Textil Zone Project Image


Hommage to Shirak Textile Factory

As part of the international
06.- 23.06.2023 in Ruhrgebiet | link

Re-create life out of ruins, re-create a sound-portrait of a textile factory, located in Gyumri, also known as the “city of masters”. This factory, as a personality, has a hard biography of its collapse in 1988 during an earthquake followed by the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Once in operation for more than 60 years, the factory is in a condition of abandoned ruins. This mystical space as a Zone (referenced to the zone in the film Stalker by Andrey Tarkovsky) has a sacral meaning and contains a multilayered collage of voices. Where human speech emerged with the sound of motors of textile machines. And the sound of wind, from abandaned ruins, are in conversation with spirits of the proletarians.

The composition aims to recycle memory and meaning to develop a new sound image of a forgotten space. It is based on archival laudatory recordings of the pre-earthquake factory, as well as present-day recordings. Further essential parts of it are the onomatopoeic memories of the people about the combine and interviews with witnesses of the time, who share with us their personal stories related to the site:

"Today I turn 88 and Gayan is 83. Of course I remember. We moved here, to Textile College from the Pambak orphanage, when I was 11. And since 1942 we've been working at the Combine. We still go to work every day, to our textile factory, to walk around the ruins and to collect fruits to survive…“

“We talked to each other with whistles or shouts. There was a lot of noise like chkhka-chkhka, we didn't hear each other, it's good that we are not deaf ․․․"

"During the war, we worked 12 hours a day with a half-hour break for 6 days. We arrived at 7 am and came home at 7 pm after hearing the shift-change-sound. When the war ended in 1945, in 1950 we were given 15 days of vacation for the first time. I remember, the young people picked grass, brought it and put it on our machines, they said, oh mother, why don't you stop your machines․․․”

"Lately I was sleeping on the stone in the Textile Factory, woke up and thought, "Oh, my machine is left, oh, my machine has been upside down."

Fragment from Interview with manufacturers Clara and Gayane, recorded by Maria Matinyan in Gyumri 2019. Archival materials were kindly provided by the Shirak Regional Library, as well as by personal archives of ex-manufacturers’ families. Thanks to Gohar Martirosyan, Anush Zeinalyan, Liana Nersisyan, Vardan Harutyunyan and all the others who supported me during my Soundlab Artist Residency in Gyumri 2019.