"I tried to show how Ararat is having a part in my soul" Anna-Lea Kopperi

There are “mountains” that come to the heart and mind and stay there. There are “mountains” that never seem to move in the daily thinking and handling. A person may even life his whole life without noticing what a mountain he carried in his head. Anna-Lea Kopperi
Anna-Lea Kopperi's, Mountain in my head, 2012, Yerevan,
Photo by Arthur Sakhkalyan
May 15 at NPAK was the opening of a conceptual exhibition representing Anna-Lea Kopperi’s “Mountain in my head” artwork.
There was never before a similar exhibit, with such a kind of idea and a message to be represented to the Armenian public. In this case the mountain is the one that has a very important meaning for Armenian nation and symbol – the mountain Ararat, which is shown as a friend for the author. 

There are happy mountains and sad, gloomy mountains. I drew some mountains of my head on paper while watching a mountain in Yerevan, my new fellow Ararat I tried to catch something essential of my own thinking and of my feelings while admiring at something that is mightier, older and more experienced than me”.
Anna-Lea Kopperi, together we plant an Ash Tree, Yerevan, 2012,
Photo by Avet Baze Avetisyan
Just before having any information about Anna and reading all the thoughts addressed to the Ararat mountain, most of the guests and me as well had this impression that she has some Armenian blood in her which is pushing her to think about Ararat that specific way. But in fact Anna-Lea Kopperi is Finnish and was born in Finland. This is how she described why exactly she represented Ararat mountain in her exhibit. 

“In Venice Biennale I saw some work of Yoko Ono, and those one were a source of inspiration for me to start my own artwork connected to mountains. Everything started when me and my friend were traveling by car from Germany till Greece. On our way I saw the Alps and so I started to write some small lines about the mountains. When I was planning to visit Armenia, I knew not much about that place, so I got this idea to show my thoughts about Ararat with my conceptual artapproach”.
Anna-Lea Kopperi, We can move the mountains, charcoal on wall, 3 x 12 m, 2012 Photo: Suren Arakelyan
The participants are sitting on a cloud and trying to express their thought by writing or drawing something that they would like.

 “I invite people to make visible their own “mountains” in a room, which is covered with soft, white material. On the white “cloud” people can sit down by a low table, write and draw their own personal mountains and hang them in the space. The chain of mountains is altered every time someone hangs his/her own mountain and adds it to the collection. I invite people to move the mountains of their heads, in order to move the mountains of their surroundings”.
 Anna-Lea Kopperi, We walk always Together, 2011, Photo: Paul Bryk
 Anna-Lea Kopperi, We walk always Together, 2011, Photo: Paul Bryk
When Arthur translated one of those thoughts which were hanging over the cloud Anna-Lea Kopperi was surprised with the fact that Armenians tried to nationalized and give a political shade to her artwork. The idea and meaning which the artist tried to express are totally different.

“In confronting the politically disputed mountain Ararat, I decided to take a look at my own personal thinking, feelings, motives and policies that I practice in my life. By doing so, I state that very personal thinking is the essential thing that determines the political statements and efforts of individuals. The enlarging of the awareness about personal policies and motivations of individuals is the main key to improving the politics between individuals and between countries. Personal is political”.

It’s both acceptable – as the thoughts of the visitors as well as the idea of the author, but in general one thing is clear – we Armenians can’t make an impression to our self that Ararat mountain is not located on territory of Republic of Armenia, anyway we feel this mountain as ours and just because the exhibit is going on in Armenia so the main thoughts of the visitors were directed to Ararat mountain. The artist as well is aware that Biblical Ararat at the moment is out of Armenian borders.

Anna-Lea Kopperi’s, Mountain in my head”, 2012, Yerevan
Photo by Arthur Sakhkalyan
“Yes you are right, Ararat mountain has some national meaning for you but I tried to show how Ararat is having a part in my soul. This mountain is close to me just as a mountain and not as a symbol”. At the same time the author is mentioning the importance of the location of the exhibit. 

“It is very important – where the exhibition is going on with all the details of the space. In this one as well as the table and the room are specially selected in the form of a square, just because I wanted like that. There is no special meaning for that, I am a conceptual artist and for me the main thing is the thought.”
 Anna-Lea Kopperi, Mountain in my Heart, drawing ink on paper, 21 x 30 cm, 2012  
This is how Anna-Lea Kopperi replied to my question about how strong is the interest for such a kind of art in Armenian public –“There is a big gap yet between the education type which Armenians and Europeans got connected to art in general, so we need some time to wait till this gap will disappear.  But if we are talking about my art, it was accepted very well and warm just because it is very simple and you need not much skills to understand it. It’s very much close to the hearts of human being, because they can see paradise or heaven in this space. Everyone who come to my exhibit feels very well here.”

In general Anna-Lea Kopperi is happy with the amount of visitors who come to see her art but at the same time she can see the ex Soviet style of thinking and accepting art. “I can totally accept that fact that during the opening of the exhibit there are much more visitors than the next days. Also I can understand that in Armenia there are not so much fans of contemporary art in general. It’s much more better if those will come who can understand and love the contemporary art, but if there is no one in general coming this is also not good!”(She is smiling.-N.A)

This is Anna-Lea Kopperi’s first visit to Armenia and she is doing her first exhibit here, but she was already participating with a different performance project of giving out Ash Trees for free in Mashtotspark.
Anna-Lea Kopperi:Together we plant an Ash Tree Yerevan, 2012
Photographer: Avet Baze Avetisyan
“First time I saw Armenians not in Armenia, it was in Venice. There is such a program which allows the artist go with an exchange program to a different country and live and create there. Why I choose this place to be is because Armenia is located just in between east and west and the second thing is that I am a Christian.”
How long she will stay in Armenia she can’t say for sure.

“It’s not so easy for me here but I would like to learn Armenian language and why not stay here for a permanent residency.”
 Anna-Lea Kopperi, Across the Air, Durbar Hall Ground, Kochi, India, 2011,
photo: Anna-Lea Kopperi
One thing which makes her sad is that Armenians not yet are able to fully concentrate on their work as it is happening in Finland for instance, where every artist tries to show and push it’s own art work as hard as they can and be proud of it. “Here I need to push everyone to do something.”

While Anna-Lea Kopperi will stay in Armenia she is planning to have some more art projects.

“In the near future I will realize a project with kids, in which I will use interactive methods.”

We wish good luck for Anna-Lea Kopperi’s all projects including her wish to travel to all districts of Armenia.

Anna-Lea Kopperi’s “Mountain in my head” exhibition is going now till 2nd of June.

NPAK Biuzand Blvd 1/3 tel. 010 56 82 25
Open everyday not including Mondays from 10.00 till 17.00
The entrance is free

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