5.5–21.5 2023
Mkrtich Tonoyan
Military art, Art for Defence

Vernissage fredag 5 maj 2023 kl 17–22.

Öppet fredag–söndag kl 13–16 t.o.m. 21 maj 2023.
Gotlandsgatan 76, Stockholm. Buss 3 och 76 till Gotlandsgatan eller tunnelbana till Skanstull.


Mkrtich Tonoyan, ‘Pacifist Masking in the Park of Victory Against Fascism’, public intervention on the Day of the Great Victory Against Fascism, 9 May 2013, Yerevan.

Military art, Art for Defence

In times of turmoil, the war in Ukraine, and escalating conflict in Sudan, art may help us widen our perspective of what military is about and what it does to humans. Mkrtich Tonoyan has a personal experience from war and has since twenty years explored ‘miltary art’ in various ways.

”My practice is a disagreement with current world power structures and an attempt to investigate causes, perform resistance and enact change. When I discovered that ‘beauty’ couldn’t change the world anymore I started to think about alternative approaches, strategies, aesthetics and positions developing in the field of contemporary art. Conceptual art gave me the chance to talk louder and announce my ideas and position, drawn from my life experience. My practice follows the direction of ‘Military Art’ founded in Armenia by Alexander Melkonyan, and my first steps were made with his help.

Using strategies of performative actions and the re-appropriation of military artifacts and aesthetics, Military Art stands in resistance to the violence and domination of hegemonic power. War is the part of life where traditions have been formed in extreme conditions at the edge of life and death. Military Art draws upon existential philosophy to perceive the world through military “culture” and “aesthetics”. By studying war, artists might find the way to disrupt and dismantle the military thinking that continues to control our world.

Military Art complexifies the binaries of war and peace, moral and immoral, good and evil, and recognises the manipulations that limit knowledge and shrink perspectives. In other words I am calling it ‘The Art for Defense’.

Our former religious and political utopias have failed, but we have yet to attempt a spiritual utopia… In my work I seek to trouble hierarchies and I assume the possibility of horizontal, rhizomatic communities.

I consider human beings the utmost culture in this world, with ‘godlike’ idea, dreaming soul and inner emotional world. In my work I am searching for a New Utopia of humanity, where love and creative souls thrive”


Mkrtich Tonoyan is an Armenian artist, cultural manager, co-founder and current president of the AKOS Cultural NGO, founder of the ‘Art Centre of Social Studies’ (ACOSS) international artists-in-residence program (2006), and co-founder of the ‘Microresidence’ worldwide network of artists residencies, based in Japan. 

In early 90s Tonoyan participated in the Karabakh War, experiencing all the horrors and suffering of death, destruction, injury and despair, events that continue to have profound impact on the direction of his creative and social practice. Tonoyan turned to contemporary art as a space of possibility to address crisis and change in all its dimensions: personal, political, ideological and social. He works in a new direction of conceptual art, called ‘Military Art’, developed by Alexander Melkonyan. Tonoyan has worked closely with Alexander in Military Art projects and continues to develop Military Art as a mean to shed light on the brutality of war.

Opening night Friday 5 May, 17.00–22.00.
During the evening there will be performances and music and intense discussions.

Mkrtich Tonoyan is invited by Johan von Schreeb, johan[at]candyland.se.
I samband med utställningen anordnas ‘War and Art – a conversation’ i samarbete med Centrum för hälsokriser vid Karolinska Institutet.

Candylands utställningsprogram stöds av Statens Kulturråd och Stockholms stad.





Mkrtich Tonoyan deltar med ACOSS, Yerevan i SUPERMARKET – Stockholm Independent Art Fair 2023. Stadsgårdsterminalen 11–14 maj. 
CANDYLAND kommer att visa det belarusiska fotoprojektet ”Herbarium of Female Protest” av Eva Yarrow (pseudonym).
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