Asbarez – Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich will officially unveil a permanent Armenian Genocide monument at Grand Park’s Olive Court on September 17 at 5:00. Last year, Supervisor Antonovich sponsored the highly popular and well-received iWitness public rt installation at Grand Park and the Music Center. Moved by the great response, LA County has teamed-up with the iwitness project to install a permanent memorial to the Genocide. The unveiling will include musical performances and speakers.
The iWitness project is a collective made up of artists Ara Oshagan, Levon Parian, architect Vahagn Thomasian and other activists and artists.
The permanent monument is made of black volcanic tuff rock imported directly from the Ararat Valley of Armenia. Tuff is indigenous to the Armenian highlands and deep-rooted in that millennial history. It has been the material of choice for centuries and used to build hundreds of churches, historical buildings and artworks. The monument is a silent witness to that history as well as a witness to the Genocide itself. The sculpted angular shape of the iwitness monument is an echo and extension of the iwitness installation.
Sculpted by Vahagn Thomasian, the monument is both organic and conceptual. It is sourced from the earth itself and blends in with the natural flora and fauna of Grand Park. The monument is split in two, symbolizing the spiritual and physical rupture of the Armenian Genocide: a disruption of history and community not only for the Armenian nation but also for all of humanity.
“The idea that a rock can be a witness is perhaps unusual but very significant”, says artist Ara Oshagan. “It was there and that history is imbedded in it. A witness need not speak to be a witness. Just like the trees around Auschwitz are witnesses to the Holocaust.”
The juxtaposition of smooth and rough surfaces on either half of the iwitness monument further symbolizes the past and the present and re-emphasizes the disruption between the two realities.
Wrapped around the foot of the iwitness memorial are words by the Pulitzer Prize winning Armenian- American playwright and author, William Saroyan—urging a celebration of life and hope for the future. “This is a memorial to a horrible event,” says artist Levon Parian, “but Saroyan’s words elevate and remind us of the mysteries and joys of being alive. We remember the past, but live in the today- reaching for the future.”