Art historian Hasmik Barkhudaryan notes that around 2015, artists in Armenia started to use graffiti to express acute criticism.
“It was the best way of protest that an artist could think of during that period,” she says.
Anna Zhamakochyan, sociologist, agrees that due to the lack of other protest platforms and spaces, street art became “one of the best ways” to express resistance.
“When there weren’t many spaces available for protest, the only public spaces left in the city were the walls, where it was possible to express protest and make it visible so it penetrated into everyday life,” she says.
Zhamakochyan recalls a wave of protest-inspired graffiti started with environmental protests, like the 2007 demonstrations against mining in Teghut.
For Avetisyan, who does not consider herself an artist, street art was a natural evolution in how she expressed protest.
She also began writing on the streets as it allowed her to make the political messages more accessible to the public. Also, she gives big importance to streets on ideological level supposedly related to the fact that all the political protests she participated in, took place in the streets.
Graffiti allowed her to write, and most importantly write in the streets, where citizenship, according to her, begins.
“The paper and pen formed the space of my creation,” she says. By swapping pen and paper for paint and walls, graffiti became another tool for her struggle. Avetisyan notes that it was ideologically important for her to write on the streets—and graffiti allowed her to spread her message to a larger audience.
In its essence, street art implies resistance, according to art historian Barkhudaryan. “Before becoming a tool for protest or having the potential of speaking up of a certain issue, it is already a protest within the field of art,” she notes.
Compared to other forms of art, “street art has an interesting phenomenon of collective discretion,” Barkhudaryan adds.
“Therefore, it has a larger impact and the chances are higher that it will penetrate different layers of society and more quickly become a matter of public discussions.”