My Way Home
14.10.2015Armenian by Birth
| From Tehran, Iran | Moved in 2002
Lousineh moved to Armenia to attend Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts. She was born and raised in Iran, in a family where preserving their culture was a requisite.
“My parents, were stricter than other Armenian families in Iran, because they supported Soviet Armenia, unlike other Iranian-Armenians. But my parents’ vision of Armenia was more of a dream than a reality. Everyone had the idea that we were all going to leave Iran some day and return to Armenia, thus, they never quite considered themselves established in Iran. After Armenia’s independence, the dreams became reality. People started making connections with Armenia and visiting it more often.
Living in Iran, you always have questions about your identity: why would you live in a country where you are considered a minority and deprived of most of rights? It starts you thinking that you are really simply living; you are just existing. The sad thing about it is when you move to your homeland and still feel like a minority. Is there a place on earth where I am not marginalized?”
Lousineh considers herself lucky that she isn’t one of those people. She claims when people treat you like one of them instead of a foreigner, the problem is solved by itself. But she doesn’t exclude the fact that random people make it clear that she is a foreigner, making them seem rude for their notions. But generally she has her own circle, and doesn’t face any problems.
“The idea of returning to Armenia was there since the beginning, as if we already knew it was bound to happen. When I was younger, my grandmother would tell me that it was her dream for us to study in Armenia. I wouldn’t really understand the point of it until in 1999, when I was 14, I suggested that we spend New Year’s Eve in Yerevan. Since then, I had decided to move to Armenia, but I had to finish high school first.”
She discussed the issue with her family for a long time, she told stories about Armenia to her brother, who didn’t go with them last time, to which he replied that if he’d get accepted into university in Armenian she would finish her studies and move with him. In 2001, he moved to Armenia, and the following year Lousineh and her sister did as well.
“After all, Iran is a Muslim country, and most of the things we take for granted are prohibited there, especially for women; many activities one would expect to be available are forbidden. As for Armenia, it wasn’t just the freedom and the patriotism, but, back then the conditions were not exactly good, my university had no windows, but I had a feeling in my gut that we were going to be something; something significant and that we were going to be successful. It was going to be a new environment; I’d discover a new culture, new approach, and in that age it was fascinating. It was a big step for me to move away from my family and live in a new country, but I loved it. We would notice the difference between us and the locals, and instead of taking it seriously we would make fun at it. In the beginning I didn’t face any problems, but I had a feeling that I wasn’t fully established. In Iran, I was an Armenian, and in Armenia, I was from the diaspora. It took a long time until that feeling passed away, but for others it is still present. I consider both parties are guilty in these situations; locals acting as if foreigners are aliens, and foreigners acting superior to the locals. Thankfully, not everyone thinks this way, and most don’t look at a person’s nationality as a negative trait. Everyone should get to know everyone, and we should learn from each other.”
According to Lousineh all of the problems in Armenia should concern everyone, including herself. In a way, she sees that as a positive thing. She is a part of the people, the country, and she is no longer a minority.
“Being biracial also has its advantages: you can integrate with other nations easier, you can have a different point of view. After my graduation I worked in graphic design and did several different projects. Now I am involved a different project as a graphic designer; the first exploratory exhibition in Armenia. You can say that my contribution to my country is in the area of art, but my goal isn’t only to take up local problems, but universal issues as well. For example I took part in two exhibitions which concerned issues of women: selective abortion, to be precise. I think that art is a good way to get people to discuss issues and try to resolve them. I like the idea of creating something unexpected, as it leaves an effect on us and makes us think thoroughly about the issue. All artists should be involved in everything concerning the world, and not just the country they live in. I don’t feel like a foreigner at all, I consider myself a citizen of the world.”
Interview by Boris Yatsenko
Edit by David Tashjian