On Sunday, October 11, 15 performers gathered in downtown Los Angeles donning white robes with pictures of rifles printed on them. The stark visible was recorded by onlookers and the group itself, in order that it may seem on the screens of individuals world wide amidst the pandemic.
The efficiency artwork piece, “The Rifles Our Ancestors Didn’t Have,” was organized by She Loves Collective, which was based in 2017 and is, in their very own phrases, “an alliance of female artists who share a strong belief in the power of creating social change through art.” Co-founded by Adrineh Baghdassarian and Nelly Achkhen Sarkissian, She Loves Collective selected the efficiency to mirror on the struggle within the Armenian-populated Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (aka Artsakh), the place Azerbaijani army, with the assistance of Turkey and Syrian Islamist fighters, ignited a persevering with struggle after a September 27 assault. The lives of tens of 1000’s of individuals are being threatened every day by the combat. Hyperallergic beforehand reported concerning the menace the struggle poses on the archaeological heritage of the area, which incorporates vital historical and early Christian websites.
The efficiency was designed to boost consciousness of the struggle, which, in lower than three weeks, has already claimed over 1,000 lives, although the toll could also be a lot larger than is at the moment identified. Los Angeles is dwelling to one of many largest Armenian communities on the earth.
Armenians see the brand new struggle as a continuation of the Armenian Genocide and are involved on the lack of media protection. Communities have taken to the streets to protest in cities round the world, blockading highways, demanding protection in entrance of community tv studios, and different actions — one in every of which I participated on this previous weekend.
“We hope to engage the global community, which has remained mostly silent about these blatant attacks, particularly the United States,” Baghdassarian defined.
While some could also be shocked on the imagery, there may be a lengthy historical past of Armenian girls as defenders of their communities, notably through the Armenian Genocide when Ottoman authorities conscripted Armenian males to virtually sure dying, and girls and kids have been left to fend for themselves. During the identical interval, all weapons have been confiscated from Armenians by Ottoman authorities.
At the efficiency this week, girls wore jewellery, created by She Loves members Taline Olmessekian and Anaeis Ohanian, to evoke the imagery of gladiators and warriors. The picture of the rifle, in accordance with the group, is symbolic of self-defense and self-determination. The group additionally introduced small carpets made in Armenia and Artsakh, which symbolize not solely their heritage, however the “patterns” of generational trauma, in accordance with the group, handed down via the years.
The efficiency comes throughout a interval when the escalation of hostilities has brought on world concern. This week, throughout a panel hosted by the Harvard Law Students Association, David L. Phillips, who’s the director of Peace-Building and Human Rights Program at Columbia University, warned, “We are on the verge of another Armenian Genocide.” Today, the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris marketing campaign launched a assertion asserting that they, if elected, will formally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and search peace in Artsakh. While there may be hesitation amongst Armenians to take the assertion at face worth — as US politicians have, for a long time, made related assurances to Armenian Americans — it comes at a time when President Trump continues to stay silent on each points. Today, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a assertion to WBS radio in Atlanta that implies the US doesn’t plan to do something. “We’re hopeful that the Armenians will be able to defend against what the Azerbaijanis are doing,” he mentioned.
“Rifles Our Ancestors Didn’t Have” occurred at Grand Park, the Broad Museum, and LA City Hall, all in downtown Los Angeles, and the group says it is going to be the primary motion of an ongoing mission.