In the face of denial and apathy, Armenian Americans have had to be creative as to how to commemorate the Armenian Genocide without falling into self-pity and a culture of victimhood.
In 1996, artist Daniel V. Hejinian created one of the most ingenuous solutions. He began displaying simple graphic Armenian Genocide commemorative billboards in Watertown, just outside Boston, Massachusetts.
By 2004, Hejinian created the Peace of Art non-profit to sponsor the project. Peace of Art’s broader mission is to use art as an educational tool to bring awareness to the universal human condition and promote peaceful solutions to conflict.
Watertown was a perfect locale because roughly 20% of the population is Armenian American and it became a symbol of a communal wound that hasn’t been allowed to heal. Last fall–like every year–the U.S. government refused to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide for fear of upsetting Turkey .
During the month of April 2008, the billboards will be displayed on School Street and on Mount Auburn Street in Watertown, MA
This was the first billboard in 1996.
2006: The poster was torn by vandals but restored with an added message.
2008: This year there is a renewed simplicity and a clear use of the pomegranate, which is the Armenian symbol of fertility.
To see the complete archive of billboards visit here.