Designer of Copenhagen sculpture commemorating the Armenian Genocide writes letter to Erdogan

Designer of Copenhagen sculpture commemorating the Armenian Genocide writes letter to Erdogan –

Plans to install a sculpture commemorating the Armenian Genocide in one of Copenhagen’s busiest squares have Turkish officials up in arms.

A sculpture that will be placed in the heart of Copenhagen in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide threatens to further derail the already-strained relations between Denmark and Turkey

 The nine-metre high sculpture, entitled ‘The Draem’ (Danish Remembrance Armenian Empathy Messenger), is to be placed in the square Kultorvet for ten days in May to mark 100 years since upwards of 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman regime. 

 The plans have elicited a protest from the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen.

 Allen Sayegh is an architect and a professor at Harvard University and is the chief designer of the sculpture in Copenhagen that is causing a stir with Turkey. He wrote an open letter to the president of Turkey for their reaction. 

 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Presidential Palace, 06560,



Dear Honorable President Erdoğan,

 You probably do not know me but some in your government are apparently furious about one of my urban interventions in downtown Copenhagen. Most will not empathize with this sentiment of fury and I also am unable to do so. Let me briefly explain.

 I am an architect living in Cambridge, US. My studio INVIVIA was commissioned for this piece in downtown Copenhagen. The piece coincides with the centennial of the systematic mass killings and the death marches of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. Our goal was to stay away from politics and we gave it a poetic name, calling it the ‘The DRAEM’ (pronounced “The Dream”) ‒ it is an unresolved dream. It also stands for Danish Remembrance Armenian Empathy Messenger. It is an interactive urban piece in the peaceful downtown of Copenhagen that engages the urban space and emulates the notion of collective empathy.

 I leave it to politicians, historians and psychologists to analyze why a country would be so upset about an interactive urban sculpture. But in a 21st century civilized society, I would like to echo the reaction of Carl Christian Ebbesen (from the Copenhagen Municipality) to the Turkish government reaction and stress the importance of freedom of art and freedom of speech.

 Mr. President, it has been one hundred long years and it is time for empathy.

 Yours truly,

Allen Sayegh

 Cambridge MA 

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