Close Up

8 - 10 March 2019: Sergei Parajanov: Reminiscence


Reminiscence is a visual arts programme running parallel to the Sergei Parajanov film retrospective at Close-Up. The programme brings together artists and individuals reminiscing about and celebrating the oeuvre of the great filmmaker. Live performances, video installations and talks will populate the cinematic space and extend the film programme beyond its boundaries.

Sergei Parajanov, the internationally renowned filmmaker, was born into an Armenian family in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where he spent most of his life in an old part of this ancient trading town. Parajanov was a performer and a visual artist who lived an extraordinary life; albeit not an easy one – as if he were a protagonist of his own films. He was a man of imagination and generosity, who traded ubiquitously – always passing on not only objects, but also his inspiration.

There are many accounts of Parajanov’s interests. Inspired by appearances, vagabonds and legends he loved all sorts of bric-a-brac or found objects; he was an eager collector but also a giver. His door was open to all kinds of wanderers, including thieves and travellers, artists and filmmakers. No one who visited him left without a gift. Many items found on his strolls ended up in his films and in his collages. He would allegedly tell his guests that he had Mastroianni’s jacket, or Tarkovsky’s scarf, Mayakovsky’s hat and so on…

While Parajanov was well known for his generosity to others, he himself was often short of money. As a result, he often lacked the appropriate wardrobe for formal occasions. As the story goes, he was once visiting Paris to attend an awards ceremony, and decided to look for a smoking jacket at a flea market - to no avail. He eventually came across a "No Smoking" sign, which he wore instead of a jacket when he went up on stage. 

Reminiscence 1: Film and Video Installations

Questions and Answers (Q&A)
Sophio Medoidze, 2012, 4 min

Sophio Medoidze’s short film Questions and Answers, will be screened on loop. The film points to a dreamlike experience using the stream of consciousness technique, while bashing sounds and images against each other. Repetitions and language slippages create their own narrative logic or unlogic.

Pān-toh Supra
Andro Semeiko & Yu-Chen Wang, 2017

Andro Semeiko and Yu-Chen Wang will present their collaborative film installation Pān-toh Supra, inspired by Georgian Supra (feast), Taiwanese Pān-toh (banquet) and Sergei Parajanov’s aesthetics and ideas. The work portrays an experience of social gathering, food sharing and the art of toasting led by the figure of a Tamada (the toast master); and explores socio-political dynamics of inclusion and exclusion of the other.

Kinto Dreams
Uta Bekaia, 2017

Uta Bekaia will also present his three-channel video Kinto Dreams (courtesy of ERTI gallery), which will be on view throughout the weekend.

Reminiscence 2: Yuri Mechitov in conversation

Yuri Mechitov, a close friend of Parajanov and the photographer behind some of his most iconic portraits, will be in conversation with the director of the Georgian Film Festival in London, Jason Osborn alongside film critic and curator, James Norton.

Reminiscence 3: Mamuka Japharidze

In homage to Parajanov, contemporary artist Mamuka Japharidze has designed a Paraja – a Georgian over-garment that plays with word association. Made from a Caucasian rug, the Paraja represents the artists’ shared delight in word play and syllogisms. Wearing his Paraja Japharidze will host a site-specific performance in the courtyard of the cinema, offering visitors the opportunity to sample Majika, a smoked chilli pepper relish created by the artist. He will also show still-life images of the original Majika peppers.

Reminiscence 4: Uta Bekaia

Multimedia artist Uta Bekaia will create tableau vivants inspired by iconic images from Parajanov’s films. The sculptures will be activated by street performers, who will join the crowds in the bustling market of Brick Lane.

Reminiscence 5: Panel Discussion

Gareth Evans moderates a conversation with Uta Bekaia, Mamuka Japharidze, Sophio Medoidze and Andro Semeiko.

This programme has been curated by Keti Japaridze and Lika Tarkhan-Mouravi. It is kindly supported by cARTveli Art Foundation, Georgian Airways and Life Through Cinema.

Uta Bekaia is a multimedia artist working between New York and Tbilisi. He creates performances and installations inhabited by wearable sculptures, which explore his historical and cultural background, genetic codes and cycles of the universe.

Mamuka Japharidze is an artist and educator living between Tbilisi and Bristol. He and his partner have developed a re-wilding project on land outside Tbilisi. An important aspect of the project is the Field Academy, an informal educational attitutde open to all.

Sophio Medoidze is an artist and filmmaker. She was born in USSR, brought up in the Republic of Georgia and lives in London. She works with film, photography, text and sculpture, and for a time, she worked anonymously as part of the Clara Emigrand collective. Her work is marked by precarity and explores the poetic potential of uncertainty.

Yuri Mechitov is a Tbilisi based photographer and educator. He held his first exhibition in 1979, in Tbilisi. Mechitov works predominantly with analogue photography. He has published several books and his works have been exhibited worldwide.

Andro Semeiko and Yu-Chen Wang are London based artists who occasionally collaborate. Andro Semeiko constructs multi-layered narrative installations based on his practice as a painter. Yu-Chen Wang uses film and drawing to ask fundamental questions about human identity at a moment where ecosystems and techno-systems have become inextricably intertwined.

cARTveli Art Foundation was established in London in 2013 to promote Georgian contemporary art in the UK. More info:

Part of our Close-Up on Sergei Parajanov