Capturing a face

By Nareg Seferian - | Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Capturing a face - an Armenian face - is more than just re-presenting with art the wrinkles and dimples that accent a look. It is a look, after all, which glances back over three thousand years. It is the face at the crossroads of the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Mediterranean world.

An Armenian face has looked upon the kings of Assyria and Parthia, and the armies of Greece and Rome. It has withstood the onslaught of Arabs, Mongols, Turks and Russians. An Armenian face has witnessed war, earthquake and genocide.

An Armenian face has also been warmed by golden sunrises and sunsets, and cooled in the crisp air of the mountains of Ararat. It has quenched its thirst by the Tigris and the Euphrates, and cleansed itself in the Arax. It has beheld a thousand and one churches in Ani, and closed its eyes in prayer for a thousand and one years and more at Echmiadzin.

It is hard to capture an Armenian face, for it is known to hide. Sometimes it is behind make-up, or under a veil. Or behind a beard, under the mantle of a priest or the helmet of a soldier. An Armenian face may hide behind tears, and behind the sweat of tilling the land and harvesting its fruits.

Who are the people of Armenia today? They are parents and teachers, shopkeepers and artists, students and labourers. They hold on to a legacy, one of the most ancient on the planet. The Armenian people today face the fulfillment of the Homeland, just as they face the fulfillment of their place everywhere else, in the Diaspora, and throughout the world.

Looking upon an Armenian face, one senses how much it has borne and how it continues to bear a great deal. Most of all, however, an Armenian face is the bearer of the Armenian soul.

A story can be told in a single glance. The Armenian Face is captured in an exhibition titled "Portraits: Images of Everyday Life in Yerevan". These photographs capture the looks on Armenian faces which bear stories that range from a good laugh, to a hard day's work, to millennia-long history... to curiosity at you, the spectator.

The Armenian people have a history as old as history itself. Today's Republic of Armenia was born out of a crumbling Soviet Union. It's three million or so people withstood earthquake, blockade and war, to face up to the challenges of maintaining a state and developing an economy, with the help of millions of the Armenian Diaspora, spread throughout the world, including tens of thousands in Australia.

The capital and largest city, Yerevan, plays host to a vibrant population - parents and teachers, shopkeepers and artists, students and labourers, some of whom you will get to know in these photographs. Their pride and culture, their sometimes discouraging, many times very-much-enviable circumstances attest to a country undergoing immense changes in the 21st century. You have the opportunity and the honour to experience an ancient land and a fascinating people through these pictures.

Nareg Seferian is currently studying Liberal Arts at St. John's College Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.


The exhibition runs until 12th April 2010 at Sun Studios, 42 Maddox st. Alexandria.

Then 29th April 2010 - 13th May 2010 at Berkelouw Books Newtown.