Monday, February 19, 2007


It's official: Sksel-a.

Sksel-a means "it has begun" in Armenian, and we used this as our phrase in advertising for Barekendan and every "action" we plan on organizing from here on out because, quite frankly, it has. And what a better way to start things than with a lot of energy, a lot of color, a LOT of noise, and a lot of young people. Anyone who has been here will acknowledge that this alone is a huge feat in Armenia.

What were our goals? Many. As Barekendan/carnival as a tradition stands as a platform for being theatrical, for being over the top, for breaking expectations and for laughing at ourselves and questioning social constructs, it was the perfect opportunity to bring up issues in our young civil society's collective mind. Tongue-in-cheek posters like "El Che'" ("el che" in Armenian meaning "no more") or "Keech Gerek" ("eat less" alludes to the colloquial use of the word "eating money" in reference to corruption) were meant both to make people laugh and make them think. Chanting "wake up!", blowing on hundreds of whistles and passing out alarm clocks were a call the public to action, to shake them out of their slumber. Alarm clocks were passed out to passers-by each with a small piece of paper asking a single inquisitive question of the recipient ("are you ready?" "how long will it be this way?" "where is your voice?" "aren't you concerned?"). Using the phrase "yegek tser yegh ou brinzin der ganknek," from Tumanyan's famous Barekendan folk-tale about the foolish man and wife who were duped by the sneaky theif, encourages the public to take ownership of their country- of their future- lest they share the same fate as Tumanyan's characters.

Passerbys may have been confused, and some participants may have missed the deeper meanings, but it was a sight, a spectacle and it made people smile, and what is more, we hope it made people think. Thus, I consider the day a tremendous success. Out of the tumult of amorphous, uninhibited energy is often where large innovative changes begin.

Other comments and photos about the event:

"As for the Barekentan event itself, few important things need to be said: Ancient festivals are, before anything, a ritual — just like elections in ancient Athens were a ritual… They don’t have a meaning in themselves unless you invest that meaning yourself. The same goes for political life, political conciousness and politicization.

Every such event and every alarm clock handed out is a seed of liberty. And very often that seed will land on rocks. Other times it will land on soil and maybe (given the right type of atmosphere and provided that it is not stamped out at an early age) it will grow into a tree … but rarely.

Every such ritual, every such event is a step forward in cultivating a vibrant political culture, but they must be backed by action! Yes, action. A prior type of activity by the people in their everyday life, that generates a type of conciousness that when an alarm clock is handed out it spartks a thought. Conciousness is not the same as idea. "

More here
and here

1 comment:

Dylan said...

Impressive. sounds great. good job