Golden Apricot International Film Festival Revolutionizes the Classic Red Carpet Ritual with Unique Handwoven Contemporary Armenian Carpets

News /Eng
This year’s 21st Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival (GAIFF) debuts a contemporary red carpet ritual featuring exclusive designs by contemporary Armenian visual artist Davit Kochunts. Composed of 7 unique carpets curated by Nairi Khatchadourian, the contemporary red carpet collection entitled "Point of Reference" is produced by the Yerevan-based artistic practice AHA collective, redefining tradition and breaking away from glamor. Handwoven by women weavers from Goris Handmade and Woolway Studio, the collection translates topographical maps of Artsakh, one of the cradles of Armenian carpet making. The collection is an exciting result of the collaboration between GAIFF, AHA collective, and ARARAT Museum.

During the opening ceremony, one of the seven carpets was gifted to Alexander Payne, President of GAIFF’s International Film Competition Jury, winner of two Academy Awards.

"Breaking a tradition is, of course, a difficult decision, especially one with a history older than all the film festivals in the world. Nonetheless, the creation of a new tradition gives even more strength than saying goodbye to a powerful tradition", states GAIFF festival director and artistic director, Karen Avetisyan.

The art of carpet is one of the most significant expressions of Armenian culture, with its centuries-old history, craftsmanship, and high international recognition. I am pleased that since 2023, AHA Collective and Davit Kochunts have begun to bring contemporary content and new forms to the Armenian art of carpet through collaboration with women weavers. It is important that both the craft and the designs continuously evolve and reflect current realities. In this way, new cultural discourses will form in society, and a deeper connection will be made between the past and the present”, states art historian, curator, and founder of AHA Collective, Nairi Khatchadourian.

"Cinema is very important to me. My connection with cinema serves as the foundation from which I draw inspiration. Golden Apricot is the largest film festival in Armenia, during which different people and different guests walk through. Carpet is one of the best media to have influence from and to deconstruct thoughts and styles, from which I never renounce when creating", shares artist Davit Kochunts, designer of the “Point of the Reference” collection.

Similar projects provide an opportunity for the forgotten craft to live a renaissance and engage especially young creators. The Woolway Studio team took part in the realization of the idea with the greatest responsibility. I hope that this idea will break many stereotypes and give Armenian artists the opportunity to create freely and more boldly" says Mariam Nalbandian, senior carpet restorer at Woolway studio, folk craftswoman of the Republic of Armenia.

"Participating in such a beautiful and important film festival and having my own input in such a bold and gorgeous work is an honor for me. Having a small part in these historical carpets, which are connected with my homeland, Artsakh is extremely significant and touching. I was imagining myself there while weaving each strand; they led me to Artsakh. It’s an indescribable feeling. Carpets that take an individual to Artsakh is like a flying carpet telling the story of Artsakh so that Artsakh is not forgotten", shares Shushi-born carpet weaver Milena Ordiyants.

Let’s also mention that as an introduction to this contemporary red carpet launch, ARARAT Museum, in collaboration with the Golden Apricot International Film Festival and AHA Collective, presents an exhibition of AHA collective’s first contemporary carpet collection “Bold Khndzoresk” designed by Davit Kochunts and curated by Nairi Khatchadourian.

The "Bold Khndzoresk" exhibition explores the art of Armenian carpet weaving within a local, architectural, and natural context. Featuring expressive photographs by Piruza Khalapyan, the exhibition will be on display at the ARARAT Museum until August 1.