Tasnerku + 1

Mikayel Ohanjanyan

Tasnerku + 1 (Twelve + 1), an extended rendition of the work created for the Armenity exhibition curated by Adelina von Fürstenberg and hosted in the Armenian Pavilion, winner of the Golden Lion at the 56th Venice Biennial in 2015, is located along the east/west diagonal crossing the lawn of Ca’ Granda’s Honorary Courtyard.

Thirteen sculptures, measuring approximately 36 m in length
Twelve elements, each: 45 x 43 x 26 cm, disk 120 cm ø
Thirteenth element: 110 x 90 x 53 cm, disk 245 cm ø
Basalt, Corten steel, steel cables, 2015

Compared to Tasnerku (Twelve) presented in Venice, for his solo exhibition in Milan, Ohanjanyan has added a 13th element that is much larger in size and set outside the diagonal line formed by the twelve elements.

The thirteen basalt stones each rest on a Corten steel disk; the disks that are set out diagonally – almost like a sequence of pages – are engraved with the verses of Aravot Luso, a hymn composed by Nersēs Shnorhali, a 12th century theologian and poet and Catholic Patriarch of Armenia, whose poem invites us to contemplate Christ through nature.

Ohanjanyan’s work, on the other hand, focuses on the writing of the hymn, whose thirty-six versus all begin with a letter from the Armenian alphabet: so they are more a tribute to the unifying language of tradition than the actual content of the poem itself.

Tasnerku + 1 - Disegno - Mikayel Ohanjanyan

Whereas the 12 elements of the Tasnerku installation presented in Venice evoked the cyclic perfection associated with all cultures, the thirteen of the work designed for the courtyard of Università degli Studi di Milano, and set along an east/west diagonal, form a prime number, a sign of the unity and beginning of a new cycle.

According to musical theory, although the interval in the thirteen chord contains all the different notes, it is absolutely dissonant, symbolising a transition, a door.

Whereas the twelve elements of Tasnerku referred to the cyclic perfection so frequently symbolised in all cultures, the 13 of Tasnerku + 1 represent the eternal destruction and creation of life, transformation, further asserted by the musical reference to the chromatic octave composed of 13 different sounds that begin and end on the same note in different tones.


Change begins from one’s own roots

Tasnerku + 1’s rhythm is an echo of the 223 basalt megaliths found on the archaeological site of Karahunj (Carahunge) in southern Armenia: dating back to the sixth millennium B.C. This location probably owes its name to the words kar (stone) and hunge (sound) and would , therefore, appear to allude to “talking stones”, possibly due to the sound the wind makes as it passes through the holes in the Menhirs.

80 megaliths inside the complex have circular holes in their top section and this, as in the case with the stones at Stonehenge (from a much later date), meant that many believed it to be the world’s oldest astronomical observatory; it is actually more likely to be a huge and highly elaborate necropolis, whose holes would have the symbolic value of providing a passageway to some intangible reality.

Karahunj, particolare

Transition is another key word.
Tasnerku + 1 is, first and foremost, a sequence of doors, a reiterated invitation to move beyond matter and a synthesis of Ohanjanyan’s thoughts on aesthetics: the basalt cubes encompass every imaginable contrast – weight and lightness, emptiness and solidity, stability and precariousness – and they constitute a stylistic code, whose carefully devised signs and technical wizardry outline the artist’s own formal vision and, when ultimately, his thoughts on man in general.

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