Der Fotograf Ara Oshagan hat 1993 das erste mal eine Kamera benutzt, um seine eigens verfassten Texte über die armenische Gemeinde in Los Angeles zu illustrieren. Schnell wich das Schreiben der Fotografie. Die letzten drei Jahre dokumentierte Oshagan das abtrünnige Gebiet Bergkarabach in der ehemaligen Sowjetunion, auf der Suche nach seinen armenischen Wurzeln. So entstand diese Bilderserie namens ‘Father Land’, die ungeschminkt und direkt das vom Krieg gebeutelte Land und seine Bewohner zeigt.
‘My father died in June 2000. A few years before that, he and I decided to embark on a project about Karabagh: a remote mountainous area next to Armenia, in the Caucasus. A region where the Armenians fought and won a fierce war of independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A region still with militarized borders and in the process of rebuilding. A place that is part of our distant homeland, the land of our forefathers, there for over three millennia.
Until the nineties, neither one of us had stepped foot in that part of the Armenian homeland. Both our generations were born and came of age in the sprawling cities of the Armenian Diaspora: in Jerusalem, Paris, Beirut, Philadelphia, Los Angeles.
Before his passing, my father and I made one trip to Karabagh together, in 1999. It coincided with the birth of my first son. After his passing, I continued work on our project for another six years. And my every trip back marked a new birth for my family and I. The project spanned four births in all. And one death. A cycle of life and death. A cycle that linked and begot generations. And a project intertwined in this cycle that witnessed the passing and emergence of fathers and forefathers. And, I, the son, myself emerging, becoming.
Karabagh—the people, the land, the very way of life—in a similar transformation. Political, social, existential. A place and a people emerging out of a dark history, forging a new identity, searching for themselves and a new way of life. A nation with a president, parliament, and military but no political recognition: victors in war but yet to win the peace, their process of self-determination and reconstruction yet to be concluded.
This FatherLand itself in a state of becoming.’
All images © Ara Oshagan