Nicolas Blandin (1982) is a self-taught French photographer based in Annecy, France. Winner of the 2017 Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards, his work has been featured in various publications both printed and online. Besides freelancing for editorial and commercial clients, Nicolas is working on several long-term projects. His first book entitled “In the Country of Stones” is now available from Another Place Press.
In the Country of Stones
The following images are an extract from the book “In the Country of Stones”, published by Another Place Press. “In the Country of Stones” invites the viewer to embark on a personal journey through Armenia — a fascinating place where memory and topography are inextricably intertwined.
I was seven years old when I first heard anything about Armenia. It was thanks to a seven-inch record played at home – “Pour toi Arménie”, the charity song written by Charles Aznavour to raise money for Armenians affected by the 1988 Spitak earthquake. Back then I couldn’t have known that over two decades later I would actually go there.
In Armenia, memory and topography are inextricably intertwined. Multiple layers of memory are visible in the landscape. There are, for instance, the imposing remnants of 71 years of Soviet rule, the scars of an earthquake that run deep in the collective memory, and the repositories of the memory of the Armenian genocide, which still lacks formal recognition from various governments around the world. The landscape also reminds us that Armenia was the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion (as early as 301 AD). Crosses not only appear in cemeteries and monasteries and carved in stone, but also incidentally in the shape of electric poles, shoe embroideries and, more surprisingly, in a Soviet monument.
The present is more elusive in this politically and geographically landlocked, post-Soviet country. But no matter how harsh the economic reality might be, daily life goes on according to its own rules and concept of time, with undeniable moments of grace and warmth.
In my photographs, I am seeking to tell my own story, as well as the stories of others, as honestly as I can. Rather than documenting the history and the landscape, my approach to both is rather more poetic and lyrical. And yet, to borrow Jocelyn Lee’s words, photographs, unlike paintings or drawings, remain “mysterious but irrefutable anchors to a real event in space and time”.