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Thirty Steps to the 3-rd Floor

May 20, 2017
In the wake of discussions and criticism raised at the All-Union Youth Exhibition of 1986, a group of dissident artists whose creative approaches and ideas were rejected by the Soviet apparatus had the chance to organize an exhibition at the Artists’ Union of Armenia. Its opening was held on April 10, 1987, at the conference room of the third floor of the Artists’ Union. The representative core of the exhibition was constituted by Armenia’s underground avant-garde groups formed back in the late 70s and early 80s, as well as individuals. It outgrew into an artistic movement, which would have a decisive role in the further development of Armenia’s contemporary art and the adoption of new practices.

The exhibition title referred to the location of the exhibition, - the third floor of the Artists’ Union, and the movement would later come under that name, the 3-rd Floor.

The first exhibition of 1987, which lasted six days, was followed by meetings and active discussions about art with representatives of avant-garde music and literature, cinema and fine arts. The success of the exhibition and the strong response paved a way towards the institutional domain of the Artists’ Union for many participating artists, contributing to further expansion of the group's free activities and public representativeness.

Along with exhibitions, the most important forms of self-expression of the 3-rd Floor group were regularly published manifestos, which formulated their basic ideology and the criteria that established the grounds for their art.

According to a retrospective characterization by the artists of the movement, the 3-rd Floor became an area of “fresh breath,” which reformulated the criteria of freedom in Armenian art and the creative capabilities of individuals who defined those criteria.

The Thirty Steps to the 3-rd Floor exhibition has been organized within the scope of the Cafesjian Teen Council project. It was aimed at retrospectively introducing the documentary of the group’s activities through archive photos and video, as well as manifestos, and at the same time creating  a communication platform between the 3-rd Floor group artists and the teenagers involved.

Video footage has been filmed within the frame of the project with participation of the group artists, who re-enact the premises for the creation and establishment of the group and its major achievements, from a distance of thirty years.
The exhibition also includes a manifesto by the members of the Cafesjian Teen Council, for whom the activities of the 3-rd Floor and their meetings with the artists were a source of inspiration.

Given that the 3-rd Floor movement was open to all expressions of art, visitors of the Thirty Steps to the 3-rd Floor exhibition are free to leave their definitions about art on the poster located in the gallery.
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