Keeping Armenian Culture Alive: Interview with Jean Boghossian
By Bansie Vasvani
Behind a nondescript wooden door, the sprawling grounds of Palazzo Zenobio overlook the anabranch of Venice’s Canale Grande. Originally constructed in a baroque style by the Zenobio family in 1690, the Palazzo later became the home of the College of the Mekhitarist Armenian monks of St. Lazzaro in 1850, and has since been a bastion of education for Armenians residing in Italy. This storied institution, with its grand ballroom known as the Hall of Mirrors, and painted scenes depicting the mythological life of Queen Zenobia from the 3rd century, couldn’t have offered a better setting for the Armenian Pavilion in the 57th Venice Biennale. 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide, and was also the year when Armenia won the Golden Lion Award for the best national pavilion in Venice. On the heels of such acclaim, Jean Boghossian, whose 15-room exhibition curated by Bruno Cora in the Palazzo showed works made mostly with a blowtorch, as well as a few paintings displayed at the Armenian church of Santa Croce degli Armeni in Venice, is the most significant of the three artists chosen to represent Armenia this year. Boghossian’s work continues a dialogue on what is referred to as “collective identity” in the catalog for the 2015 Armenian Pavilion.