In this symbolic year 2015, on the occasion of the one hundredth commemoration of the
Armenian Genocide, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia has dedicated its
pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia to the artists of the
Armenian diaspora. It will be located at the Mekhitarist Monastery on the island of San
Lazzaro degli Armeni.
The curatorial concept of Armenity implies the notion of displacement and territory, justice
and reconciliation, ethos and resilience. Regardless of their place of birth, the selected artists
carry within their identity the memory of their origins. Through their talent and willpower, these
grandchildren of survivors of the Armenian Genocide—the first genocide of the 20th Century—
rebuilt a “transnational assembly” from the remnants of a shattered identit y. Their ingrained
concern for memory, justice and reconciliation skillfully transcends notions of territory,
borders and geography. Whether they were born in Beirut, Lyon, Los Angeles, or Cairo and
wherever they may reside, these global citizens constantly question and reinvent their armenity.
Armenity is being held in a setting of special significance for the Armenian diaspora. It was
on the Island of San Lazzaro, located between San Marco and the Lido and facing the Giardini
of the Biennale, that in 1717 the Armenian monk Mekhitar established the Mekhitarist Order. It
was here that in the early 19th century Lord Byron studied the Armenian language. Many
important works of European literature and religious texts were first translated into Armenian on
this scenic island. Over its three-hundred years history the Monastery of San Lazzaro with its
gardens, former print shop, cloisters, museum and library, has helped to preserve Armenia’s
unique cultural heritage, much of which might otherwise have been lost.