From Nightmare into National Dream

Young artists believe Nubarashen has the potential to become a center of arts and culture.
Hermine Virabyan
Nubarashen, once an urban settlement, is now one of Yerevan's administrative districts, which is mostly known for the penitentiary institution, the mental hospital, the waste dump, and the cemetery located there; and is also known for its repatriate residents, who have been populating the district from 1930s.
The settlement was started owing to donations of Diaspora Armenians and was named Nubarashen in honor of Armenian philanthropist Poghos Nubar Pasha. In 1930 the philanthropist is believed to have donated USD 100 000 for construction purposes. The settlement was designed under distinguished architect Alexander Tamanyan, who stayed personally involved in supervising the construction works of the settlement intended for repatriating Armenians for two years. A few years following its construction the community was renamed into Sovetashen. Those were years of the Stalin repressions, and anything reminding of national identity, could have life changing consequences, even if it was only a name of a borough.

A group of young artists today is intended to turn the re-named district into a center of arts and culture and to break the negative associations, which pop up in one's mind at every mention of the word Nubarashen. The initiative of the transformation belongs to 2014-2016 students of the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). Their plans include turning the old clothing factory of the district into a giant center for arts making the controversial borough an art-lovers' attraction point in Yerevan.

"Nubarashen was meant to embody the 'national dream'; yet today it is more of a nightmare," says Nazareth Karoyan, the most ardent supporter of the initiative and the founding director of the ICA, and a native of the community himself.
From Nightmare into National Dream.
video: Hermine Virabyan