Araz Hadjian in Armenia

Araz Hadjian: A Nomadic Spirit from Armenia to Antarctica

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YEREVAN-BUENOS AIRES — Photographer Araz Hadjian was born in 1970 in Aleppo, Syria, and in the same year, she moved to Argentina with her family. She received her primary and secondary education in Armenian colleges. Later, she earned a degree in design from the State University of Buenos Aires. Araz has participated in numerous training courses in Art and Photography and has exhibited her work in various photography exhibitions, including solo exhibitions in Buenos Aires, Yerevan, London, as well as at the Maritime Museum and the former Prison of Ushuaia, Argentina. From 1988 to 1995, she served as an Armenian language teacher at the San Gregorio El Iluminador Educational Institute in Buenos Aires. In 2023, she was a finalist with an honorable mention in the Culture category in the Patagon Journal 2023 contest in Chile.

Dear Araz, when I met you last year in Yerevan, you delighted me as a dynamic person who travels all around the world with her camera, speaking multiple languages and open to people from all walks of life. Do you consider yourself a cosmopolitan?

More than cosmopolitan, I consider myself a nomadic spirit, one that easily adapts to different places and social and cultural groups. My curiosity about the world began with reading Marco Polo’s travels, which sparked my imagination with worlds full of mysterious corners. My first trips, in addition to family vacations, were the annual camps of the Homenetmen Scout Group, and as I grew older, I continued traveling whenever I could. Almost always, I find myself in a place where I feel I could stay and live…

You have traveled to many countries around the world. Can you name three lesser-known destinations that you found particularly interesting?

1) Iran, 2) Armenia, 3) Antarctica.

Iran: the human factor is the main reason, the Iranians are some of the most hospitable people I have met while traveling, then there are some surreal landscapes like Yazd, with its tunnels, passageways and chimneys… the Persian architecture, the sweets…

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Armenia: because even though it has already entered the list of countries with a lot of tourism, it is still an exotic country. For me, getting to know Armenia was verifying that the fantasy I had in my mind was real, the medieval churches built on the edge of cliffs, ravines, delicious fruits that I still haven’t identified…the vitality of the people always willing to help the visitor.

Antarctica: because it is more than a visual experience, it is a sensory journey! I have been twice in Antarctica, and the Antarctic experience goes beyond the purely visual; although the visuals are incredibly impressive, what struck me the most was the profound silence and the vast expanse of absolute white. At times, it felt like I was witnessing the genesis of the universe.

Araz Hadjian on the top of Ararat Mountain

 I cannot say about the last one, but I totally agree with your number one and two! And I will not be surprised if you tell you met an Armenian in Antarctica.

Coincidentally, the doctor on the ship I traveled on was from Armenia — the now late Konstantin Petrosyan. It was a pleasant mutual surprise to be able to speak Armenian in Antarctica.

What is your most unusual experience as photographer?

Unfortunately, more than unusual, it was something that I never thought I would witness and it was the most painful experience I witnessed, when I documented the exodus of the population of Artsakh in September 2023 after the Azeri occupation. While documenting it I felt as if I myself were the photographer of the images of the 1915 genocide, and that all Armenians have so engraved in our souls. I never imagined seeing this new Armenian tragedy with my own eyes.

Topics: photography
People: Araz Hadjian

You were born into the family of Armenian writer, educator, and journalist Bedros Hadjian (1933-2012). What was the most important lesson you learned from him, both as a person and as an Armenian?

My father dedicated his entire life to teaching, researching, and promoting Armenian culture and history as a journalist, writer, and educator in Syria and Argentina. His work is widely recognized throughout the diaspora. His greatest lesson was humility in human relationships and selfless dedication in pursuit of his vocation, which, in his case, was safeguarding the Armenian identity in a country as remote as Argentina.

By the way, the year my father passed away, I went to climb the top of Ararat mountain. There I buried my father’s portrait, wrapped in Armenian tricolor banner.

Araz Hadjian in Antarctica

Despite the distance between Argentina and Armenia, you frequently visit your homeland and share its stories with the world. Last year, you came to document the patricide of Artsakh people. Moving forward, I hope your visits to Armenia will be filled with positive experiences.

Although, unfortunately, like all Armenians worldwide, last year was a very difficult blow due to the displacement of Armenians in Artsakh. Every visit I make to Armenia is filled with beautiful moments. Each time I go, I seriously consider the possibility of staying and living there permanently; I hope to define this one day. What gratifies me the most is the ease of integration and making friends with whom to share experiences. Also, the vibrant socio-cultural life, especially in Yerevan, where I spend most of my time since one of my brothers lives there. It’s a city where there’s never enough time to enjoy everything it offers. Exploring the country and visiting not only the classic tourist spots but also more remote locations full of stories and interesting people deserves a separate chapter. I love going with the flow, without a defined itinerary, and hitchhiking around Armenia. Doing this, I meet colorful people and experienced unforgettable moments. The months pass by in Armenia without ever getting bored!

 

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