Father Land

Father and son examine their roots in the Nargorno-Krabagh Republic.

Shushi, 2002. Ara Oshagan

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Ara Oshagan was one of many photographers who came to me at the Palm Springs Photo Festival with a portfolio to share. I was reviewing portfolios for the third day in a row. At these kind of events reviewers face a steady flow of photographers eager for feedback, work, or a promise to publish an existing project. The quality of work is all over the place, but most of it is geared towards the more lucrative commercial photography market. There was a lot of great work to be sure, but after three days it all started to look the same. So when Ara showed me the body of work that would become his Father Land book—grainy black and white, intimate, loose—it was like stepping outside after being trapped in a smoke-choked conference room.

Father Land is an intensely personal project, a collaboration between Ara and his father Vahé, who wrote the text for the book (in English and Armenian). Together they explore the Republic of Nargorno-Karabagh, the mountainous Caucasus region from which they come. The photos have a classic, almost timeless feeling. It’s reminiscent of Antonin Kratochvil’s work documenting the Czech Republic, Jason Eskenazi’s magnificent book Wonderland, or Anthony Suau’s vast exploration of the former Soviet Union in Beyond the Fall.

That isn’t to say Oshagan’s work is derivative. He brings the keen eye of a street photographer to the largely quiet villages of Karabagh. Each frame is full with shadows, movement, people…even stillness occupies space in the images featured here. These are photos that allow you to go back again and again, finding something new each time. It’s a book worth keeping around to re-examine every once in a while.  —Mark Murrmann

(Published by powerHouse Books, 2010)

Father and son, Karin Dag Village, 1999.
 

Stepanakert, 2006.
 

Town Square, Shushi, 2006.
 

Wedding, Vank Village, 2006.
 

Construction site, Shushi, 2006.
 

Frontlines near Askeran, 2002.
 

Shushi, 2006.
 

Shushi, 2006.
 

Taking the slaughter to market, Karin Dag Village, 2002.
 

Shushi, 2006.
 

Christening, St. Gantsasar Church, 2006.
 

Village square, Karin Dag Village, 1999.
 

Stepanakert, 2006.
 

A soldier’s tombstone, Stepanakert, 2006.
 

Father and daughter, Stepanakert, 2006.
 

Choir, St. Gazanchetsots Church, Shushi, 2002.
 

Home, Lachin region near the Iranian border, 2006.
 

Stepanakert, 2006.
 

Holy Liturgy, St. Gantsasar Church, 1999.

 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest