Janusz Gazda

Paradjanov's Collage

Sergei Paradjanov, aka. Sergei Parajanov, was born Sarkis Paradjanian to Armenian parents in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1924 and studied film under Soviet director Alexander Dovzhenko. He died on 21st July 1990. The following is an excerpt from an article found in the Kwartalnik filmowy collection, pp. 265-267. Learn more about Parajanov at [ hal-pc | filmref | parajanov.com ]. See also [ Letters to the Zone ].

They [AT and Paradjanov] saw each other very rarely but according to those close to them these meetings were an important and ceremonial matter. I know of a partial account of one such meeting.

This was still before Paradjanov's arrest at the time he lived in Kiev, so it was probably sometime in the late '60s. Tarkovsky had announced his arrival by telephone just on the day Paradjanov's rooms were being renovated. Paradjanov paid great attention to the manner in which he received in his home people for whom he felt particular esteem and sympathy. And receiving guests in general — just like making films or preparing collages — was for him the sort of undertaking that required both a physical effort as well as an effort of imagination. Not only because he always wanted to "prepare the table" in a special way depending on the occasion and the time of the year (and there was always a touch of poetry in this "preparing the table"); but also because receiving guests as he saw it was a kind of theatre of which he was the director and the main actor. But that was no spectacle for its own sake, there was always a hidden thought behind it.

Paradjanov had many friends in many circles and as there happened to be a circus across the street from his home, he became friends with the wild animal trainer there. With his empty rooms and no furniture yet desiring to set up an appropriate "dressing" for the meeting with Andrei Tarkovsky, Paradjanov asked the trainer to bring over several sacks of sawdust and a pony. [...]

In any event, years later when he himself had the hell of the gulag behind him he told Tarkovsky: "You are my great friend but there might be something lacking in your art, and it's that you haven't spent at least a year in Soviet prison. Being in total darkness, hungry, and full of lice, man begins to think differently about the universe, to experience differently the sunlight, life."

So this was the scenery: an almost empty room, walls freshly painted white, the sawdust on the floor, the live pony tied to the radiator. The host had covered the oak table with white French lace from Chantilly and he put on top a silver cup he named "Potocki's chalice". And here he is pouring red wine from a very old Georgian bottle into "Potocki's chalice". Tarkovsky enters. Paradjanov lifts his gaze but he doesn't stop pouring the wine which overflows and begins to spread in a red stain over the white sheet. "Sergei Iosifovich, what are you doing?!", cries Tarkovsky, "You've ruined the tablecloth!" "Yes I know", Paradjanov answers, "but you are dearer to me than the tablecloth from Chantilly".

Later, after his release from prison, in Tbilisi, Paradjanov prepared a collage — it's not known whether this was before or already after Tarkovsky's passing away — based on a photograph showing them both together. He kept the collage displayed prominently in his Tbilisi home.  end block

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