Marianna Hovhannisyan is a research-based curator, currently pursuing her PhD degree in Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the Visual Arts Dept., UC San Diego. She works at the intersection of visual culture and contemporary art with the focus on the critical museum and archival studies that converge at the politics of metadata, postcolonial theories, memory studies, and new historiographies. Currently, she is developing Curating Archives, Curating Slippages project awarded a research grant by the Critical Refugee Studies Collective (2019). The project is supervised in the scope of Center for Information as Evidence, GSEIS Dept., Archives and Information Studies, UC Los Angeles.

Hovhannisyan has explored archives as conflicted sites in nation-state building narratives by uncovering ‘unattended’ objects and scripting ontological and geopolitical gaps. Her exhibitions align the curatorial work with the research. Particularly, she has developed an ongoing research that both registers and activates absences with “Armenian” (national, post-/Soviet, Eastern/Western, “native minority,” refugee, or diasporic). Such concerns are reflected in her 2016 curatorial exhibition, Empty Fields (exhibition design by artist Fareed Armaly), commissioned by SALT Cultural Center, Istanbul. The exhibition was originated from her research in the American Board Archives in Istanbul reflecting on the contemporary agency of the available content by uncovering the dispersed natural science collection of the mission-led Museum of Anatolia College and the forgotten legacy of its curator, Armenian-German scientist, Genocide-survivor Prof. Johannes “John” Jacob Manissadjian.

Another key project is Archive-Practice, a collection of artifacts and interviews mapping post-Soviet contemporary art dynamics of the independence period.  Other curatorial works include: 2012— exhibition (Gyumri International Biennale, Armenia, 2012); collaborative projects and co-curatorial contributions include A Step Aside exhibition (Angle Art Contemporain gallery for Lyon Biennale, France, 2011), A Journey the East exhibition (Arsenale gallery, Poland, 2011), or Soviet AgitArt. Restoration  exhibition (BM SUMA Contemporary Art Center, Turkey, 2008). Since 2017 she is the caretaker of the art works and archives of the contemporary artist Samvel Baghdasaryan (1956–2017), a member of the first Independence generation in post-Soviet Armenia.

Recent research and curatorial fellowships include the Critical Refugee Studies Collective award,  Getty Consortium Seminar, the first EU-funded Armenia-Turkey Fellowship by Hrant Dink Foundation, Kadist Art Foundation; recent talks—UCLA GSEIS graduate seminars. 

Hovhannisyan holds an MA degree in Global Arts at the Visual Cultures Dept., Goldsmiths, University of London (2013–14) and a BA degree in Art Knowledge from the Dept. of Fine Arts, Armenian Open University (2003–07). She is a member of AICA-Armenia.