Anatomy of a Protest

The Karabakh Movement in Avetik Hovhannisyan’s 1988 Photographs

The oeuvre of photographer Avetik Hovhannisyan (1960-1988) is unknown to the wider public, yet Hovhannisyan’s first exhibition, curated by Vigen Galstyan for the EVN Media Festival, reveals the remarkable documentary significance of his tragically short-lived career. A passionate and dedicated amateur, Hovhannisyan dreamed of becoming a professional photojournalist but was murdered at the age of 28 under unresolved circumstances. With the onset of “Perestroika” and the Karabakh Freedom Movement, the young photographer became involved in various underground civic and activist circles, and was on the streets of Yerevan everyday, documenting the great wave of anti-Soviet protests and the violence perpetrated by the Communist regime that would eventually lead to its  collapse. His extensive archive consists of over a thousand negatives and prints depicting this tumultuous period in Soviet and Armenian history. Aside from being a tremendous historical document, this collection, held by the ManBan Visual Culture Archive, also enables us to expand our understanding of photography’s uses as a tool for political and social activism during Armenia’s transition at the close of the 20th century.

The Crowd 

The March 

The Witnesses 

The Faces 

The Clash 

The Text  

The Surveillance   

The Speech