Creating a Culture

Despite coinciding with unexpected political events, the debut Armenia Art Fair was a surprising success. In the aftermath of mass protests across the country, and the election of a new Prime Minister, the four-day event that ran from 11th to 14th May 2018 attracted more than 2,000 visitors and galleries from across Europe and the Middle East. In several months, Yerevan will host the fair’s second edition.


Cover photo: Araz Farra "Armenian Diaspora" film




The establishment of an international art fair in Armenia is an important development in raising the country’s profile on the world art market. Art fairs attract artists, curators, dealers and buyers from around the globe, and offer an alternative exhibition space to traditional venues such as museums and galleries. They give visitors an enjoyable opportunity to discover and buy new artworks, and provide a space to get involved in discussion and debate about contemporary art.

Preparations for the first Armenia Art Fair in May 2018 coincided with the dramatic political changes that swept through the country in the Velvet Revolution. The modern, active Armenian society found its reflection in the art fair, which attracted attention and more than 2,000 visitors during the four days of the exhibition, whose opening night was attended by President Armen Sarkissian. Art and galleries from across the region as well as Russia, the U.K. and the Middle East were represented.

The challenge now is to build on this success in 2019 so that Armenia can gradually take its place alongside such well-known counterparts such as Istanbul and Dubai as an important venue for showcasing contemporary art. In this way, Armenia raises its international profile while also promoting the unique style and culture of the country.


Oleg Kostyuchenko "Approaching zero-3"

Oleg Kostyuchenko "Approaching zero-3"


Looking to the future

Unlike many international art fairs – where booths can cost thousands of dollars – Armenia Art Fair offers young and emerging galleries and curators the chance to gain visibility. “With affordable prices for representation, Armenia Art Fair is attractive to midsize galleries that are often squeezed out by big and expensive events in other cities,” said Zara Ouzounian-Halpin, the fair’s co-founder. “It also aims to make contemporary art affordable for buyers who may be new to collecting.”

This approach helps to give access to fresh young exhibitors. The first edition, for example, included Antonina Seryakova’s “Belarus Inside” project, "Perpetual Movement", an exhibition curated by British-Armenian curator Lizzy Vartanian Collier that consisted of artworks from 7 young Arab women artists, and presentations by the 7th Contemporary Art Fair (St. Petersburg), an independent, nomadic group of artists from Russia.



The Armenia Art Fair is committed to building links with related institutions and cultural organizations to broaden the event’s cultural impact. ``Through support from various sponsors, it aims to engage the widest possible public audience to increase engagement with contemporary art and encourage the growth of the creative economy in Armenia,’’ said the fair’s co-founder Nina Festekjian, who is based in Boston in the U.S. “The fair also encourages good-will projects to promote community education and outreach.”

The art fair hosts a program of roundtable debates and workshops during the exhibition. In addition, it runs a blog featuring guest columnists throughout the year on its website that helps to spread its influence and offers a space for dialogue and discovery of new perspectives.


Narnur  - graffity



Looking toward 2019, the Armenia Art Fair will expand in both size and geographical scope. It will feature increased representation from the European Union’s Eastern Partnership countries (which includes Armenia) and present a new program examining the growing relationship between art and technology. In our technological world, even classical art exhibitions include new media that change how audiences interact with artworks.

The Art and Technology section will stress the impact of new technologies in the cultural and creative sectors, as part of the fair’s commitment to encourage innovation in art production. Organizers are already in talks about a workshop by a prominent Polish visual artist who works at the intersection of engineering, art and science using a range of technologies from paper construction to artificial life-management systems. “The theme is particularly appropriate for the fair since Armenia has such a strong tradition of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as well as a thriving modern computing and IT sector,” Ouzounian-Halpin said.


Siarhei Hudzilin "New Olympia" - festival

Siarhei Hudzilin "New Olympia"


This year, too, the Armenia Art Fair will extend its social outreach. We are pairing Intra, a local health facility, with an artist in a project to highlight and underscore the role of art in mental health. Results of the workshop and public awareness of mental health issues will be presented in an artistic format at the fair.

The 2019 fair will also include a greater range of vendors and an expanded area for children’s activities in conjunction with Children’s Day, June 2. A food court area will include offerings by local restaurants.

Finally, Armenia Art Fair ( will expand its “footprint” in Yerevan through its Art Week, an extended program of cultural events around the city that will present more local and international artists and run alongside the main exhibition.

“The Armenia Art Fair 2019 is shaping up to be another important step in raising Armenia’s profile as an emerging center for international contemporary art,” Festekjian said. “It’s another great opportunity to promote the new Armenia and benefit Yerevan’s economy through increased revenues from international visitors to the fair, who may also wish to discover what else the country has to offer. ”