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13.6.14

Parajanov and Russian Heritage Month in New York

Sergei Parajanov's work will be exhibited as part of the 12th annual Russian Heritage Month in New York from June 17 – July 10. This piece of news has angered a number of Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora, who point out that Parajanov, who was born in Tbilisi of Armenian parents and died in Yerevan, was not Russian and should not be represented as such.(*) Users on Facebook wrote that it was during the years of the Soviet Union that successful artists and scientists from the 15 republics were represented as Russian, and this practice shouldn't be allowed to continue after the republics achieved independence.

A number of Armenians living in the United States urged Diasporan Armenian organizations not to allow the screening of Parajanov's films, especially since Parajanov's being Armenian is not stated anywhere on the event poster. Also a cause for discontent is the fact that the event has the support of the Sergei Parajanov Museum in Yerevan, as well as that of the First Lady of the Republic of Armenia, Rita Sargsyan.
This wave of discontent, however, is incomprehensible for Sergei Parajanov Museum Deputy Director Vigen Barkhudaryan. In conversation with Epress.am, he said: "They have a very wrong understanding. No one is saying that Parajanov is not Armenian. But his art belongs to the entire world. Armenians would look at his paintings and didn't understand: later the world had an appreciation of him. Now organizing a separate exhibit didn't work out; it worked out within the scope of Russian days. What's wrong with that?"
He assured that there is no cause for concern, as such events happen often. The deputy museum director recalled how at the Cannes Film Festival Ukraine declared that it was representing Parajanov's film Sayat-Nova (**), though, Barkhudaryan said, that wasn't the case.
"Parajanov lived part of his life in Russia (***) and had a lot of Russian friends. We got the invitation to participate in the days of culture from Russia, and we agreed," he concluded.

epress.am, June 13, 2014

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(*) "Sergei Parajanov was always hard to define, but he was best summed up as 'an Armenian born in Georgia and put in a Russian prison for Ukrainian nationalism,' and as one of Soviet film’s creative geniuses" (Eugenia Sokolskaya, "The Many Homelands of Sergei Parajanov," Russian Life, January 7, 2014).
(**) "Sayat-Nova" ("The Color of Pomegranate," 1969) was filmed in the Armenfilm studios of Yerevan.
(***) "In 1945, he traveled to Moscow, enrolled in the directing department at the VGIK, one of the oldest and highly respected film schools in Europe, and studied under the tutelage of directors Igor Savchenko and Aleksandr Dovzhenko. (...)
In 1950 Parajanov married his first wife, Nigyar Kerimova, in Moscow. She came from a Muslim Tatar family and converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity to marry Parajanov. She was later murdered by her relatives because of her conversion. After her murder Parajanov left Russia for Kiev, Ukraine (...)." Afterwards, Parajanov lived in Kiev, Yerevan, and after his imprisonment in a Russian prison, Tbilisi, and back in Yerevan until his death. According to the above quote from "Wikipedia," he lived approximately six of his sixty-six years of life in Russia, discounting his prison years. ("Armeniaca").

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