Thursday through Saturday, February 22-24, 2024
In-Person at the University of Southern California. Register here.
Photo: Serjei Parajanov Museum courtyard. June 16, 2023. Image by Silva Sevlian.
In his interview with Ron Holloway, Parajanov proclaimed that he was a chimera, a being inscrutable to others but also uniquely able to look ahead and beyond all constraints. The chimera, a mythological figure comprising parts of different bodies, emblematizes both the possibilities of imagination and the impossibility of categorization and control. It poses a challenge to homogeneity, fixity, swift legibility and intelligibility by re-constellating the known to produce aesthetic wonders that are always in excess of the sensible. A slap in the face of propriety and pure reason, a blow to scientific and epistemological certainty, the chimera boldly transcends limiting constructions and strictures. And for those very same reasons, the chimera is often subject to suspicion, fear, and persecution.
Drawing inspiration from Parajanov’s description of himself as a chimera, this centennial conference aims to examine the myriad border crossings and hybridities that characterize his life and oeuvre.
Born January 9, 1924 in Tbilisi, Georgia to Armenian parents, Parajanov worked at Dovzhenko Film Studio, Armenfil’m, and Georgia Film Studio, all while navigating the complexities of the Soviet film industry. While his early work can be said to fit the requirements of socialist realism, Parajanov’s later films mark a radical departure from the dominant culture.
Mining a variety of folkloric, literary, artistic, and cinematic traditions, the auteur’s filmic worlds resist spatial and temporal determinacy as well as national and imperial borders. While the painterly quality of his cinema stalls the sense of temporal progression in his films, it simultaneously proposes alternative sources of dynamism. A playful variation on the paradoxical coexistence of stillness and motion in cinema, Parajanov’s tableaux invite the spectator’s wandering gaze to explore the exuberance of each frame, treasure the movement within each shot and observe inanimate objects come to life with the help of editing and sound.
Through the multiplicity of both spatial and temporal points of view offered by the inverted perspective, the filmmaker’s images do not only challenge the distinction between passive and active spectatorship, immobile subjects and moving objects, but posit the impossibility of a coherent subject altogether as they reveal the fluidity of such constructs as ethnicity, gender, and agency.
Click here for the preliminary program.
USC Dornsife Institute of Armenian Studies
USC Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
USC School of Cinematic Arts
USC Levan Institute
USC Department of Art History
Dornsife Divisional Dean for Humanities
Dornsife Divisional Dean for Social Sciences
USC Department of Political Science and International Relations
USC Center for International Studies
USC Cinema and Media Studies
USC Department of Comparative Literature
National Association for Armenian Studies Research (NAASR)
Armenian Film Society