Artist Lucie Khahoutian is interested in bringing to light her native Armenia by drawing on both traditional and contemporary imagery. As one of seven artists that make up Live Wild, a female-led collective of digital collagists, she's used to combining materials from disparate sources. Her latest photo project With All This Darkness Round Me I Feel Less Alone (2017) is a move away from her usual collages made from found images. Nevertheless, it's a whimsical merging of imagery, taking influence from the films of Soviet Armenian director Sergei Paradjanov and Samuel Beckett's 1957 play Endgame.
“Because the idea of this work was initiated by a play, it was clear to me that the whole story had to be performed and had to be staged. Almost purposely too staged in order to emphasise the fact that we are narrating a fictive story,” Khahoutian explains.
The staged performance takes place in and around one room. The starting point for the series was the relationship between seclusion and insanity, which the artist envisions as a folk tale with the use of costumes and textiles, adorned with traditional Caucasian patterns, and two characters engaged in what appears to be a marriage ceremony.
“Nothing is random in the composition of these images,” the artist adds. “I wanted to demystify the institution of marriage and highlight the fact that it could, instead of creating a beautiful union, weaken both parties. After marriage, women are often asked to take care of the house, to have kids and then educate them, and to me this is total alienation.”
As with all of Khahoutian's work, Armenia is a major source of inspiration for the series and has much to do with her choice of theme. “Armenia is, I think, a very secluded country. It doesn't communicate much with the rest of the world, and there is no real exchange, both ways. Economical, cultural, political, it's quite strange how little we're part of the world, as a whole, compared to other countries. I think sanity also comes from the exchange we have with others, as well as open mindedness,” Khahoutian reflects.
See more photos from the series here.