Atom Egoyan explores genocide in new art exhibit
Produced under the umbrella of The International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies in Toronto, the multi-media show hopes to raise the public's awareness about genocide.
Featuring work from 16 artists across North America, Egoyan says the show at Toronto's Lennox Contemporary gets to the core of what human genocide really means.
"It's one thing that a journalist's piece can do. But an artist's work can pierce the heart in a different way," says Egoyan, 48.
"In the case of genocide there's been such a history of denial about that," the Canadian director told Canada AM today.
Delving into the subject matter in 2002's "Ararat," Egoyan's movie was loosely based on the Siege of Van during the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century, an event that is denied by the government of Turkey.
That film explored the specific impact of that historical event. It also examined the nature of truth and its representation through art.
As Egoyan says of "Ararat," "I wasn't so much talking about the historic event, but rather how that denial had created a transmission of trauma from one generation to another."
That tragedy holds deep personal meaning for Egoyan and his wife, actress Arsin�e Khanjian
The pair are supporters of The Zoryan Institute of Canada, Inc.
Together with The Zoryan Institute for Contemporary Armenian Research and Documentation in Cambridge, Mass., this non-profit research institute is devoted to scholarly research that documents, studies, and disseminates material related to the life of the Armenian people in the recent past and the present within the context of larger world affairs.
In 2003, the couple launched the "Atom Egoyan and Arsin�e Khanjian Fund" to support the Zoryan Institute's Genocide and Human Rights University Program.
The after-effects of genocide are clearly evidenced in the works by Ulysses Castellanos, Joyce Lau, Steven Loft, Katie Pretti, Shannon Scully, Veronika Szkudlarek, Bill Wolff and Arie Galles.
"It's a non-propagandistic kind of show," says artist and educator Galles, who was born in 1944 in Uzbekistan and raised in Poland.
Galles's contributions to this show are based on aerial photography taken during the Second World War. But each artist's entry, he says, explores the intensity of what it is to be involved or witness a genocide.
"These works have incredible strength," says Galles, who appeared with Egoyan on Canada AM. "Any genocide does not happen in a Martian landscape. It happens on this earth. The horror is that humanity can perpetrate it on this incredibly beautiful blue marble we are flying on."
On display until June 7, "Remains to Be Seen," says Egoyan "Is both open to interpretation but able to be emotionally devastating."