Fragments of a Breath

In my series Fragments of a Breath, I explore the idea of destiny and memory through old family photographs and Tasseography, the ancient fortune telling method that interprets patterns in coffee grounds.

As a grandchild of genocide survivors, I am looking at survival and the memories that we bring forth through experiencing the direct and intergenerational trauma of genocide. My grandparents and their parents did not have control over their fate and they survived instinctively looking forward rather than back. They fled from the Armenian villages that are now in Eastern Turkey where they had adopted the art of drinking unfiltered strong Turkish coffee. Tasseography began in 16th Century Ottoman Empire and is practiced throughout the Middle East. As a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, my grandparents fled to Syria then Lebanon where the ritual of drinking coffee and interpreting the coffee grounds continued.  It was a symbol of instilling control over their destiny and manifesting positivity and resilience in their lives.

For this project, my process was transferring images on to found bottles, inserting some with letters from my grandmother, and physically linking the bottles with small string lights, which serve as a symbol for memory. The lights illuminate fragments of the images, which is symbolic of how the textures of memory can be, sometimes very obvious and at other times quite difficult to recollect.

I used a macro lens to photograph the images on the bottles and the coffee grounds. This helped me focus in and capture more detail. It imitated the action of focusing in on an old family photograph trying to marry our memories with the image. Also, by going in closely to both the family pictures on the bottles and the coffee grounds, I am attempting to recreate their story and destiny.