In their moving-image– and installation-based practice, Pejvak, the Toronto-based artist duo of Felix Kalmenson and Rouzbeh Akhbari, consider how global capitalism affects land, culture, and movement across borders. Their 2018 project A Passage takes the landscape as its starting point, exploring the state of Armenia’s southern border amid the construction of an industrial free economic zone (FEZ), and the simultaneous abandonment and destruction of a historical transnational railway.
Shot in the abandoned Meghri Airport and in the village of Agarak, Make Breeze (2018), the first two-channel video presented in the exhibition, captures two horsemen wearing mirrored masks, pacing back and forth on the derelict runway. The second video, A Passage (2018), depicts Agarak’s theatre on one screen, where, as the horsemen travel through the now-defunct rail tunnel on the other, the local children’s choir announces the major embarkation points on the former Yerevan-Baku railroad.
The exhibition deliberately looks outside of Canada to consider how artistic inquiry can deliver a critique of neoliberal hypercapitalism within the terms of nationalism. With the Canadian government currently committed to funding pipeline development despite nationwide protests in 2019 and beyond, it continues to enact illegal force to extinguish assertions of Indigenous sovereignty and the civil right to protest. Within the context of Canada’s contemporary political reality, A Passage offers a noteworthy critique, reflecting on the ways that transnational development in the name of capital alters sociality.