Born in Armenia, Artavazd Pelechian created most of his work in Moscow between 1964 and 1993. Over the course of nearly thirty years, in the heart of the Soviet system, he made nine uniquely crafted films, composed of documentary images. Taken from archives and actual footage shot by the filmmaker, these images were reworked and edited together, using a technique that he called “distance montage,” to produce veritable visual poems that escape the classical distinction between fiction and documentary. His style, devoid of any narration, subtly places image and sound on equal footing. A cinema of emotion, without dialogue, actors, or storylines, his work takes an incisive yet empathetic look at the human condition.
I am convinced that cinema can convey certain things that no language in the world can translate. For me, it goes back to the Tower of Babel, to before the division into different languages.Artavazd Pelechian
While it was long thought that his filmography had concluded with the film Life in 1993, Pelechian has now returned with a new film, simply titled Nature, through which he once again observes the delicate cohabitation of human communities with their environment—a central theme in his work. The images composing the film—mainly amateur footage gathered from the internet—are fragile traces shot in the midst of nature and its turmoil. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis form the film’s visual fabric, and are set against images of grandiose natural landscapes. A visual elegy, the film resolutely acknowledges nature’s superiority, which is capable of taming all human ambition. With this, the filmmaker seems to remind us that humankind will not emerge victorious from the ecological havoc that it has created.
Alongside the screening of this film-event, the Fondation Cartier is offering the chance to rediscover one of the gems of Pelechian’s filmography: The Seasons. His musical approach to film editing reaches new heights of intensity with this film. It depicts a community of Armenian peasants, revealing the symbiotic bond connecting them to the natural environment in which they live and work. The Seasons provides a striking contrast to the end-of-days visions of Nature, in a dialogue that deeply resonates with the challenges of our time.
Curators : Hervé Chandès and Thomas Delamarre, assisted by Sidney Gérard
Partners of the film "Nature":
With the participation of the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
With the support of the Folk Arts Hub Foundation