Blind Dates: New Encounters from the Edges of a Former Empire

Blind Dates: New Encounters from the Edges of a Former Empire

Pratt Manhattan Gallery

November 11, 2010

November 19, 2010 – February 12, 2011

Thursday, November 18, 6-8 PM
With a performance of AH-HA by Nina Katchadourian and Ahmet Öğüt
Free and open to the public

Pratt Manhattan Gallery
144 West 14th Street, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10011
Tuesday-Saturday 11-6, closed December 23-January 3.

Blind Dates tackles with the traces or ‘what remains’ of the peoples, places and cultures that once constituted the diverse geography of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922). Taking the breakup of the latter’s complex history as a point of departure, and considering the subsequent formation of nation states throughout the region, the exhibition explores the effects of various forms of ruptures, gaps, erasures as well as (re)constructions, including continuities within discontinuities, through the prism of contemporary lived-experiences.

At the heart of this group exhibition are thirteen new collaborative artistic projects that bring together an international roster of established and emerging artists, and other practitioners from Armenia, Bosnia, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, with their transnational counterparts in Europe and the United States. Produced especially for this curatorial undertaking, these research-based projects explore attachments to images, voices and histories, which collide with existing taxonomies of nation-states, art histories and identities. On view is a cluster of sensibilities that nest at the verge of remembering and forgetting, truth and fiction, real and imaginary.

Envisioned as an ongoing project open to reformulation and with plans to migrate internationally, the Blind Dates Project extends a rare platform for artists and cultural producers from the former Ottoman region. By pairing artists, and sometimes non-artists, for a series of private/informal discussions project co-curators Defne Ayas and Neery Melkonian have been ‘matchmaking’ to mediate encounters between distanced neighbors and their estranged cultures. To date, Blind Dates encounters took place in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Sharjah, Yerevan, Van and Venice. As a prelude to the exhibition, a series of Blind Dates dinners, workshops and panels have also been taking place, bringing together artists and practitioners from various disciplines interested in deconstructing master narratives not only to inform the exhibition but also to consider ‘new ways of seeing’ contentious historical accounts/events and their lingering effect on life today.

Roundtable Discussion: From Rupture to Rapture?
Saturday, November 20, 2-4 PM
Pratt Manhattan Gallery
Blind Dates artists and co-curators gather to reflect on the role of artistic research and collaboration in imagining new realities, friendships and politico-aesthetic agency as they relate to the post Ottoman human geography.
Moderated by Regine Basha.

Participating artists, architects, dancers, scholars and cultural producers are:
Silva Ajemian and Aslihan Demirtaş / Karen Andreassian with Citizen
Walker Sergey / Hrayr Anmahouni Eulmessekian with sound scholar Anahid
Kassabian / Michael Blum and Damir Nikšić / Jean Marie Casbarian with
historian Nazan Maksudyan / Özge Ersoy with Taline Toutounjian / Linda
Ganjian and Elif Uras / Aram Jibilian with Aaron Mattocks as Arshile
Gorky’s ghost / Nina Katchadourian and Ahmet Öğüt / Karine Matsakian
and Sona Abgarian / Stefanos Tsivopoulos with dancers Ursula Eagly,
Carlos Fittante & Christopher Williams / Jalal Toufic with Selim S.
Kuru as Ottoman translator / xurban_collective

For information, call 212-647-7778 or e-mail exhibits [​at​]

Special thanks to AICA-Armenia; ALWAN for the Arts; Arts in the One World; Blind Dates Global Council & Friends; Hrant Dink Memorial Workshop; Mirak Family Foundation; Mondriaan Foundation, Dorothy and Joseph Reilly Fund, Sharjah Foundation with ArteEast, and UTA Turkish Studies. Corporate supporters: Millyard Imaging & Matt McEnteggart/White Box Builders; Law Office of A. Souren Israelyan; Raffi Momjian P.C., and Richard Tenguerian Architectural Models. Individual patrons include: Ken Darian; Mimi Brown Ercil, Tunç Iyriboz; Shant Mardirossian; Sylvia Minassian; Roswitha & Fred Loeffler; Kaan Nazli; Seda Sahakian; Ani Totah, and those who wish to remain anonymous.

Fiscal Sponsors: ATOP (2006-2008) and NYFA (2009-Present)

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