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Ara Oshagan September 10, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Armenia.
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St. Gazantchetsots Church, Shushi, Nagorno-Karabagh, 2002

Ara Oshagan (b. 1964, Lebanon) is a photographer whose work revolves around the intersecting themes of identity, community, and memory. His first book, “Father Land” was published by PowerHouse books in 2010.  “A Poor Imitation of Death”, about the lives of youth in the California prison system, will be published by Umbrage books in the near future. Ara has had solo exhibitions at the LA Municipal Art Gallery, Downey Museum of Art and Power House Arena in New York. His work has been featured in Mother Jones, the Times Literary Supplement in London, LA Times, LA Weekly and on NPR’s Morning Edition and is in the permanent collection of the Southeast Museum of Photography, the Pasadena Armory Center for the Arts, and the MOCA in Armenia.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is the cover of my book, Father Land and was photographed in Nagorno-Karabagh–a remote, politically turbulent and unrecognized Armenian region of the former Soviet Union. A decade-long project, the work is about this ancient place but it is also about my own diaspora and identity—an Armenian living in Los Angeles and returning to the land of his forefathers for the first time. The work is about my relationship to a distant past and my ambiguous place in the continuum of history. The cover photo brings together many of the elements that underlie this work—land, faith and culture (as represented by the church), the act of witness (as represented by the kids staring at the viewer) and folded into its structure and composition is the core issue—the ambiguity of belonging and my relationship to this place and my own past.”

Karen Mirzoyan July 22, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Armenia.
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Yezidis Children Study Ezdiki Language , Armenia. 2007

Karen Mirzoyan (Tbilisi, Georgia b. 1981) relocated to Armenia in 1992. He graduated from the Yerevan State Linguistic University. Karen participated in the photojournalism class organized by World Press Photo and Caucasus Media Institute in 2005 followed by an internship with Panos Pictures Agency and The Independent newspaper in London. He is currently teaching photojournalism in the Caucasus Media Institute. Karen’s photos have been published in: Geo (Italy), Associated Press Ogonyok, (Russia), Russian Reporter CNN.com, CBS news, amongst others. He is currently working with the Anzenberger Agency in Austria.

About the Photograph:

The Yezidis are a minority group in Armenia, part of a population that extends through Turkey, Georgia, Syria and Iraq. Many live a semi-nomadic life, as they have done for thousands of years, tending sheep and spending winter months in their villages, then moving to high mountain pastures in the spring, where today they live in old Soviet military tents. Yezidis practice a secretive and ancient religion, which predates Islam and appears to fuse aspects of Judaic, Zoroastrian and other local beliefs. Some controversy surrounds their identity. During the Soviet era, Yezidis were classified as non-Muslim Kurds. With the rise of national self-consciousness through the region in the 1980s, a revival of Yezidi identity occurred, and in 1989 the Armenian government declared them to be a separate ethnic group. Yet there remain strong divisions on issues of identity among the Yezidi themselves.

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