Serli's Hemshin photo wins FotoWeek DC
Published: Wednesday November 16, 2011
Washington - Serli's Summer Fall won the first place in FotoWeek DC held between November 5 and 12 this year. This is the third winning entry for the young photographer and this year it comes in Travel category.
In 2009 Serli won with a photo from Yerevan-Gyumri road in Armenia in Student Travel category and in 2010 it was a photograph from Paris fashion week that won in Fine Arts.
"Exactly two years ago, I had a photo of an Armenian landscape featured at the FotoWeek DC exhibition," Serli wrote in an e-mail to The Armenian Reporter. "The timing was beautiful. I had just moved back to Washington, D.C. from Yerevan where I had been living for two years. Having an image from Armenia on display in D.C. immediately forged a connection in my mind between the two places I was calling home."
Setting for this year's winning photo is from the Black Sea region of Hemshin in north-eastern Turkey.
"I ended up in Hemshin after hearing the folk group, VOVA, perform in Yerevan the summer of 2008," Serli explained. "VOVA is a Hemshinli folk group from Turkey. The music carried a tribal energy, very rich, mysterious, hypnotic. It had familiar traces of both the Armenian folk and the Turkish music I had grown-up with. My parents were born and raised in Istanbul. I myself, am an American-Armenian."
"Upon hearing VOVA's sound I decided I would explore this place Hemshin. A year later, I made it there with a camera, a backpack and an amazing travel partner, Laëtitia.
"I had anticipated a very different experience from the one I got. Rather than photographing, the majority of my time was spent listening, observing, and getting aquatinted with Hemshin and the Hemshinli.
"For those of you as unfamiliar with Hemshin as I was, I will share a little of what I learned about it. The Hemshin community is situated in an isolated mountainous region along the Black Sea coast of Turkey. At one time, many of the Hemshin people were known to be Armenians who had fled the Ottoman Empire. Initially associating themselves with the Armenian people, over time, their identity changed.
"This community is a hybrid of cultures, including the Armenian and the Turkish, and yet thrives on an identity exclusive to the emerged people, the Hemshinli.
"My photograph, Summer Fall, is a nice display of the energy of the youth, perhaps of our generation, and the energy I will take when heading back with my camera, a backpack and a friend. I was and am intrigued to continue my experience in the region, community and culture. I look forward to my return in Hemshin."