Reflections of a Collective Memory

 

Reflections of a Collective Memory reflects and explores how a community constructs its identity when it is built on a common memory. Through a series of black and white portraits, a story unfolds of these immigrants of Armenian descent who currently live in the Greater New York Area. Though my subjects are from different stages in life and styles of living, they all share a memory of the Armenian Genocide that happened almost a century ago. 

 

Telling this story in black and white, this body of work highlights how the memory of the Armenian Genocide is reflected in many areas of the Armenian community’s life today. The viewer is invited to witness the effects of a painful past and how it can reflect its shadow on the present. And yet, observe as well the notable expressions through painting and dance that capture this unique collective identity as it continues to grow in vibrancy from world-wide denial of the genocide. 


Of Armenian descent myself and a recent immigrant to New York City,  I was curious how this event might have shaped this community here. I discovered that it is very present in the community’s artwork, scholarly work, and even many day-to-day activities that the community maintains till this day, and strove to record this with this series.

 

 

After a Century... they Reflect
After a Century... they Reflect

Peruz Kalousian Birthplace: Palu, Turkey 12/22/1909 At the age of 6, what she remembers is how males over the age of 15 in her village were taken and never came back, including her 2 uncles.

After a Century... they Reflect
After a Century... they Reflect

Charlette Kechejian Birthplace: Nikhda, Turkey 10/12/1912 Walking for long miles through the desert, escaping persecutions. Today what she remembers how caring her mother was throughout this painful journey.

Reflecting on the Past
Reflecting on the Past

Julia, watching a traditional Armenian Dancing performance with the residents of the Armenian Nursing Home in Flushing, Queens.

Reflecting on the Past
Reflecting on the Past

Peruz Kalousian & other senior citizens watching with Julia a traditional dancing performance

Claiming Identity...
Claiming Identity...

Historical records show that Armenian dance has the most ancient origins in the world Maral Temiz at a performance, Shushi

Claiming Identity...
Claiming Identity...

Today, one of the activities that bring the Armenian community together is traditional dancing.

Claiming Identity...
Claiming Identity...

Every Friday rehearsals take place in Tenafly, New Jersey, where young girls who form The Shushi Dancing Ensemble get ready for upcoming performances.

Claiming Identity...
Claiming Identity...

Raele back stage getting ready for a performance that was taking place in Hackensack, NJ.

Claiming Identity...
Claiming Identity...

Raele Sabounjian Riverside, NJ.

Claiming Identity...
Claiming Identity...

Lorig at a performance on Easter at the St'Vartan Armenian Orthodox Church in New York City.

Claiming Identity...
Claiming Identity...

Lorig Setrakian at her place, holding one of her dresses at her place in Riverside, NJ.

Claiming Identity...
Claiming Identity...

To Armenians dancing is reflecting on the past and constructing the present identity of the Armenian community. An identity that is inseparable of the memory of the genocide.

I am a Descendant
I am a Descendant

The Armenian Genocide had a great impact on Armenian art. This impact was and still represented in various mediums, from painting to singing and so forth. Kevork Murad, a New York based painter. His Armenian-Syrian background is overshadowing his latest work.

I am a Descendant
I am a Descendant

Anias Tekerian, a New York based singer. Revives old and traditional Armenian songs singing with her band "Zulal".

I am a Descendant
I am a Descendant

Aram Jibelian, New York based photographer. His latest work deals with the idea of living in exile and denial.

I am a Descendant
I am a Descendant

Nora Armani, New York based actress and director. Her latest work deals with relocating, moving and traumatic experinces.

I am a Descendant
I am a Descendant

Nishan Kazazian, New York based architect and artist. Memory and identity is always reflected in his artwork.

Recognize...
Recognize...

A large number of Armenian thinkers, scholars and politicians dedicated their lives, researching, writing and raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide. Anny Bakalian a scholar and writer. The image on the screen is a photo of an abandoned church since 1915, taken during her last visit to Turkey.

Recognize...
Recognize...

Claire Kedeshian, Musician and Lawyer. Reconnecting with the past and the roots ... through "Heritage Tourism"

Recognize...
Recognize...

Dennis Papazian founder of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Recognize...
Recognize...

Ruth Thomasian is the founder of Project Save in Boston, MA.

Recognize...
Recognize...

For many years, Hirant Gulian served as chairman for the Knights of Vartan Times Square Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee.