LOS ANGELES–Ara Oshagan’s book, Father Land has made the Top Ten of 2010 list of Socialdocumentary.net, an online community that uses the power of photography to promote global awareness.
Father Land by Vahé and Ara Oshagan is a poetic journey through the rugged, human and history-laden landscape of their forefathers in Karabakh and a unique collaboration between a photographer son and his writer father. The book, which will be released on Sunday with an accompanying exhibit at the Los Angeles Municipal Arts Gallery, chronicles a decades-long journey of a father and son that resulted in a literary and visual contemplation of present-day history and culture, as well as a meditation on transnational identity, land, and paternal bonds.
“In choosing these exhibits, I weighed the factors of 1) the power of the photographic image, 2) the commitment and respect for the subject matter as demonstrated in the text and the images, and 3) diversity of issues and locations. The third factor required that some exhibits, while certainly as deserving of recognition as these fourteen, were not included only because there was an over-representation of the particular subject or geographical location,” the socialdocumentary.net founder and director Glenn Ruga in an announcement posted on the group’s Web site.
“I would like to thank all the photographers who have submitted exhibits over the past year for participating in this global community of image makers and image viewers, all of whom recognize the power of the photographic image to explore — and in some cases change — the global human condition,” added Ruga.
“I am honored that my work has been selected from among such amazing photographers,” said Oshagan in a Facebook post announcing the selection.
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 Karabakh 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 Karabakh. Functioning on documentary as well as symbolic levels, they reflect his encounters in the region as seen from his own 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 Karabakh’s millennial churches, the images simultaneously document, explore, and reflect upon Karabakh’s precarious present and his own place in this Father Land.
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.
Launched in October 2008, SocialDocumentary.net has hundreds of compelling online exhibits by photographers from all corners of the globe documenting issues as diverse as the effects of modernization on Kathmandu, homelessness in the U.S., the consequences of oil exploitation in the Niger Delta, and reconciliation in Rwanda. All photographers on SDN share a common curiosity about the human condition and a strong desire to communicate their insights through words and photographs.
Father Land can be purchased from Amazon.com here.