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Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Letters from Lost Paradise, 2015

Installation view at Mekhitarist Monastery of San Lazzaro degli Armeni

56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Hera Büyüktaşçıyan's sculpture Letters from Lost Paradise (2015) maps out a journey of language through Lord Byron's time studying Armenian on the island where this exhibition takes place: San Lazzaro degli Armeni, established in the eighteenth century when the Mekhitarian community was expelled from the Peloponnese. Büyüktaşçıyan's sculpture – which presents moving letter stamps spelling out English text written with Armenian script – reflects on what the artist describes as a tension that 'exists between the process of reaching out to understand the other, and the process of becoming totally assimilated and thus alienated from one's own identity, culture and language.' On the work's composition, Büyüktaşçıyan considered the use of the Armenian alphabet in Anatolia in both the past and present day, where some Armenian communities produce texts in Turkish written in Armenian letters.

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