THE BOOK OF WHISPERS by Varujan Vosganian

Excerpt from

THE STORY OF YUSUF

Translated by Alistair Ian Blyth

The Book of Whispers begins in a picturesque register, on a lane of the Armenian quarter of Focşani in the 1950s, among the steam of freshly roasted coffee and the scents of grandmother Armenuhi’s larder, among the old books and photographs of grandfather Garabet. But the reader is not left to savour the intimacy of this hearth and home and nor is he invited to chat with the merry folk who in peacetime spin stories about Ara the Fair and Tigran the Great. Varujan Vosganian’s “old Armenians from childhood” have no delectable tales to tell, but rather events that are thoroughly disturbing. In narrating these events, they attempt to disburden themselves of a trauma – their own and that of their forbears.

The history of the 1915 genocide against the Armenians, the history of the interminable convoys of those banished into the Circles of Death, into the Deir ez Zor Desert, the secret history of Armenian freemasonry in Romania, of General Dro’s army, the history of the Armenians who followed the path of exile in the Stalinist period – all these and many other biographically filtered histories are to be found illustrated in the pages of this unsettling book.

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Painting and Tango: Argentinian artist Raquel Partnoy

Video by Argentinian artist Anibal Nazzaro

In her early 20s, Raquel Partnoy studied painting in Buenos Aires with Argentinean painter and muralist Demetrio Urruchúa. Inspired by his humanism, Partnoy developed a series of paintings that reflects both her heritage and life’s experiences.

In 1976, a military coup seized power in Argentina, bringing in its wake seven years of cruel dictatorship. During this era of horror, 30,000 Argentinean citizen “disappeared” most of them eventually were massacred by the government. Partnoy created Life Experiences. “Blindfolded” is part of this series of paintings.

After arriving in the United States, Partnoy visited the Holocaust Museum and recognized the similarities between the Argentinean devastations and the genocide of the Holocaust. Her exposure to testimonies of Holocaust and Argentina survivors compelled her to paint her series Surviving Genocide.

Raquel Partnoy has also created a gallery of portraits about those extraordinary women who silenced their own aspirations, spending their quiet, still lives giving moral and physical support to their male partners, famous artists. The name of this Series is: Women Still Lives.

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE


In 1994, when Partnoy visited the Jewish Museum in New York for the first time, she became impressed by the images and the rich textures of the ancient religious objects. It was then that she thought that she would need a different material than oil painting to portrait the life of the Jewish people and the stories of the women of the Bible. She chose fabrics to create the collages, more specifically, discarded fabrics she found at some upholstery stores and at dressmakers shops, to tell those stories about dreams, exile, and hopes.


Gallery: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE


SURVIVING GENOCIDE


By portraying the landscape of terror of Argentina, Partnoy tells about the dramatic situation during the dictatorship in her country  between 1976 and 1983, when 30,000 people were killed by the military.