Fig Tree Gallery Shows
Shoes I and Shoes II, Fall 2015
I Often Dream of Her
2013 (No. 2 of 3 panels)
Wishing Tree: Landscape I and II
Je suis ni Akhbar ni Hayastantsi
H. Antaramian Hofman
18" x 24"
Charcoal and Crayon on paper, with Overlay with ink and spray paint
My drawings and paintings symbolize the 'fragmentation' of displaced people, stemming from issues of cultural identity and the struggle to maintain the continuity of tradition.
At the same time, the works are statements of hope, survival, and spirit. These are the things that interest me the most.
PROJECT CONTINUES through the website and documentary film work of Versus Studio. http://www.hayrenadardz.org/en/
Notes to the Artist
Thanks, thanks for the great presentation [March 21, 2013] of a mostly sore subject for many of us. It certainly brought back memories that have been dormant for years...[and] a subject that was chiefly dormant in our collective memory."
Zabel Chookaszian Melconian
1947 Repatriate from New York
Note received by artist on 26 March 2013
I have re-read your essay on 'Repatration and Deception'...you have been brilliant in finding a way to examine not only a personal history but in the larger context of a people's historical contextual search for fulfillment...I am fascinated by your accomplishments and offer my deepest respect and congratulations on your creative scholarship."
Former Curator of Fresno Art Museum
Note received by artist on 28 March 2013
"Thank you, Hazel, for addressing this very important historical issue through your art and writings. I admire your scholarly research, diplomacy and creative approach to exploring the complexities of the Armenian repatriation. I look forward to your exhibition opening."
Assistant Development Director
College of Arts and Humanities
California State University
Comments to artist on 20 March 2013
I am fascinated by the historic migration of humans, both forced and voluntary, and the cross-cultural aspects of such social issues. As a young child I never fully understood my place within this anthropological phenomenon, that is, being born in the Soviet Union to an American-Armenian father and a French-Armenian mother at the height of the cold war. I have now come to address this part of who I am, through the lives of the post-World War II Armenian repatriates. My project documents the historic and ethnographic path of Armenians in the Diaspora from the 1940s to the 1960s. While my parents came from the United States and France, other families came from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, China, among other countries.
My work is multifaceted, in that it encompasses writing, studio art, and lecture presentations, all inspired by the history of the repatriation, including collected ethnographic photographs and stories from my personal interviews. I am humbled to hear the stories from those who experienced this time of history and lived under the ruthless regime of Josef Stalin. During interviews, I am emotionally moved when I see tears in the eyes of repatriates recounting their stories. These are the young children and youthful adults, who, at the time, were compelled to leave their hometowns with their families to an unknown Sovietized Armenia. The movement was not necessarily a "repatriation" since hardly any were born in the small fragment of Armenia that remained. Many of those who responded to nationalistic appeals in the late 1940s, which were made by repatriation committees and other organizations, fled the Ottoman Empire during the turn of the 20th century. Their nostalgic gesture to uproot their "diasporan" families to the land they thought was ancient Armenia was met with despair: psychologically, spiritually, economically, and physically.
This website is a work in progress with the on-going task of providing additional excerpted video interviews of repatriates, along with more archival photographs, artwork, and links to other sources on the subject. The site also informs interested viewers about upcoming events, including lecture presentations, exhibitions of my work, and future plans on the historical and ethnographic documentation of the post-World War II Repatriation to Soviet Armenia.
The following provides a brief description of the lecture presentation associated with this project. Please feel free to contact me about it and include "repatriation lecture" in the subject line: [email protected]
Artist and Lecturer: Hazel Antaramian Hofman, M.A., M.Sc.
Approximate Time: 60 minutes
Presentation Format and Content: Illustrated PowerPoint/Video format, the lecture of the ethnographic history of the post-WWII Armenian Repatriation is primarily comprised of selected accounts and biographical information from interviews of surviving repatriates, selected black and white photographs, and archival material. As an artist, I respond to this history with art, music, but most of all, with the stories and images that I have collected from interviews of repatriates. I use these sources to provide the audience with a unique understanding and appreciation of early cultural life in Soviet Armenia from those who directly experienced this little known historical event during the final years of Stalin's grip on the country.
To Khachig Crosby,
A worthy son of a worthy father who has worked as enthusiastically, sincerely for the Armenian cause through the Armenian National Council of America.
With best wishes for a successful and useful career in the land of our fathers.
Charles A. Vertanes
(his name also signed in Armenian)
Autograph book of Crosby Phillian signed by Rev. Charles Vertanes of Massachusetts. The ANCA referenced is the organization of the 1940s and has no relation to the organization of today which has the same name. I made a copy of the message while visiting Crosby in March 2014.
During my visit with Crosby Phillian in March, we discussed his father's interrogation papers and we juxtaposed a photo of Alex and his wife to the NKVD arrest photo of him taken only a few months later.
The change shows the strain and stress of a man who was ostensibly thrown in one of Stalin's cauldrons. Alexander Phillian was convicted in 1950 and sent to a hard labor camp in Kazakhstan.
See Special Interview Excerpts page.
Photograph taken by artist in the home of American-Armenian Crosby Phillian, Paris, France, March 26, 2014.
