Between the internet being down and overloading hours of shooting in the coarse of my days, my blog entries for my trip to Armenia turn out to be more of a running account of what I’m up to, here is what I have got so far….
My second day in Yerevan (April 18th), FAR, an organization doing humanitarian work in Armenia took me to shot at some of its programs. I started out at a hospital interns are trained. I got to shot a surgeon in action removing cancer from a man’s stomach. Next stop was a soup kitchen that serves 250 people one meal a day (5 days only). The kitchen used to serve even more patrons but had to cut back due to lack of funds. It is located in an abandoned stone-polishing factory. Most of the population worked polishing stone or cutting diamonds, all but about 10% lost their jobs when Armenia became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union. Poverty is prevalent since many of the factories closed down and no other industry has been developed in the area. The soup kitchen serves as more then a place to get a meal; it is also a social hall. A few couples have met there and married. On from there I was taken to The Children’s Reception and Orientation Center, a place where displaced children are kept and cared for until a family member or orphanage is found to place them with. The first child I took pictures of was a three-year-old girl whose mother was sent to prison. The center found her grandmother, where she will be moved. The center is a transitory location for displaced children from 3- 18 years of age. They remain at the center up to 18 days.
Saturday, I went to Noraduz near the shores of lake Serevan, where ancient tombstones, up to a thousand of then are in the graveyard on the town’s outskirts. The graveyard also has a section still in use today. One large funeral party was being held while I was visiting, also a smaller memorial where three men were getting drunk in front of a grave. They offered me some vodka, which I declined. Armenian home brewed vodka is tough stuff as I had found out my second night in town. The ancient part of the cemetary was unlike anything I have ever scene. I found myself equally fascinated by Armenian’s current style of tombs. I visit graveyards in most places I visit. By visiting cemeteries in each place I visit I gain insight into the culture. Each locality has a different prodominant style that most of the graves mimic, making each graveyard distinctive. In Armenia one identifying style is the engraving of peoples faces and sometimes full bodies on black tombstone that serves as ghostlike portraits of the dead.
Sunday I started my day at Yerevan’s fleamarket. Armenian kitsch makes up most of the items available. Mt. Ararat paintings filled the markets parememter. One can buy items ranging from hardware to puppies( image of puppies in car trunk; from paintings to medical implements. Next up I left the city and went to one of the mostly visited touristic sites, the Garni Temple, a pagan temple originally built in 7780 by king Trdat 1st and to there Geghart built in 1215, a church that serves as a tourist destination and an active place of worship. ( image of young girls is shot in the church)