The starting point for Yto Barrada’s project is the unique and tragic figure of Thérèse Rivière. In the 1930s, the French ethnologist traveled to Algeria, to the Aurès mountains, to study the Berber Chaouis people.
Kum Kapi carpets owe their name to a district of Istanbul where, in the 19th century, various Armenian master carpet makers settled to create their rich knotted carpets of silk, with metal threads, inspired by the classic Persian carpets of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Hagop Kapoudjian (c. 1870-1946) was one of the most famous Kum Kapi master carpet makers, and created three of the carpets included in the exhibition, which are placed in dialogue with works by the contemporary artist, also of Armenian origin, Mekhitar Garabedian (b. 1977, Aleppo).
Two artists from different times and places who share a common past that, in a way, is connected to the life story of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian himself.
The exhibition establishes a dialogue between tradition and contemporaneity, continuity and reinvention, showing in surprising ways the relationship between the carpet and the journey that is, here, more than ever, linked to the Armenian Diaspora.