Pieter Geenen - Relocation

23:20, 2011, Video Art
Situated at the point where four countries meet (Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia), mount Ararat is Armenia’s most important national symbol, full of mythological meaning and believed to be the place where Noah’s Ark stranded. Once part of a larger Armenia, mount Ararat is now located in Turkey. Since 1920, after the Armenian genocide, it’s just behind the closed border with Turkey, still dominating the Armenian landscape. But Armenians can only gaze at it with longing.

In ’relocation’ the sun rises over the Ararat valley, with the monumental Ararat twin mountains in the back. Starting from a nearly pitch black image the landscape exposes slowly, revealing human life around the military controlled no man’s land, buffering both nations. It is the landscape as seen from Armenia, at the closest accessible point to the border with Turkey. Only, the image is mirrored. Left and right are reversed, implying the impossible view (for Armenians) of the Western side of the mountain. That’s how ’relocation’ refers to an era long gone, when historical Armenia still was one, or quite to an era Armenians wish for it to be. In this video the mountains are dislocated, as have been the Armenian people.

A dialoguing text comments on the landscape, as subtitles to a film. As if both mountains are in dialogue with each other, it is mainly a dialogue between two nations, with historical, political, biblical and utopical connotations. This text is based on testimonies and eyewitnesses from both sides of the mountain, going back to the early 20th century and referring to a turbulent era and tense relations between Turkey and Armenia.
’relocation’ reflects on how and to what extent Mount Ararat (still) defines Armenian identity. What is its iconologic value, and how does it play part in Armenian collective memory?

DirectorPieter Geenen

CountryBelgiumSubtitlesEnglishEdition2011 ScreeningsBandits-Mages Festival, Bourges (FR), 2011
dokumentART European Film Festival for Documentaries, Neubrandenburg (DE) & Szczecin (PL)
Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York (UK), 2011
EXiS Experimental Film and Video Festival, Seoul (KR), 2011
Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival, Pärnu (EE), 2011
FLUXUS International Film Festival on the Internet, SESC Pompeia, São Paulo (BR), 2011
Onion City Experimental Film Festival, Chicago (US), 2011
Media City Film Festival, Windsor (CA), 2011
Courtisane Festival, Ghent (BE), 2011
AwardsdokumentART Festival, Neubrandenburg (DE) & Szczecin (PL) - honourable mention

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