Photographs | Talar Green reveling in life’s mysteries
April 11, 2019
The souvenir shop on Abovyan Street in Yerevan, where for Talar, “each handmade item is like a piece of our country.”
In her quest for finding a deeper meaning in photography, she has discovered that taking photographs leads to a different state of being and makes one appreciate the amorphous boundaries between reality and fiction.
|Artist's name||Talar Alyemezian|
|City/Country||Lives in Beirut, Lebanon|
|About the artist||
Is there truth in a photograph? Is there a story? Does a picture speak for itself? If beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, then what about the photographer’s perspective?
I was pondering over these questions while gazing at the glittering photograph hanging above Talar’s desk at the Armenian Deputies Office on the first floor of Shaghzoyan Center in Beirut. I would say that this hub of community activities in the Armenian quarter of Bourj Hammoud was an unlikely place for such meditative contemplation.
Had the photograph always been there? I was not sure. But it was the first thing that caught my eye that day. Was it a surreal collection of arts and crafts or an underground cave of treasures from One Thousand and One Nights?
I liked the temptation of stepping into a fairytale world. But Talar was quick to hold me back. “It’s Dalan,” she said, referring to the souvenir shop on every tourist’s list of must-dos in Yerevan. “It’s fun to linger over each display there; each hand made item is like a piece of our country, and the colors are simply mesmerizing! They have a therapeutic effect.”
She registered my disbelief and tapped her mobile phone to produce a snow-clad circle of pine trees.
“A reproduction of this photo hangs on the fourth floor of this building,” she said. “People wonder what idyllic Alpine landscapes have in common with this center. I have a hard time convincing them that this is the first view one encounters upon stepping out of the train in Gyumri on a freezing morning.”
Our conversation quickly moved from small talk to a discussion of her hobby as a photographer.
Take a break and scroll through Talar’s submissions before you find out more about her creative passion.
Talar is fascinated by nature and its myriad transformations. “I love change,” she says. “The only way to relive the pleasure of the moment, to savor the memory of the scenes you have marveled at, and to share it with others, is to photograph them.”
She also likes to travel and discover new places. Armenia pulls her as the developing motherland and “as a country where Christianity has a different feel, where the austerity of the ancient churches helps you connect not only with God, but also with the land of your forefathers,” she muses. “You feel the profound mystery of achieving serenity through prayer.” No wonder she had chosen to get married in the medieval St. Gevorg [St. George] Church of Mughni, off the usual beaten track.
Yet, what had drawn Talar to Gyumri in Jan. 2017 were memories of the earthquake that had struck northern Armenia three decades ago. The shock waves had traveled across the Armenian Diaspora. As a child, she had been haunted by the iconic photograph of the clock that had stopped ticking on the outer wall of a school building in Armenia’s second largest city.
She knew what she was after.
Gyumri wouldn’t yield the clock frozen in time. However, it had wrapped her in winter warmth on the advent of the New Year. “You wouldn’t say the place was raised to the ground,” she reflects. “Even with snow on the streets and people behind closed doors, you could feel at home.”
The ardor of such moments fills Talar’s heart with immense joy. Her lens captures the inner soul of a place not only to revisit it and share it with others, but also to create curiosity. “I want people to go and actually see these places for themselves,” she says.
Talar is not always behind the camera. She likes to get photographed in traditional costumes. “I try on different Armenian costumes to experience a different feeling each time,” she explains. “When you put on a national costume, you’re transported back in time. You get an image of what you think a true Armenian looks like, you get a sense of how your ancestors lived, and somehow you embrace the grave extent of the suffering they endured.” On such occasions, she never smiles at the camera, “because the costume itself obliges you to take a serious posture.”
Growing up in a family where music and painting were a daily part of life, Talar wasn’t even aware that photography was a hobby for her. As a kid, she wandered around with disposable cameras, until she decided to take courses in photography and learn more.
