24 Unusual Ways to Commemorate Genocide Centennial


The 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is upon us, marked by a myriad of big-name initiatives and events put on by governments and official organizations. However, for many Armenians the Centennial is not just a show of strength and national solidarity, but also a deeply personal milestone. We’ve put together an overview of some of the most unusual and sometimes quirky ways in which ordinary people have chosen to commemorate the Centennial the world over.

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1. A monumental painting

1. A monumental painting
To celebrate the strength, history and cultural vitality of the Armenian people.
Who: Jackie Kazarian, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Duke University, who lives and works in Chicago.
Where: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Why:  On the 100th anniversary of the first major genocide of the 20th century, Chicago-based artist Jackie Kazarian has created a painting of monumental scale to commemorate the victims and survivors of 1915, to honor the strength and resilience of the Armenian people and to inspire others to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
Learn more: project1915.org

2. Climbing Mount Everest

2. Climbing Mount Everest
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Ara Khatchadourian will start the ascent of Everest in the colors of "Running For The Memory" – as both a sporting exploit and a universal message of memory and peace. 
Who: Ara Khatchadourian supported by "Run For The Memory"
Where: The Himalayas 
Why: He takes with him on top of the world the names of all those who have helped accomplish this feat and all those associated with this symbolic act of remembrance and peace.

3. Posting images for 100 days

3. Posting images for 100 days
The idea of the 100 Years, 100 Images project is to post an image every day for 100 days, from January 15 to April 24, 2015 when Armenians around the world will commemorate the centennial of the Genocide of 1915.
Who: Martin Vaneskeheian, born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Why: To share a small part of a great spiritual and material treasure, which is still largely buried, lost, waiting to be rediscovered. A treasure not just limited to the visual arts, but a comprehensive civilizational legacy for all mankind, that is systematically erased, denied and made invisible in today’s world.

4. A music video on YouTube

4. A music video on YouTube
The song is titled “1915” and the music video tell the Vaneske family story of surviving the Armenian Genocide. 
Who: Bren Vaneske, Argentinian singer
Where: Argentina
Why: An homage to all the victims of the Armenian Genocide composed in memory of Bren’s grandmothers who were Genocide survivors and the million and a half victims who were massacred. 

5. A year-long series about Armenia

5.  A year-long series about Armenia
Starting April 24th, 2014 – 99 years on – The 100 Years, 100 Facts Project began publishing facts two times a week. The number of facts will grow until the 100th and final fact of this collection is published on April 24th, 2015, to mark the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
Who: Lena C. Adishian as Project Lead in Los Angeles and Nareg Seferian as Researcher & Writer in Yerevan.
Where: Armenia and United States
Why: To celebrate survival, to never forget, to be smart by learning and sharing, to get people involved with Armenia and to make a meaningful contribution to the global Armenian community. 

6. Riding motorcycles

6. Riding motorcycles
To raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide the Hye Riders will ride from France to Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Georgia and will be in Armenia for the Centennial.
Who: The “Hye Riders” are a group of Los Angeles-based Armenian men who love to ride their motorcycles. They organize events, ride their bikes, and live proudly as Armenians.
Where: Armenia, Europe, United States
Why: To honor those who were forced to march to their death or to places unknown.

7. Walking 1,000 kilometers

7. Walking 1,000 kilometers
Father and daughter will walk 1,000 kilometers to trace the route their forefathers took 100 years ago during the Great Genocide of the Armenians in 1915.
Who: Vartan Melkonian, a composer and conductor of classical music, and his daughter Veronica-Haiganoush, a university student in the UK.
Where: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon
Why: In memory of all those who died during the Great Massacre of the Armenians in 1915.

8. Creating an app for iOS

8. Creating an app for iOS
The Armenian Genocide app is a reference tool to raise awareness and teach about the first genocide of the 20th century.
Who: Vatche Sahakian, dopplerthepom.com
Where: iTunes store
Why: With maps, a detailed timeline, quotes, survivor accounts, historic dispatches and news reports, the app provides an immersive experience of one of the most important human rights issues of history.

9. A public art installation

9. A public art installation
A temporary public art installation on three levels at the Music Center and Grand Park. The iwitness installation consists of an interconnected network of towering asymmetrical photographic sculptures wrapped with massive portraits of eyewitness survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The sculptures have no right angles and their irregular angular shapes speak to an unbalanced world, continually at risk of war, ethnic cleansing and genocide—crimes against humanity that the Genocide survivors have witnessed with their own eyes.
Who: artists Ara Oshagan, Levon Parian and architect Vahagn Thomasian
Where: Los Angeles, California, United States
Why: iwitness is a temporary memorial to the Armenian Genocide centennial commemorated this April by Armenians worldwide. The installation pays homage to these resilient, courageous and industrious men and women who, against all odds, survived the Turkish government’s systematic attempt to annihilate them. 
Learn more: iwitness1915.org

10. Staging a silent protest

10. Staging a silent protest
Young people participating in the demonstration tied their mouths with red ribbons, thus honoring the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims and raising people’s awareness about what happened 100 years ago. Another group of participants handed out flyers about the Armenian Genocide to passers-by, as well as to tourists who expressed interest in the issue.
Who: Union of Armenian Youth of South America
Where: the Armenian Genocide square in Montevideo, Uruguay 
Why: To show that despite attempts to silence them, people continue to demand recognition, condemnation and justice. 

11. Armenian flag flashmob

11. Armenian flag flashmob
A 100-meter-long Armenian tricolor flag, symbolizing the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, is being waved in different parts of Armenia and Artsakh and in the Armenian Diaspora, after which will be placed on top of Mount Ararat in April.
Who: “Tigran Mets” Charitable Foundation
Where: worldwide
Why: The goal of the actions is to consolidate the Armenian communities of the Diaspora and demand recognition and condemnation by making the voices of Armenians heard in countries not having recognized the Armenian Genocide.

