Enduring Nostalgia & Starting Over | Baku To Rhode Island | A Photographer’s Story

My uncle Viktor’s hands.
October, 2003

 

Photographer Dennis Yermoshin is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From ‘My Fellow Americans’ project.  To see Dennis’ body of work click on any image.

 

My friend’s son, Ivan; a first generation American.
December, 2005

 

My parents, Carina and Michael.
June, 2005

 

I was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1982. My family and I came to America as refugees in 1991, as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh War which started shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow directed us to locate to Providence, Rhode Island. We did (we had no preference, like many other refugees). We were the first members of our family to come to America, so over the years my immediate family was instrumental in helping our extended family move to the United States. My family quickly developed strong friendships with other refugee and immigrant families that settled in Rhode Island, most of whom also came from Azerbaijan. These friendships slowly formed a social group, united by common culture.

 

Touchdown
October, 2004

 

Funny story
November, 2006

 

My uncle, at his job.
December, 2004

 

I began photographing my family and friends eleven years after I came to America, while enrolled in my first photography class at the university. The focus was to explore the different generations of Soviet immigrants and refugees who came to Rhode Island during the 1990’s. By photographing my subjects in their homes, at their jobs, in their neighborhoods – the environments that they inhabited on a daily basis, I wanted to capture the relationships that they have developed to and within these places ever since moving to America. Fascinated with the idea that the foundation of America was built by immigrants, I wanted to explore the roles that we play in American life; as workers, as parents, as siblings, as friends – as Americans.

 

Gossip
October, 2005

 

Irina, seven months pregnant in the room where she grew up.
November, 2006

 

This series is about a reconstruction of a life left behind. It is a portrait of my family and friends; a specific group of people who, due to the failure of the Soviet government, ended up in America. Through these photographs I explore the process of adaptation and the endurance of nostalgia – two unconditional aspects of immigrant life.

 

My aunt in the kitchen of her family’s first apartment in America.
March, 2003

 

My father’s medallion.
It was given to him as a gift from my mother, shortly after they both gained US citizenship in 1998.
June, 2005

 

All images & text © Dennis Yermoshin

 

 

See also:

The Vikings

By Dennis Yermoshin

 

 

 

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