Father Land

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

Shushi, 2002. Ara Oshagan

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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.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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