12. A one-act play

12. A one-act play
A student drew inspiration from the experiences of her family and other Armenian families to write "Found," a one-act play about the Armenian genocide, which observes its 100th anniversary this year.
Who: Anoush Baghdassarian, student at Claremont McKenna College
Where: Claremont, California, United States
Why: To raise awareness about the Genocide.

Giving a voice to the voiceless from Claremont McKenna College on Vimeo.

13. A dance flash mob

13. A dance flash mob
Armenian youth gathered to dance in one of Lebanon’s public squares. 
Who: Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon
Where: Beirut, Lebanon
Why: In honor of the Armenian Genocide centennial.

14. Commemoration events in Istanbul

14. Commemoration events in Istanbul
To mark the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Project 2015 is organizing a series of commemorative events in Istanbul between April 22 – 24, 2015. Armenians from around the globe are called upon to assemble together with citizens of Turkey in Istanbul to participate in these memorial events.
Who: Project 2015, a US-based non-profit group and DurDe, a leading Turkish human rights organization
Where: Istanbul, Turkey
Why: We are coming together in Istanbul to assert our presence in and our continued connection to the land of our ancestors a century after their disastrous expulsion. We see this journey as a means of standing for our rights, advocating for justice for our forebears, and pressing for equality for all people in Turkey, whatever their ethnicity, religious affiliation, or maternal tongue.

15. Audiovisual documentaries

15. Audiovisual documentaries
A series of short documentaries (about five minutes each) telling the stories of survivors with subtitles in different languages, engaging the viewers in Latin America and worldwide. 
Who: Facundo Cantelmi
Where: Armenia and Argentina
Why: It is not simply about the Genocide, it's about the people.  

16. Putting on a play

16. Putting on a play
A play with beautiful costumes and music based on the novel "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh" by Franz Werfel. 
Who: Hans-Werner Kroesinger (director)
Where: Germany
Why: The production tells the story of the residents of Musa Dagh bravely resisting the attacks of the Young Turks.

17. A circle dance ceremony

17. A circle dance ceremony
Students joining hands to perform a series of traditional, and at times emotional Armenian dances.
Who: Armenian, Kurdish, Greek, Assyrian and Turkish students at SOAS, University of London
Where: London, UK
Why: Danicng students and activists formed a “circle of life” to mark 100th anniversary of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide. 

18. Electronic billboards

18. Electronic billboards
Beginning in January 2015 through the end of the year, large multimedia billboards with images and messages will be displayed in several American cities.
Who: Peace of Art, Inc. 
Where: United States
Why: To pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide as well as all other genocides since then.
Learn more: PeaceofArt.org

19. A period drama

19. A period drama
The “Armenia, My Country, My Mother, My Love” film, set in 1915, follows a family on a treacherous death march carried out by Turkish soldiers.
Who: Diana Angelson (director) 
Where: International release
Why: The film is based on stories from survivors of the Genocide. 

20. Touring Western Armenia

20. Touring Western Armenia
A series of trips led by scholars and activists. 
Who: Khatchig Mouradian and George Aghjayan
Where: Turkey
Why: The journeys provide ample opportunities to meet and interact with local communities, including Islamized Armenians. The hope is that through awareness, the local communities can gain greater appreciation for the Armenian presence in Western Armenia and the cultural significance of both the structures and people that remain there. 

21. Donating blood

21. Donating blood
The "Blood For Memory: Give A Drop Of Life" campaign mobilizes communities worldwide to give the gift of life through blood donations.
Who: Commission of Armenian associations and foundations for the commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
Where: Worldwide 
Why: To honor and remember victims of Genocide and crimes against humanity. 
Learn more: bloodformemory.org

22. Building houses

22. Building houses
One hundred houses will be built or renovated before December 2015. The project, called “Honoring 100 Years by Saving 100 Families,” will be driven by charitable contributions to give low-income and homeless families a safe and decent home, while emphasizing the importance of families remaining in Armenia on a permanent basis.
Who: The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia (FCHA)
Where: Armenia
Why: In Honor of the Genocide Centennial.

23. Embroidering pillows

23. Embroidering pillows
The organizers selected lines or sayings about the lives and careers of 100 renowned victims of the Armenian Genocide and embroidered them on 100 pillows. The first pillow made through the "100 Pillows for 100 Intellectuals" initiative has already been presented to the Komitas Museum-Institute.The rest of the pillows will be handed to outstanding Armenian artists, entrepreneurs and literary figures. The project is supported by the Ministry of DIaspora of the Republic of Armenia.
Who: Mr. and Mrs. Zaven Vardanyan and Arpine Poghosyan
Where: Armenia
Why: As a sign of the continuation of life and to show that the Armenians rise like the phoenix.

24. A Film, A Book, Billboards and Banners

24. A Film, A Book, Billboards and Banners
The film “The Life We Never Lived” tells two stories of a family: a real one and one that could have happened but didn't because of the Genocide. The project also features a book about Vartapet Komitas as well as billboards on the streets of Moscow and web banners. 
Who: Armenia Futura
Where: Moscow, Russia
Why: ArmeniaFutura’s mission the support and promotion of cultural, educational and social initiatives aimed that the development of the Armenian cultural heritage and the laying of the foundation for a modern and progressive society. ArmeniaFutura is a platform for the realization of patriotism, humanism and social responsibility for the sake of peace and prosperity.
Learn more: armeniafutura.com

The life we never lived from ArmeniaFutura on Vimeo.

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