultural heritage, the conservation of the treasure that survived centuries of violence have became flags of a pedantic nationalistic exaltation as fierce as is ridiculous, have became relics and not active elements toward the construction of a better future, of a position of power, of richness, important resources.

A victim that is both trapped in itself and despised by his turkish neighbors.

When I think about the Armenia of my short and intense trips, I keep thinking that there is much more but absolute nothing of what is being preached: their unsealed wounds are a push to the seas of the world hoping to substitute a chapter, a paragraph, a verse, a relevant note, in the mighty epics and ethos of human civilization to their favor, but I found a brusque narrative that pretend to appropriate, in a clumsy way, the merits of others, refusing their own, or perhaps hiding them.

I wonder if it is a desperate way to overcome trauma, a liberation from the ghosts, to achieve visibility other than the genocide, yet it feels often heavy, unnatural.

I struggle to find answers.

Armenia: once again an anteroom full of dust and gunpowder: it hides beauty underneath, and outside of it: hypnotic musics of middle eastern flavors, exquisite dances, a folklore that are seeds of beauty, paradise angles, songs and lullabies that take over the body, the soul, the mind, friendly and brilliant characters: all of this I experienced outside of Armenia!

I admit I am the only culplrit, I framed myself in front of a crust of pettiness, of arrogance covered in cellophane: a behavior that majority of people I encountered seemed to be proud of: all of this remains at the center of confusing perceptions that pushed me away, my curiosity was mismatched, out synced.

#Yerevan  #Caucasus  #Adventure