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New Video: Mary Kouyoumdjian’s Silent Cranes

“Our grandparents are singing. Let’s finish their songs.”

This week we released a new video, excerpted from Mary Kouyoumdjian’s Silent Cranes, which premiered in Yerevan, Armenia in 2015, with images by Laurie Olinder and words by David Barsamian.

A century is a long time. It is, and it isn’t.

The lost child of Bitlis cries out: Mayrig, mayrig, Oor es? Minag em. Ge vakhnam. Mother, mother. Where are you? I am alone and afraid.

Those who control the present, control the past, and those who control the past control the future.” –Orwell

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” –Santayana

“The struggle of human against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. … The assassination of Allende quickly covered over the memory of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the bloody massacre in Bangladesh caused Allende to be forgotten, the din of war in the Sinai drowned out the groans of Bangladesh, the massacres in Cambodia caused the Sinai to be forgotten, and so on, and on and on, until everyone has completely forgotten everything.” –Kundera

“Who speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” –Hitler

Yergeer. Homeland. Water so clean, airso pure, fruits and vegetables so tasty. So survivors of the genocide told me, maybe with some exaggeration. Yergeer. A magical place full of wonder and cruelties.

Turkey: A crime scene. No more Enver and Talaat statues and streets. No more pretending it didn’t happen. No more macho posturing. Liberate yourselves from twisted and toxic nationalist narratives.

Ambassador Morgenthau: “Where are the Armenians heading?” Talaat: “Their destination is the abyss.”

We, the keepers of memories and dreams, keep coming up like weeds to remind you and ourselves of the past. A faded but dear landscape drenched in blood. The burning of books and churches. We live in their ashes and beyond them. “Against the ruin of the world? There is only one defense: The creative act.” –Rexroth

Let us play again in our gardens and fields and glory in the beauty of the flowers forever.

A century is a long time. It is and it isn’t.

Why do I feel it is important to talk about the Armenian Genocide 100 years later? It’s important to complete the poems and eat the last pieces of lavash and bastegh. Our grandparents are singing. Let’s finish their songs.

Mary Kouyoumdjian’s Silent Cranes was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet with support from the David Harrington Research and Development Fund, the Angel Stoyanof Commission Fund, Zvart and Rouben Potoukian, Andrea A. Lunsford, Gates McFadden and Robert Straus, Dayna Sumiyoshi and Greg Smedsrud, many funders in the Indiegogo community, and other generous individuals. Silent Cranes was premiered by the Kronos Quartet at the Yerevan Perspectives 16th International Music Festival in the Armenian National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Yerevan, Armenia, on April 29, 2015.

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