INTERVIEW SOUND BITES
In January 1949, Johnny and I went to Batumi to meet my parents and two younger brothers who came on the second American caravan. We could see them on top of the docked ship. While waiting for them to get off of the ship, I started talking to Johnny in my Eastern Armenian, then I heard my folks say to each other, "look, they're already speaking Russian."
Personal Interview, Paul Antaramian
When the Soviet Armenian community block leader asked my father why he wanted to leave Armenia, my father shook his head. It was around 1965 at the time. The block leader said, Comrade Antaramian, 'you have a nice home now and you are doing well. Your sons have work, they are married, and they have young children who can grow up in Armenia, why are you leaving? Asadour Antaramian said, I was born in Turkey and I had to leave, so I went to the United States. There I got married to a woman who had grown up in an orphanage in Syria before arriving to Chicago. My sons were born in the United States. My wife and I wanted to go to Armenia, it was as close as we could be to our places of birth. Now my sons want to go to their places of birth. What can I tell them? '
Personal Interview between Richard Kalinoski and Massey (Mesrop) Antaramian
"When my mother told me that our family was being sent into exile, I remember it well. I was 10 years old and I asked her if Stalin Babig (Grandfather) knew about it...When he died, we were so happy and we all said, 'choona merav," [the dog died].
Ganna Gasparian, Local Armenian.
She was born in 1902 in Keghig, a province near Erzurum. Historical circumstances made her a New Yorker. Then in 1947, she repatriated with her husband to their Hayrenik. As with the other repatriates, she quickly became disillusioned. But unlike the others, she did not keep quiet about what she saw and what she experienced. In 1950, she was arrested by the Soviet secret police and interrogated for months. Accused of spreading anti-Soviet propaganda, she was sentenced into exile. She served six years until she was released after the death of Stalin. Her name was Alice (Haiganoush) Papazian.
Obtained by author from MGB (predecessor of the KGB) files in the National Archives of Armenia, December 2013.
"My father was arrested in the middle of the night of March 10 or 11, 1949. We were in the country for two weeks. From what I can recall, there was a pounding on the door. I remember seeing men in uniform. The commanding officer was Armenian. I remember seeing a Russian soldier. My father gathered a few articles of clothing and they took him away....The night that my father was arrested [and the NKVD (KGB)] announced that my father was under arrest, my mother started crying and said, 'Is this what we came to Armenia for? ' At the time I was dazed, I was 15 1/2 years old, my brother 7 years old.."
Letter to Richard Kalinoski,
Crosby Phillian, American-Armenian,
8 December 2013 .
"I remember my mother having an incident with a soviet female leeazor [community block leader]. My mother was a devout Christian and she had displayed a large cross that she got from France on the wall opposite the front door. When the leazor came by one day to check on things, she told my mother [who had bought some safety by giving the leazor some children's clothing for her son] to remove the cross and put Stalin's picture in its place. My mother did what she was told. We all lived in fear."
French-Armenian Virginia Hekimian.
24 September 2013
"My parents had agreed to go to Armenia since my maternal grandparents had decided to go (we were all living together [in New York] as one family for many years and we left the country on the same boat. Two weeks after arriving in Armenia (February 25, 1949) on the eve of March 10 [or] 11, my father [Alex Phillian] was arrested by the then NKVD, now its the KGB."
Letter in Response to Questions.
American-Armenian Crosby Phillian.
4 February 2008
"They tried to recruit me to spy on other repatriates. I was a mental wreck and I lost sleep. Their tactics were agonizing. For nearly two years, on and off, they would follow me and assign a secret place to meet. A person couldn't just say 'no.' Sometimes they would set up meetings and I wouldn't show up. It was a cat and mouse game. I was only 21 or 22 years old."
American-Armenian Paul Antaramian.
13 June 2013
"You are not going to get bread before my children.'
American-Armenian Christine Karibian L.,
on the story of her mother, Jean, who scolded the Soviet Armenian policeman when he pushed himself ahead of her in the bread line,
23 June 2013
"I remember sleeping on top of a tractor in the summer because it was so hot inside and there were bed bugs in the building."
American-Armenian Semon Hachikian
15 August 2012
ABOVE: The 'American's House' in the late 1950s/early 1960s. A group of performers on the street in front of it. Quite a picture! Look at the construction material of the houses next to it in comparison. Several apricot trees were planted in front of it.
Photograph Courtesy of Massey (Mesrop) Antaramian.
ABOVE: The 'American's house' as it stands today.
It was built in the early 1950s, in Yerevan, near Monument, by the Antaramians and Phillians, American-Armenians repatriates.
The house still retains many of the interior features built in the original construction, including American hardwood floors, glass doorknobs, wood door frames, window frames, and indoor bathroom features. It was considered state-of-the-art in home construction and tours were later given to students at the Polytechnic Institute nearby. It was also the only one built at the time with the volcanic stone known as "tuff." This was the material used to build churches in Armenia over hundreds of years.
Photograph by artist/author in December 2013.
The hardwood floors, as shown to me by Ararat Danielyan, the current owners of 46 Vertanes Papazian. As I was being led to the house by filmmakers and gracious "guides," Tigran Paskevichyan and Satenik Faramazyan, Ararat's son, Aksel, walked out just in time for me to use the opportunity to determine how much he knew about the house. Fortunately, the history of the house had been passed along.
Photograph by artist/author in December 2013.