Musician, poet and performing artist Ashot Danielyan advocates art as an instrument for social change, a new and unfamiliar concept in Uzbekistan. The repressive political regime in Uzbekistan over the past three decades has resulted in isolation in artistic and social life leading to severe stasis. The dominance of the academic art school inherited from the Soviet past ensures that the local art community follows conformist self-censorship and aggressively rejects new ideas or socially engaged art practices.
During his ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Ashot met professional and civic communities and explored cross-cultural experiences and socially engaged art practices which emerge from poetry, alternative music and theater. Sharing interest and practice in Japanese history, language, culture, experimental poetry, performance, and book-making, Ashot and his US collaborator Mami Takahashi of PICA, launch a series of poetry readings, artist talks and conversations. The multi-city cultural exchange resulted from Ashot’s and Mami’s virtual residency in 2020 and takes place at PICA and other cultural and educational institutions in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago in 2021.