A few days ago, the "Cultural and Social Narratives Laboratory" (CSN Lab) held a presentation of the "tghamard" photo series and its thematic website. This initiative examines the gender identity of men in the Armenian context.

Within the "tegh-tegh" mobility project, a dedicated exploration of the complex past and decentralised study of Soviet legacy, curator Diana Sardaryan and artist Ruslan Nasir delved into the intersection of gender and colonialism. Their focus extended to questioning the imposed roles for men in the Armenian context, exploring the forced reproduction of economic life, and navigating the pressures of militarization in the post-war reality. The "tghamard" project explores the multi-layered nature of man, delving into hidden complexities to disclose silenced elements essential for understanding masculinity. The artists aim to expose the thoughts, emotions, and worries of men often overshadowed by traditional roles like "pillar of the house", "head of the house", "protector", "leader", "soldier", and "hero of the motherland".

Portraying a man absent from mainstream cultural representations, excluded from advertising posters, and nonconforming from stereotypical and colonial perspectives, this initiative seeks to question the roles posed to men through the medium of art. The man depicted in the photos is neither a hero, nor a representative of patriarchy, nor a model of masculinity, but simply someone whose image is familiar. The man is the migrant, the bearer of the heavy burden of social hardships, the one who disagrees with the roles dictated to him but tries to fit in, the soldier, the one who has returned from the war and is unrecognizably changed, someone who is at every turn and yet overlooked. The project's thematic focus also challenges contemporary trends that partially reinterpret gender roles, highlighting the interconnectedness and interaction of these roles.

The Vayots Dzor region, significantly affected by the post-war crisis and the attack of Azerbaijani forces in September 2022, was selected for the implementation of the “tghamard” project. The photo series blends landscape and man, showcasing their evident and subtle colours, folds, and depths, capturing both strength and vulnerability, along with traces of the past and an uncertain present.

During the presentation, curator Diana Sardaryan and artist Ruslan Nasir shared about the concept behind the "tghamard" project, providing a glimpse into their collaborative journey. The thematic website and photo series presentation was followed by a Q&A session, which addressed inquiries and challenges regarding the project, shedding light on the complex processes involved in realising the photo series, conducting fieldwork, and installing exhibits in the Vayots Dzor region.

The discussion was succeeded by the screening of Harut Shatyan's "Loading My Life" (2011) film, exploring male gender roles, stereotypes, and societal restrictions.

Tegh-tegh is carried out by the “Cultural and Social Narratives Laboratory” (CSN Lab) with the support of the "Danish Cultural Institute" (DCI) within the framework of the "New Democracy Fund" (NDF) project.

photos: Narek Dallakyan (c)