Radka Rubilina: Stone Symphony / Death of a Hen, Armenia 2013
You cannot overlook them already in the capitol city, which is so unsuitable for riding a bike; and not only because of the quick-tempered car and truck drivers. It is mainly because of all those ever present bumps and inclines, steep valleys and rock walls, which rip the city up into pieces.
Outside of the city, their large number is breath taking. Roads are cutting through steep valleys and lovers of winding roads can enjoy crazy driving without crash barriers, warning signs, and frequently also without the asphalt. They are everywhere; they covered fields, meadows, initiating the formation of semi-desert: a barren, burned by sunlight, dusty land with a dark, somber color - after the stones.
Stone – for the Armenians, a symbol of faith, cohesiveness, and defense. The Armenians are reserved and introverted, strong despite their uneasy historical fate. If anywhere in the world a stone could speak, have your ears ready right here! In monastery Godhard, built in a piece of rock, the stones can even breathe. There is no one painting, one color, which could diminish the ultimate color of the stones. Decorations are engraved directly into the rock, ornaments are standing out from the walls, illuminated only by a flickering light coming from candles.
A road toward the monastery goes through a valley called Stone Symphony. There, around a turning stream, endless rows of basalt flutes are played by wind, like flutes of an organ would be played in church, only turned on to its sound by surprised eye of traveler.
“Who is living in those holes in the rock, mom?” a boy asked. “Hermits.” “And why, mom?” “If you need to think about something, you come here, to the rock; you sleep here, pray here, and think. And then, you go back to be with people again.” I am holding the boy’s hand and observing a woman in leather jacket how she pulls a plastic bag over a hen’s head and then a dirty scarf over it. The hen’s body is already motionless; and then the woman cuts off the hen’s claws, one after another, with a dull knife. Standing next to her, two young girls with snow boots and furry coats on are talking about their Sunday plans. A singing sound started to blow from the monastery; the Mass started. Today, the hermits will have a chicken soup for a lunch, cooked by a gentle woman’s hand.
More pictures from the stony Armenia here