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Women of Artsakh: Dreaming independence and peace

Women of Artsakh: Dreaming independence and peace

PanARMENIAN.Net - Italian photographer Karl Mancini has created a project about the women of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), titled Dreaming Independence and Peace and first published on Maptia.

"From the simple family mother to the minister of culture and youth affairs, from the common employee in a beauty salon to the head of the supreme court of justice, women are the soul of Karabakh, the strength of this country; in some ministries they account for 80% of the personnel. They dream of independence and peace to build a different future for their children. They love intensely, fight tenaciously, often suffer in silence, and believe in their traditions. They are brave and fragile," the story says on Maptia.

In a conversation with PanARMENIAN.Net Mancini – who works for Echo Photojournalism and has together with Gianmarco Maraviglia implemented another project in Karabakh, titled Blooming in the Black Garden – said that he has dedicated a major part of his work to female stories, also seeking to prepare a project in a country he loves. And Artsakh seemed to be a natural choice.

His previous project, Blooming was published on Newsweek (USA), Internazionale (Italy) and La Croix (France).

“As I already said, it wasn’t my first trip to Karabakh where I had already realized the Blooming in the Black Garden project. I fell in love with Yerevan and Karabakh the very first moment I found myself there. The people were friendly, doing their utmost to support my work from the very beginning. I've been in a total of 87 countries in the past 12 years addressing social issues like violence against women and other women-related issues, genocides, minority oppression, consequences of war. My colleague Gianmarco Maraviglia came up with the idea of visiting Artsakh as we wanted to document unrecognized countries through the eyes of young generations, born after the declaration of independence,” Mancini said.

According to the photographer, Armenians are very instinctive and emotional, straightforward in expressing their true feelings and quite honest if they have anything to tell you.

“They are stubborn and traditional. I am not really traditional but I love simple things in life as they do. Women are amazing. Their love lasts forever, they are very brave and, at the same time, fragile. I love making female stories because women are not afraid to show their lives and open up while telling me their stories. While men often need to pretend to look stronger, women struggle every day, facing hostilities in many parts of the world,” Mancini said.

“I grew up with women as my father is the only man in our family, and 95% of my friends are female.”

“I believe the women of Artsakh have a lot to say. They support the men on the frontline, suffering in silence and sustaining families alone,” he added.

“One day, I spent several hours with a female friend of mine in a wonderful place in Artsakh in the middle of nature just telling each other stories. I'll never forget that moment, those simple emotions that should serve as a basis for every kind of relationship,” Mancini added.

“Of course, I do see beauty in women but making a portrait is not just about taking a photo. It’s like a gift that I receive and give back with my story. Everything becomes an exchange of emotions.”

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan broke out as result of the ethnic cleansing launched by the Azeri authorities in the final years of the Soviet Union. The Karabakh War was fought from 1991 (when the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was proclaimed) to 1994 (when a ceasefire was sealed by Armenia, NKR and Azerbaijan). Most of Nagorno Karabakh and a security zone consisting of 7 regions are now under control of NKR defense army. Armenia and Azerbaijan are holding peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group up till now.

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