​Artavazd Pelechian, Nature, 2020 - Stills from the movie © Artavazd Pelechian​

The exhibition in detail

Tadanori Yokoo, Portrait of Artavadz Pelechian, 2005. Collection of the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris. © Tanadori Yokoo. Photo © Norihiro Ueno

Born in 1938 in Armenia, Artavazd Pelechian held various jobs before settling in Moscow in 1963 to study film. For him, this universal language “can convey certain things that no language in the world is capable of translating.

In the world of cinema, Pelechian is at once acclaimed and unknown as a director. He has a highly distinctive way of making his films, without actors or dialogue. His films (The Beginning, We, Inhabitants, The Seasons, Our Century, End, Life) recount the grandeur, hopes and tumults of the history of humanity. Their editing is highly unusual. Pelechian invented “distance montage”, a technique enhancing the force of his films. The filmmaker also gives great weight to music: he considers sound and image to be equally important. He uses classical music above all: the variety of orchestral instruments bring power to his films.

This exhibition features two of his works: The Seasons (1975) and Nature (2020). While the first film is serene, illustrating the harmony between people and their environment, the second depicts nature as an overpowering force that can grow enraged and turn dangerous for humans.

​Artavazd Pelechian, "Nature", 2020 - Stills from the film © Artavazd Pelechian​

The following film contains material that may be disturbing for a young audience.

A succession of sequences shows nature as both violent and majestic, with humanity’s resources seemingly powerless to respond to the destructive forces rocking the Earth. Here, Pelechian depicts these movements and moods of our planet.

In this dance of the elements, rare moments of serenity come in the midst of a series of destructive events: lava geysers, volcanic scoria raining down, giant waves, trees being ripped from the ground, buildings collapsing, and more. The violence of these images is mirrored in the music and sound effects, and we are left dumbfounded by this work, which seems to forecast a dark future for humanity.

Artavazd Pelechian, "The Seasons", stills from the film, 2020. © Artavazd Pelechian. DR

In contrast with his most recent film, Nature, The Seasons describes the harmony between humans and the land that provides for them, with respect for the cycle of the seasons. Certain shots recur throughout the film, in keeping with his technique of distance montage, seeming to echo the repetition of the peasants' daily gestures.

As always, Pelechian places great importance on sound in this film without dialogue. He chose a well-known piece by the composer Antonio Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, to accompany the rhythm of the Armenian shepherds. Through his camera, every gesture seems to turn into a dance.


  • Editing: in a film, the assembly of images and scenes in a particular order.
  • Distance montage: in editing, a technique consisting in spacing out important sequences of a film to enhance their significance. In a single film, certain images may recur several times, with the spaced-out images dialoguing via the insertion of other shots.
  • Volcanic scoria: light, cooled, broken-up lava.
  • Dumbfounded: dizzy with surprise, astonished, stunned.