Oşagan’s Heritage, from Karabakh to Los Angeles

Source: “Karabağ’dan Los Angeles’a Oşagan mirası” (“Oşagan’s Heritage, from Karabakh to Los Angeles”). 2014, June 4. Agos. Accessed June 4th, 2014. http://www.agos.com.tr/foto.php?seo=karabagdan-los-angelesa-osagan-mirasi&detay=209&sayfa=1

We are presenting photographs from Ara Oşagan’s series “Father Land,” “Traces of Identity,” and “Youth of Prison” with the photographer’s own words.

Ara Oşagan tells the story of the Armenian Diaspora in Los Angeles via his “Traces of Identity” series.

 

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“Armenians have been of the Diaspora for more than a thousand years.”

“Armenians have been of the Diaspora for more than a thousand years.”

 

 

 

“Since the destruction of our last independent capital Ani in 1046 by the Seljuks, scatteredness has become a lifestyle for us. To live in other cultures for centuries and to be dispersed into the world defines our identity --we are a nation in whose veins circulate scatteredness. The endless Middle East wars and wretchedness have scattered us and dragged us to the edges of the world. One of those is at the end of civilization; Los Angeles.”

“Since the destruction of our last independent capital Ani in 1046 by the Seljuks, scatteredness has become a lifestyle for us. To live in other cultures for centuries and to be dispersed into the world defines our identity –we are a nation in whose veins circulate scatteredness. The endless Middle East wars and wretchedness have scattered us and dragged us to the edges of the world. One of those is at the end of civilization; Los Angeles.”

 

 

 

“Currently, Los Angeles has become the de facto capitol of the Armenian Diaspora. We have been poured out into Los Angeles from all corners of the world and each of us incorporated our own flavor to this multi-layered, post-modern ghetto city of cultures.”

“Currently, Los Angeles has become the de facto capitol of the Armenian Diaspora. We have been poured out into Los Angeles from all corners of the world and each of us incorporated our own flavor to this multi-layered, post-modern ghetto city of cultures.”

 

 

 

“I live in Glendale, the heart of the Armenian society.”

“I live in Glendale, the heart of the Armenian society.”

 

 

 

“I grew up in Beirut with a nationalist Armenian family, received a half-French half-Armenian education, and arrived here when I became an adult. I am Armenian, American, Lebanese, and a world citizen. I live in the multiplicity of languages, cultures, life styles, and forms of thoughts and belong to this multiplicity. I have a formless identity and this identity finds itself by being in-between various languages and cultures. This is a process.”

“I grew up in Beirut with a nationalist Armenian family, received a half-French half-Armenian education, and arrived here when I became an adult. I am Armenian, American, Lebanese, and a world citizen. I live in the multiplicity of languages, cultures, life styles, and forms of thoughts and belong to this multiplicity. I have a formless identity and this identity finds itself by being in-between various languages and cultures. This is a process.”

 

 

 

“I grew up in Beirut with a nationalist Armenian family, received a half-French half-Armenian education, and arrived here when I became an adult. I am Armenian, American, Lebanese, and a world citizen. I live in the multiplicity of languages, cultures, life styles, and forms of thoughts and belong to this multiplicity. I have a formless identity and this identity finds itself by being in-between various languages and cultures. This is a process.”

“I grew up in Beirut with a nationalist Armenian family, received a half-French half-Armenian education, and arrived here when I became an adult. I am Armenian, American, Lebanese, and a world citizen. I live in the multiplicity of languages, cultures, life styles, and forms of thoughts and belong to this multiplicity. I have a formless identity and this identity finds itself by being in-between various languages and cultures. This is a process.”

 

 

 

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Ara Oşagan photographed the youth in a prison in Los Angeles in his 2010 ‘Juvies’. Oşagan not only provided intense portraits of each of the prisoners, but also asked them to jot down their thoughts, feelings, and expectations next to their photographs…

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“The stories of the youth in the prison is quite complicated. There exists a very long story of how they arrived here, in the background. All these questions are critical for us to understand their current situation. For that reason, to photograph their current situation would not suffice to reflect the emotional depth of the situation they are in.”

“The stories of the youth in the prison is quite complicated. There exists a very long story of how they arrived here, in the background. All these questions are critical for us to understand their current situation. For that reason, to photograph their current situation would not suffice to reflect the emotional depth of the situation they are in.”