“My perspective changed dramatically,” she confesses. “When I photograph, I shift into a different inner world. I feel detached from what is going on in my life. When you’re in nature, when you see God’s creation or man-made creations, you feel a special bond.”
Talar wishes to delve deeper into the artistic side of photography. She was happy to submit a fine selection of photos from her “Armenia” and “Lebanon” series to h-pem. Each weaves a narrative of its own…
Let us know in the comments below which photos you like best. If you have an “eye” for photography like Talar and enjoy taking photographs, don’t wait, submit your work today!
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- Snow-dressed wounds The two bell towers of the Cathedral of the Seven Wounds of the Holy Mother of God lie toppled in the church yard since the earthquake of 1988. They have since been replaced by replicas.
- Soothing candles “I stumbled into a packed church during Sunday mass in Haghardsin. There were people from all walks of life. Many women had their heads covered. Their serious and solumn appearance filled me with a sense of awe,” reflects Talar.
- Christmas in Gyumri Stylized Christmas trees line the recently renovated Abovyan Avenue in the historic Kumayri District. The snow covered pedestrian walkway is dotted with shops and cultural landmarks that come to life when the trees light up at night.
- Love in the air Freshly fallen snow, silence and a sense of tranquility prevail in the streets of Gyumri, but Talar never feels alone. “There is love on the road,” she says, pointing at the couple she has photographed.
- Cherkezi Dzor [Չերքեզի ձոր] or Cherkez Valley- Gyumri “Your fingers go numb from the biting cold, but inside this cozy restaurant, you can take off your shoes and enjoy the warm hospitality. You can choose your fish from nearby ponds, where people huddle together and chat to keep warm,” says Talar.
- Grilled Sterlet A species of Eurasian sturgeon with its elongated and narrow snout graces the dinner table at Cherkezi Dzor. “You eat and drink and cannot help but take photos,” recalls Talar.
- Caucasus or the Alps? A cold wind blows in the wee hours, when Talar steps out of the Gyumri Railway Station. The Alpine scene cut straight from a chocolate box melts her heart as she reaches for her camera to capture the elegance of the scene.
- Frozen in time Talar had used newspaper cut outs as part of a class assignment on the earthquake in Armenia. She regrets throwing away the photo of a clock (like the one depicted here) showing the exact moment a school crumbled (Photo: Roman Poderni, TASS)
- Resilience comes of age! Despite the slow pace of rehabilitation, life goes on in Gyumri, and Talar is humbled by the strength of the Gyumretsis. “They have not only moved on, but aspire for a better life,” she points out. The ticking clock she has captured at a busy, snowy hour is her homage to the city.
- Street lamps at Raouché There is a witty edge to Talar’s photography. In this picture, street lamps are in ironic contrast with the downpouring light along the coastline of Beirut, where residential and commercial neighborhoods never stop reclaiming the sea.
- Sunset over Byblos Talar enjoys spending time in nature and capturing ephemeral moments. Spectacular sunsets over Lebanese coastal towns like Jbeil never fail to inspire her.
- Tiro camp Spurred by a penchant for old things, Talar looks for traces that evoke history. She depicts one of the last corners of Tiro camp, a shantytown set up by survivors of the Armenian Genocide, which grew to become the Armenian quarter of Bourj Hammoud in Beirut.
- ‘Piano keys’ With an eye for the city’s colorful contrasts, Talar invites us to look more closely at women from different cultures, retro signs hanging from buildings, and street art on the old stairs of Mar Mikhael near downtown Beirut.
- A celebration of red Coffee tastes better with pomegranates! Experimenting with hues, Talar synthesizes shades of red and golden color palates.
- A mannerist portrait Armen Abdalian is best known as the poised news presenter of OTV, a Lebanese channel which broadcasts 30-minutes of news in Armenian daily. Off the screen he finds the time to crack a joke or make a hilarious observation. Talar has captured the moment perfectly.
- A tale of two crosses “I like to see different color palettes in photographs; I like photographs that draw attention to the narrative and have hidden elements of composition,” says Talar.
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