by Ara Oshagan
Text by Vahé Oshagan
Photography / Armenian Studies
11.5 x 10.25 inches
75 duotone photographs
Father Land by Vahé and Ara Oshagan is a poetic and personal journey through the rugged, human-and-history-laden landscape of Karabagh. It is also a unique collaboration between a photographer son and his famous, writer father. A family steeped in Armenian literature and art, Vahé and Ara Oshagan’s work is the result of an intensely felt connection to their heritage and homeland. Father Land is a literary and visual contemplation of Karabagh’s present-day, its history, and its culture, as well as a meditation on transnational identity, land, and paternal bonds.
Springing from a deep understanding of the Armenian people and their unique past, Vahé Oshagan’s essay presents a reflective, yet witty and fluid, account of his encounters with people from all walks of Karabagh life. It touches upon topics as diverse as the happenings of the 8th-century BC, the recent war of liberation, the dialect of the people, their worldview, their contradictions, their body language, their spirituality, and their legendary hospitality. It is an accomplished piece of imaginative literature, weaving between literary and literal, creative and factual, objective and subjective reflection.
Ara Oshagan’s photographs provide insight into the lives of the people of Karabagh on a documentary as well as symbolic level and they reflect his personal encounters in the region. At times capturing an intimate familial moment; at other times, in the street, observing the chaos of life; or reverent in the presence of Karabagh’s millennial churches, the images simultaneously document, explore, and reflect upon Karabagh’s precarious present and uncertain future.
Taken together, the text and images are symbiotic and deeply connected—like the father and son who produced the work—and they portray a region and a culture as old as the bonds of family and society themselves.
Ara Oshagan is a photographer whose work revolves around the intersecting themes of identity, community, and memory. His first collection, iwitness, joined portraits of witnesses of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 with their stories of horror, survival, and redemption. Oshagan has also photographed the Armenian diaspora of Los Angeles in a body of work entitled Traces of Identity. His other projects include Juvies, focusing on the history of youth in the California prison system, and a project about the Ethiopian community of Los Angeles. Ara Oshagan’s work is in the permanent collection of the Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida; the Downey Museum of Art, California; and the Museum of Modern Art in Armenia.
For more on Father Land go to: www.fatherlandbook.com
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