 

 

 

“Encountering these young people has been an eye-opening experience for me. They are in no way the violence-infected, unpredictable, uneducated people they have been depicted to be. In fact, they were intelligent, polite, and even sweet.”

“Encountering these young people has been an eye-opening experience for me. They are in no way the violence-infected, unpredictable, uneducated people they have been depicted to be. In fact, they were intelligent, polite, and even sweet.”

 

 

 

 

“They reminded me of my own son and this demonstrated to me how minuscule the distance is between the outside and the inside.”

“They reminded me of my own son and this demonstrated to me how minuscule the distance is between the outside and the inside.”

 

 

 

 

“If my son were to grow up under different conditions, he could as well find himself in their place. It may still happen. You never know what life will bring to one's life. And as Armenians, we have been conditioned to always expect the worst.”

“If my son were to grow up under different conditions, he could as well find himself in their place. It may still happen. You never know what life will bring to one’s life. And as Armenians, we have been conditioned to always expect the worst.”

 

 

 

“The rate of imprisonment is the highest in California and these kids are subjected to countless and great injustices. Many of these kids are sentenced to long years for minor crimes and are kept isolated from the society under lock and key. However, they have very strong skills in adaptation, change, and growth. They can become new people. They simply need such an opportunity to be provided to them.”

“The rate of imprisonment is the highest in California and these kids are subjected to countless and great injustices. Many of these kids are sentenced to long years for minor crimes and are kept isolated from the society under lock and key. However, they have very strong skills in adaptation, change, and growth. They can become new people. They simply need such an opportunity to be provided to them.”

 

 

 

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In Ara Oraşan's words: "My father died on June 2000."

In Ara Oraşan’s words: “My father died on June 2000.”

 

 

 

“A few years before that, we decided together to start a project on Karabakh: Karabakh is a remote mountainous area near Armenia. It's a regon where Armenians fought hard after the collapse of the Soviet Union for their independence and won."

“A few years before that, we decided together to start a project on Karabakh: Karabakh is a remote mountainous area near Armenia. It’s a regon where Armenians fought hard after the collapse of the Soviet Union for their independence and won.”

 

 

 

“It still is a politically unrecognized region protected by soldiers. It's a region in transformation: its people and land live a lifestyle of great socio-political and existential transformation. It's a region that is a part of our remote homeland."

“It still is a politically unrecognized region protected by soldiers. It’s a region in transformation: its people and land live a lifestyle of great socio-political and existential transformation. It’s a region that is a part of our remote homeland.”

 

 

 

“Until 1990s, neither me nor my father ever saw Armenia. Both of us were born and grew up in ever-expanding cities of the Armenian Diaspora: Jerusalem, Paris, Philadelphia, Los Angeles."

“Until 1990s, neither me nor my father ever saw Armenia. Both of us were born and grew up in ever-expanding cities of the Armenian Diaspora: Jerusalem, Paris, Philadelphia, Los Angeles.”

 

 

 

“We went to Karabakh with my father in 1990, before he died. This travel coincided with the birth of my first son. After my father died, I kept on working on our project for another six years. And each of my returns to Karabakh was marked with a new birth. This project incorporates four births, and a death."

“We went to Karabakh with my father in 1990, before he died. This travel coincided with the birth of my first son. After my father died, I kept on working on our project for another six years. And each of my returns to Karabakh was marked with a new birth. This project incorporates four births, and a death.”

 

 

 

"And so, this project took on an importance beyond its own. I began looking for that which is called "father" in the lands and the history that our people inhabited for more than three thousand years."

“And so, this project took on an importance beyond its own. I began looking for that which is called “father” in the lands and the history that our people inhabited for more than three thousand years.”

 

 

 

“'Father Land' is a project about roots and identity. It is a project about a place and a society that is looking for its own and new life style, knitting a new identity that is changing, newly uncovered from a dark history. And at the same time, it is also the story of a very personal transformation, emergence."

“’Father Land’ is a project about roots and identity. It is a project about a place and a society that is looking for its own and new life style, knitting a new identity that is changing, newly uncovered from a dark history. And at the same time, it is also the story of a very personal transformation, emergence.”

 

 

 

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