Camera & Pen: A Book of Photography and Literature, Father Land by Vahé and Ara Oshagan.
The function of a camera is to capture light. Ara Oshagan uses his camera to capture time. Moments we would dispose of with a blink are frozen in photographs. His subjects often caught in a dance, without pose. An artistic collaboration between father and son, Father Land tells the stories of the people of Karabagh through imagery, prose and poetry. Printed in Armenian and eloquently translated to English by G. M. Goshgarian, the reader is present in the realities of life in Karabagh, its history, and people. A rich text written years ago is the contemplative voice that resonates among the images.
Father Land 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.
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 depict a complex and layered vision of Karabagh. Functioning on a documentary as well as symbolic levels, they reflect his encounters in the region seen from his own unique and intensely personal point of view. 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 his own place in this FatherLand.
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. – powerHouse Books
Vahé Oshagan is the preeminent poet and man of letters of the Armenian diaspora. He has authored eight volumes of poetry, six volumes of prose fiction, short stories, plays, and countless scholarly and literary articles and essays. Oshagan’s career as a writer was marked by a clear break from the past and the introduction of new literary ideas and forms into the Armenian language. In 1998, the President of the Republic of Armenia awarded Oshagan the Movses Khorenatsi medal for a lifetime of service to Armenian culture and letters—the highest Armenian honor given to a living person. Vahè Oshagan passed away on June 30, 2000.
Ara Oshagan is a photographer whose work revolves around the intersecting themes of identity, community, and memory. His first series, iwitness, joined portraits of witnesses of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 with their stories of survival, and redemption. Oshagan has also explored is own identity through photographs of the Armenian diaspora of Los Angeles. His other projects include Juvies, an image/text project with youth in the California prison system. 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.