New East Digital Archive
Post-internet art
Cut and paste
An Armenian collagist rips up the rule book

Yerevan-based artist Lucie Khahoutian turns personal photos, old postcards and images she finds on the internet into beautifully ornate digital folktales. The Armenian collagist began collating materials at an early age, using old Armenian newspapers and illustrations while she was at school. “I like the idea of mixing images that come from different places yet find an echo in harmony when gathered together,” the collagist says.

With Pomegranate, she tells her story as well as that of her native country. The series was made last year for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and is a tribute to Georgian-born Armenian visionary Sergei Paradjanov — the Soviet era’s most controversial director. Khahoutian’s dazzling and dreamy imagery takes after Paradjanov’s cinematic masterpiece The Colour of Pomegranates. “I am very attached to the idea of bringing light on Armenia, Armenian artists and our cultural scene. We’re still a very unknown country for many, many people and are associated with genocide at worst or apricot jam at best.”

I like the encounter of the digital, technological, contemporary world and very traditional, symbolic and religious imagery

Khahoutian says that her home was one of the first in her neighbourhood to have access to the internet. “I quickly became interested in the digital arts and realised I could work on my collages digitally. Then I discovered animated images and absolutely loved it, it made absolute sense to me and was somehow an extension of collages. I like the encounter of the digital, technological, contemporary world and a very traditional, symbolic and religious imagery. I believe it works and make total sense as our country, and our neighbour Georgia, are both experiencing transitions. We are very traditional and conservative countries, yet we are opening up to the world and assimilating new influences, ways to live and to think. These cultural encounters are a form of collage.”

Cultural encounters are at the centre of LIVE WILD, an online collective of female artist and photographers who all use collage in different ways, which Khahoutian is part of. Spanning from Canada to Russia, its members have ammassed a shared archive of images. “I am currently working on a series of GIFs with Charlotte Fos (a fellow artist from the collective) and find similarities between the layers of the GIF and the layers of collages.”