For two weeks in late summer 2018, Swiss art students travelled to Armenia. There they met with a group of young artists from Yerevan and together they went to Chambarak, a small town in the periphery of the country, in the province of Gegharkunik, home of about 5800 inhabitants.
Chambarak has experienced since the early 1990s in connection with the war over Karabakh large population changes: members of Christian community of the Molokans were evicted, and in the forced relocations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, about half of the families today came to be new in Chambarak, some of them coming with their own cultural traditions. Until today, a large part of the male population works as a labor force in Russia, so that the everyday life of Chambarak is maintained mainly by the women.
Chambarak is not affected by direct hostilities in the continuing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but it is suffering from the consequent emigration, structural weakness and stagnation – as well as the entire border region.
The twenty-eight participants stayed there, allocated to twelve host families, and used an art school for children, that was empty due to the summer holiday, as a temporary workshop. The young artists worked in different constellations, explored various local practices (from gathering herbs to embroidery), while getting to know the town and its inhabitants. Curious children were invited to playful art workshops, the community shepherd was accompanied, an ephemeral monument was created in honor of the new female box champion of Armenia (a teenage girl from Chambarak), a joint wall painting was created, an exhibition with drawings, videos and performative walking-tour was organized... Another highlight was a concert by Yerevan's newcomer all-female band Tiezerk. The artistic projects in Chambarak followed mainly an experimental, collaborative and process based approach, whereby the role of foreign artists in such a town was continuously reflected.