Remembering the Armenian genocide

Remembrance for the Armenian genocide in Boston

Matt Conti photographed the Armenian genocide remembrance on the Greenway today.

Photo posted under this Creative Commons license. Tagged as universalhub on Flickr.

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    Gawd.

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    I haven't actually laid eyes on this memorial yet but my first thoughts are a. Ugly and b. Pointless.

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    Pointless?

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    Are you turkish?

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    No, Armenian actually.

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    Family members were driven out, killed, or died of illness after the journey through the desert to Syria. I just don't see how an ugly geometric sculpture on the greenway contributes anything meaningful to the memory of the genocide. It seems completely abstract and disconnected to me. I feel the same about most similar projects--artistically they're usually execrable and the placement usually seems completely random. Just my opinion on memorials, not on human tragedy.

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    Why?

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    My first thought was "bravo" to the people that funded/built/approved this memorial. And good on Adam for sharing this.

    Why do you think it's pointless?

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    It belongs in Watertown and

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    It belongs in Watertown and not randomly on the greenway far from any Armenian community.

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    Oh, you mean like the Holocaust memorial ...

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    Belongs in Brookline, rather than randomly on Congress Street, far away from any Jewish community?

    You don't think there might be some more universal lessons to be learned from remembering a genocide?

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    I'm honestly not sure.

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    Just a dark thought on a rainy morning, but no--I don't think a sculpture or a plaque IS an effective way to convey a universal lesson about genocide and the dreadful tendency for people to repeat the mistakes of the past again and again. UNLESS it is brilliantly executed, a la Maya Lin, and even then...I just have doubts.

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    Monuments

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    I agree the monument is quite ugly but creating this and other memorials is good for the city and society. The Turkish government and many Turks are still in denial about this part of their history, and idiots all over the world and this country still deny or downplay the Holocaust. We as a society have to keep throwing facts back in the faces of the deniers. And monuments like this are one way, among many ways, of doing it.

    Ironically, the pure ugliness of the memorial as a piece of art may draw people to it, and thus to its message.

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    Next up: Holodomor

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    Ukrainian genocide by Stalin - three times as many deaths.

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    I don't think bad art or ugliness

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    is an apt way to memorialize anything. It's obviously a very sensitive area, politically, but it would have been interesting to see a design concept that somehow acknowledged the way that Armenian history--churches, homes, monuments--has been systematically destroyed in Turkey, like incriminating evidence that someone wants hidden. But again...I just don't see how a memorial here has any impact on the Turkish government or really raises awareness of what happened.

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    If just one kid

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    Passes a memorial while on a school trip or on vacation with his/her family looks at a memorial and asks what it is about and then learns something, or better yet, decides to do some research when he/she gets home, I'd say the memorial was a success.

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    The "if just one person..." notion sets a pretty low bar

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    My question is really--could it have been done better? And should it have been done at all? Given the money spent (and I have no idea how much it was) isn't there a more effective way of telling this story? I believe that there must be.

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    Feel free to get invovled

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    Save for the question "should it have been done at all?" the issues you raise are legitimate...but only if you've actually raised them in a venue where they may have made a difference. Sniping from the sidelines isn't fair. If you were in fact somehow involved, in a committee or a fundraising project for this memorial, you can claim to have a beef. If you think this memorial is inappropriate and you could come up with a better one, please feel free to do so.

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    What do you think of the Liberty Square Monument?

    ... to the 1956 Hungarian Uprising?

    There isn't even much of a Hungarian community here, either.

    I would think we should look into our own past and put up a statue of Mum Bett before we do anymore remembrances of offshore events, though.

    The Greenway is getting these things now for the same reason the Commonwealth Ave. Mall has the older ones - open space of monumental proportions.

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    I've always kind of liked it actually.

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    It also seems oddly incongruous--I've never met a Hungarian in Boston and didn't know anything about the uprising. But somehow it seems to work for the space and there's always been something pleasantly surprising about it. Irrational, I know.

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    An anomaly

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    I doubt if many people take time to reflect on what this memorial commemorates.

    The Greenway is not getting memorials the way Comm Ave mall did. The Armenian memorial is the only memorial to a historical moment on the Greenway. The other installations are fountains, the "island" for the Harbor Islands, the fountains over by the North End and at the South Station end of the Greenway the gardens and murals that have been painted on the ventilation building. The Greenway is not developing the way Comm Ave did. Not yet at least.

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    Maya Lin's memorial is the

    Maya Lin's memorial is the only memorial to which I have no connection (none of my family fought in that war) and which gets me every single time I stand at it. The design is brilliant.

    Another memorial of questionable design: the Irish Famine Memorial. When office workers can eat lunch while sitting on or near a memorial to a famine, I have to question its effectiveness.

