Arts and Culture in South Caucasus

Article, 12.06.2017

The focus on Arts and Culture in the South Caucasus region is of a great importance for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Rima Pipoyan
Rima Pipoyan © Sargis Virabyan

The focus on Arts and Culture in the South Caucasus region is of a great importance for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, as cultural diversity plays an essential role for the people in the region as a means of intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual satisfaction. Despite the various differences in the traditional and cultural standings of the three nations, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, the Arts and Culture program played a noticeable role in strengthening the dialog and collaboration in the South Caucasus. Faced with many technical and financial obstacles, artists in countries of the region have limited access to international markets and networks, but the picture is changing day by day.

Rima, a creator

Rima Pipoyan, 25-year-old enthusiastic dancer, choreographer from Yerevan, Armenia. Selflessly following her passion from childhood, Rima never settles.

“I knew I was going to become a professional dancer, when I first saw the “Swan Lake” ballet on the TV. I was three years old then,” says Rima with an excitement. “My parents have tried taking me to many different dancing clubs while I was a child, fortunately I liked nothing but the professional ballet,” Rima continues.

At the age of 15 Rima graduated from the State Choreographic College, and later entered the university. Yerevan State Institue for Theatre and Cinematography  is where Rima completed both her bachelor and masters studies, as well as where she starts her working career after the graduation.

Arts and Culture in South Caucasus © Sargis Virabyan
Rima Pipoyan © Sargis Virabyan

“The years of my studies were the time when my active creative life sprang up. I was cooperating with people from different spheres, with different backgrounds: actors, dancers, filmmakers or singers,” says Rima. During that period she begins writing her own plays, which were successful enough to be performed on big stages of international festivals. At the time she was already getting offers from several theaters.

In 2015 Rima started cooperating with the Regional Art and Culture Program of the Swiss Cooperation Office in South Caucasus, which promotes socio-cultural diversity and cooperation in the region through the development of contemporary art. During several festivals in Georgia and other countries Rima performed on the stage, received master classes from professional dancers around the world and gave master classes in Yerevan, Armenia.

As a result, Rima came up with an idea to create a Foundation of Choreography Development, in order to support the contemporary dance in Armenia. There are over twenty dancers who have become members of the foundation. So, Rima is not alone any more in her efforts. Today, she passionately teaches children to dance, she writes plays herself and she travels around the world to perform. She just came back from Berlin, where she played a solo dance-film performance.  „Things were different there, the audience, government’s position regarding arts,“ says Rima, as if wishing all that were in her homeland as well.

Rima is not someone, who gives up easily. Her love to dance goes far beyond just an occupation, it is her life, so she creates a space for herself to grow.

The master of ceramics

Mir-Teymur Mammadov, an energetic 70 year-old man, is a prominent artist of Azerbaijan. He is known for his art of ceramics which ranges from plates, ceramic portraits, mugs to different shapes and human figures, from tiny pieces to body-size statues.

Mir-Teymur says that ceramics is an important part of the region’s ancient history and cultural heritage. With a lot of enthusiasm he provides information about details of different patterns on different pieces of ceramic arts, delivering messages of ancient residents of the region to all those who visits his workshop.

His workshop is an enchanted place in the most remarkable part of Baku – Içərişəhər, the Old City. He has transformed his two-storied house into a fairy tale: already the entrance is fully covered with different pieces of ceramics in all kinds of colors and shapes. Among these decorations are many small statues that remind a visitor of a puppet theatre. The ground floor with a lovely courtyard is a tidy place hosting very orderly put small and big pieces of ceramics. Mir-Teymur gives detailed information about the material of each piece, the story of each work and the meaning of various patterns on the ceramics. On the upper floor, the actual work is going on: there is a big oven specially designed for burning ceramics. Mir-Teymur shows how he shapes ceramics, how he colors them and which materials he uses to create his art. A person in his 40s puts some materials in the oven without paying any attention to the guests visiting the workshop. Mir-Teymur says that this person is his follower and that he will succeed him in the art of ceramics. At this moment, we also see a group of young girls and boys coming from another room of the workshop. It turns out that Mir-Teymur also gives lessons at the Art University but these young students are here at their own initiatives to voluntarily help and learn. Mir-Teymur demonstrates utmost pride of what we see at his workshop.

Mir-Teymur Mammadov was awarded a small grant as part of the Swiss government’s Regional Art and Culture project. The purpose of this project was inviting a Moldovan artist of ceramics to produce and exhibit joint pieces of ceramic arts together with Mir-Teymur. In the opening of the first day of the exhibition Mir-Teymur said: “We have been doing similar projects with artists from different countries of the world and we realize that through these projects of art and joint exhibitions we can lay roads to each other’s cultures.”