Photobook Review: Andreea Tanase - Armenians in Romania. The stories of the people close to us

Photobook Review: Andreea Tanase – Armenians in Romania. The stories of the people close to us

“I began documenting the Armenian community in Romania because I was impressed with the Armenian Genocide stories I had read about. In Romania, certain historical realities are still silenced and consequently they are either absent or poorly presented in the educational curriculum. In the history books I studied in school, there was no reference to the Armenian Genocide, and in the current ones there is only a brief presentation.

Therefore, one may say I was inspired in my journalistic endeavor by the crimes from the beginning of the past century, known as the Armenian Genocide. I desired to talk to people of unspoken things and to tell the stories of the people next to us, the ones we look at and pass by every day. I also needed to know our past and history. A few months into my documentation, it became clear to me that the activities of the Armenian community in Romania revolve around the church, so I decided to get to know the Armenians during their moments of celebration. Because they are a small community with very few members in many cities, for most Armenians, the only opportunity to experience their traditions is through religious manifestations. This is why many of the photographs presented in this album have a religious theme.

During my journey through Romania I met descendants of the old Armenian families who came to our country with the first waves of immigration. Forced by the communist regime to hide their identity, they no longer know their language or traditions but are now eager to rediscover their roots. I met Armenians who have struggled to preserve their identity by reading and writing daily in the Armenian language, so they won’t forget it. I met Armenians who had left Romania at a certain time of their lives and who return every year to reunite with the community and to take part in the main celebrations. I met Armenians who have recently moved to Romania, are happy to live here and have expressed gratitude for the Romanian hospitality. I met Armenians who dream of Romania and Romanians who dream of Armenia. I became very close to the Armenian community, I have made dear friends and I consider Armenians to be a part of my identity.

The book is a documentary project focusing on a part of the Armenian community’s history in Romania. I captured Armenians living within their community, but also within their families. I concentrated on an Armenian family from Bucharest, deeply involved in the community’s activities. With deep regret I mention the passing of some of the Armenians portrayed in the album, completing the life and death cycle, which is present in every story.

To complete this photo album, I traveled to 16 cities in Romania, the Republic of Moldova, Bulgaria and Armenia. The documentation phase lasted three years, from 2007 to 2010, during which I gathered the necessary material consisting of thousands of photos and dozens of hours of interviews.” – Andreea Tanase

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It’s a little odd how we tend to overlook the stories of the people next to us and pretend things did not happen. This way traditions get lost, events are forgotten and eventually the people and the stories fade away. Andreea’s quest led her through more than 16 cities and more than 3 years of documentation and in the end an outstanding piece of documentary – and history – was born. It is not the kind of photobook you browse easily and – thinking of it – I don’t think it can be called a photobook: it’s more much much more than that. So feel free to take your time and read the stories of the Armenians and understand their life, struggle and history in one of the best Romanian photobooks from this year.

Andreea Tănase is an independent photojournalist with 10 years experience in press photography. She addressed varied topics, from news to social reports and photo documentaries and approached the Romanian social and cultural context. She worked at top newspapers in Romania, such as Evenimentul Zilei or Cotidianul and collaborated with major magazines and photo agencies in Romania as well as abroad. Her photos and articles appeared in publications such as National Geographic Romania, Geo Romania, Foreign Policy Romania, British Photo Agency, Intact Images, Ostphoto, Amnesty International Journal, Ararat Magazine, Die Welt, Die Tageszeitung or Die Presse.

Armenians in Romania. The stories of the people close to us
Author and photographer: Andreea Tănase
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Illustrations: 561 Color images
Text: 148 pages
Edition: English
Dimensions: 32 x 24 cm, 12.59 x 9.44 in
Weight: 3 kg, 6,6 Ibs
Publication date: 2015
ISBN: 978-973-0-18328-3
Publisher: Self-published

Retail price: 45 EUR / 55 USD / 200 RON
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You can browse the photobook in paper-format in the Oitzarisme Library.