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    I don't any universal lessons

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    I don't any universal lessons to be learned from a very abstract memorial which does nothing to teach people about the horrors committed by the Turks against the Armenians. I don't think most BPS graduates even can find Armenia on a map let alone tell you about the collapse of Ottoman Empire and its brutal attempts to crush revolt in Arabia and Asia Minor before the end of World War One dissolved the empire.

    The holocaust memorial at least has some strong symbolism in its design and proximity to parts of the city which at one point had significant Jewish populations.

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    What if they made a Holocaust

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    What if they made a Holocaust Memorial on Blue Hill Ave Mattapan, when that area was Jewish. Neighborhoods change, stuff remains. Poor St. Patrick's church at the end of the ave....

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    Try seeing it yourself first.

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    Try seeing it yourself first. The labyrinth laid on the ground is beautiful, and it provides a moment of peace and tranquility in the city.

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    Agreed.

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    I do remember seeing the design for the labyrinth and liking the idea. I should withhold judgment. But the two elements seem completely disconnected no?

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    I didn't know anything about

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    I didn't know anything about this until today. I might have liked to attend. I am 1/2 Armenian but know very little about the genocide. The old timers didn't want to talk about it much.
    The Armenian Museum in Watertown has a lot of information, if anyone is interested.

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    Walk of Shame

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    Perhaps the plan is to use the former area under the elevated expressway as a Walk of Shame for all the various genocides/civil wars: Armenian, Cambodia, Stalinist, Rwanda, Biafra (Nigeria), Congo, Central Africa, South Sudan/Darfur, Syria etc. Of course, the biggest shame is the US government resisting acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide in order to keep military bases in Turkey and a "friend" in the region. Its like most of our friends, purchased.

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    Ugliness lies

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    ..in the beholders eyes.

    In an attempt to figure out what all the fuss is budgeted for,I read through several interesting items.

    There was some huge pissing contest over the whole thing with Mumbles and some neighborhood org maven while the lot was granted through some back room deal from a state entity.

    They dodged process, damn them!!

    But, more interesting than that real estate squabble crap is the provenance.

    Armenian Heritage Park and its endowment with funds for ongoing care and maintenance, and public programs have been funded by the generous support of individuals and organizations. The Park and its endowment are key initiative of the Armenian Heritage Foundation, comprised of representatives from thirty-seven Armenian-American churches and organizations within Massachusetts. Armenian Heritage Park has been constructed at no expense to the taxpayer, and will be cared for and maintained in perpetuity.

    The sculpture is designed to be changed every year but there isn't any information of who made it that I've found so far.

    As an advocate for something that is dissed because of it's failure to pander to public expectations, real or imagined, I'm at least sympathetic with things that involve this level of effort and broad support of constituents.

    And part of understanding any expressive thing more subtle than a South Park episode is discovering the artists intent, if any. Is it a bridge or a wall?

    And how exactly would one make a more bald depiction of cultural slaughter?

    Should we gather Watertown school kids to paint a mural of their ancestors going through that?

    Must every citation of one filthy vicious thing one culture does to another result in suffering contests from comfortable descendants of other cultures who went through comparable ordeals?

    I guess I should take comfort as an arrogant wasp in knowing that my perfidious bunch were usually on the giving side of misery rather than the receiving side but that doesn't really seem like a good outlook.

    I know, we are crazy monkeys, Humanzees really, and when a bunch of us goes off on a rampage another bunch is going to end up in some kind of abattoir.

    With luck we'll outgrow it eventually.

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    Why on the Greenway?

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    I remember the discussions about whether a memorial for any particular group was appropriate for the Greenway. Given the nature of the Greenway I believe that this sculpture is poorly situated and would be better contemplated in an area not devoted to entertainment and play.

    The sculpture to me is cold, unfeeling and utterly disconnected to genocide or criminal actions of a nation-state. A labyrinth is a good idea but it is compromised being situated between two major roads where there is a constant stream of city noises.

    The Holocaust Memorial is in a good location. It sits in the middle of a well trafficked area but is still set as an island. The towers do a good job of focusing attention on the site rather than attention spilling out and around to what's around the site. Including the names of death camps, evoking the steam of train engines that are hauling away human beings to the camps, and of course etching the numbers assigned to people murdered in the camps gives detail and symbolic evidence of the event. The memorial for Armenians killed by Turks abstracts their deaths. It does not anchor and articulate that people were killed.

    One aspect that bothers me much about how the treatment of the Holocaust Memorial are the many people who stomp their way through, talking on their cell phones, oblivious to what the memorial represents. But I also see plenty of people take their time, read the inscriptions, and allow themselves to reflect on the Holocaust.

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