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Survival Kit. Subtle Abstraction

Arrieregarde - Archi Galentz Searches for 21st Century Aesthetics

In 1995 Archi Galentz bought the first painting for his collection whish had been expanding and can now be seen at InteriorDAsein Berlin counting more than 50 small- to middle-size pieces of some 30 artists developed mainly in post-Soviet period. The core of this collection is based on artists of Armenian descent coming from the avantguardistic tradition that after immigration in 90s developed a new aesthetics of concentrated and subtle abstractions. This phenomenon hasn't still been examined with scholars though artists living in such different parts of the globe as Los Angeles, Sweden, France, Russia, Berlin and Armenia simulatneously made art that belongs to the same landscape overcoming the traditional understanding of abstraction as a gesture of liberation. This collection consists of painting, prints, objects, and photography. The interest is not ethnographic but aesthetic, and the collection is enriched by pieces of some German, Japanise and  Macedonian artists. It has been exposed in numerous exhibition projects in museums of contemporary art in Scopje/Macedonia, Belgrade/Serbia, and Helsinki/Finland. At the same time, the question of an art museum as a temple, a huge white cube has been examined as a relevant context for descrete authentic statements.This collection is also characterized by the individual approach each work has received as each piece has been individually framed by Archi Galentz stressing the importance of a lasting dialogue.

See examples of works: HERE.

Bedroom Wall, Berlin 2003

Please see the catalogue statement "Another one,  a "personal" survival kit" from the "Situated Self. Confused, compassionate and Conflictual" catalogue below.

"Not on earth and not in heaven", MOCA, Scopje, Macedonia, 2004

The group show MOCA in Scopje was organized by a Berlin-based Macedonian artist Jovan Balov who invited Berlin-based artists of different descent. That was my first exhibition in a museum space. I (Archi Galentz) stood for a question whether I produce special works that go well in the space or look for alternatives. Instead I decided to put my works together with a number of fellow artists I already had i my collection or borrowed for the exposition. I also built a piece of private-looking wall and installed it in a museum space comparing different contexts of the exposition.


"Situated Self. Confused, compassionate and Conflictual", MoCA Belgrade and Tennis Palace Art Museum, 2005

Belgrade, 2005

My statement for the catalog for the Scopje exhibition was not printed because of lack of space. And next year Mika Hannula who knew about my project, invited me to participate in his co-curated who that was basically constructed as a dialogue between Scandinavian and Balkan artists. For the group shows in MOCA, Belgrade and Tennis Palace Art Museum in Helsinki I exposed my collection in dense set hung much higher than it is usually done in museums, painting the outlines of my bed ("hochbed" in German) under the collection. Again placing the tense private relation context in a public space


In the work of Archi Galentz it is the tragic plight of the Armenian nation which is evoked and which has very often been perceived as one of the thresholds of empathy. How can one imagine oneself in the midst of genocide? How does one relate nowadays to the evident lack of interest in the outcomes of the Armenian tragedy, as opposed to more general public duties of feeling for what happened to Jews in WW2 or to Kosovo Albanians more recently? There is no way to compare, measure or verify that one and the same emotion applies to all historical examples of genocide, or the experience of exile as the platform for recollection/reflection: today almost three quarters of Armenians live outside their historical territories. Archi Galentz collects works by Armenian artists in his small Berlin apartment. Yet, it is not an ethnographic collection as one may be lead to assume, it is an art collection, maybe not one that fits established contemporary aesthetic standards (although no one would dare to identify something like that now), but certainly one that shows some private act of being-with. Galentz´s famous historical compatriot, Arshile Gorky, avoided the word 'influence' when he wanted to describe the effect that different 'sources' have on his work, and which may range from 'the lacework of Khatchkar' to heroes of Modern art. Instead he spoke of 'being with' someone, dead or alive, Thoros Roslin or Pablo Picasso: the notion of 'being with' indicates a complex process of mutual 'impregnating' of the self and the other. Galentz shows his collection in art institutions, together with other markers of his private space, such as a bed or a door. It is no longer his 'art', the product of his 'encumbered' self, which is on display, but the setting of his 'situated self'. It is a situation in which certain things develop a special meaning for him and relate to his own mental states. But the 'thingness' of works exhibited in his private space, their 'not-I' presence, does not illustrate some identity-craving: 'who I am' is less important then where I am standing.

By Branislav Dimitrijevich. 2005


An extract from Attentive observations, situated motivations and displaced inquiries. Situated Self Exhibition catalogue text, ISBN 86-7101-222-0.