I visited Kapan once in the past five years, briefly passing through the town with no time to explore it. This time I had to take the same route, applying yet an unfamiliar practice to this place – photography.
Within five-six hours, the plain landscape would slowly transform into mountainous scenery. The road changed when Goris was left behind. It was mainly the same winding serpentine road with ubiquitous trucks driving against the backdrop of the landscape, this time on a narrow road.
I had to capture not only scenes appearing on the road, but all the places connecting me with the town: the house, where I was born, Nzhdeh Square with its once a “seaside” mood, the newsstand next to the post office, the woman selling magazines on the bank of the river and so on.
The rain that started shortly after I reached the town, killed any motivation to work.
My camera and the house I used to live in and everything that surrounded me felt so strange and unfamiliar to me. Taking even one shot seemed quite a challenge.
On my second day, the war in Artsakh broke out. Neither was I ready to tell a personal story, nor was the town reluctant to unfold its stories. As I was paralyzed to tell about the town, I decided to find people who had been living there for a long time and ask them to do that instead of me.
On my friend’s advice, I went to Kapan Drama Theatre and soon got to know young people living an active life in the town. With their help, I tried to find the answers to the questions I had come for.
I don’t have a specific profession, as I am keen on trying every trade and I see myself in each. I am also an actor and have been in acting since an early age. Later, I became involved in modelling: ads, photo shoots. It became clear for me that this market is a bit complicated in Armenia. So, I decided to look for international markets, and it worked.
I am a fashion model now, collaborating with FP Models.
I can say that there is no fashion industry in Kapan, as there is no interest in this field. But Kapan has great potential to organize and host successful fashion shows. It can be turned into a town of fashion.
For now, I try to work as a model here and travel whenever I have collaborations. I do a lot more in Kapan than I would do in Yerevan.
I also work at a car factory as a metal worker. I didn’t even know how to drive a car or start the engine before, but I learned over time. It’s more of a source of income.
I am playing in ‘Syunik’ football club. I have been playing football for 12 years already.
There are not many pastimes in Kapan compared to those in bigger cities, but if you want to find something, you will surely do.
Summer pulls in lots of young people, and the mood of the town changes, which helps you organize your pastime. However, compared to other towns of Armenia – where no one is out after 19:00, and the places seem deserted – the picture is different in Kapan. It’s dark now, but if we go out, you will see young and elder people there.
Besides, Kapan is a safe town. You are not much criticized for things here. The new generation, in particular, is always ready to accept you.
Little by little, football is developing here, and rock music as well.
There are guys with long hair in our team other than me, and some other things too have become normal for the town. Many people here know me already, and no one gives me strange looks.
Kapan may also be a good starting point for young football players to move to better teams in the future. In fact, you should always aim for the maximum, and that is beyond the boundaries of Kapan, but it can be a good start to reach new heights.
People watching our game are of different age groups: adults who have missed football, children for whom footballers are idols, and the youth for whom it’s a form of entertainment. A truly major event for the fans is when the two Kapan teams play against each other.
Writing and reading are the only things I do apart from my work. But if everything goes well, years later or in the near future, I might buy a piece of land and set up greenhouses. These are just abstract goals, hanging in the air. Years later – depending on ever-changing demand – we will decide what to plant in the greenhouse.
I see myself doing some work on the land. When you work on the land, your energy reaches a balance with the planet.
I cannot imagine myself being away from Kapan. I cannot think of opening the window and not seeing mountains there. However, we are in a constant state of waiting here, whether you like it or not. After the events that took place in Artsakh, and on my return from Goris to Kapan, I realized that even though it all happened a sky or two mountains away, the town next to it is dulled and doesn’t feel that. I returned to Kapan, and the atmosphere of calm here annoyed me.
You can be free and have a nationalistic thinking at the same time. I don’t think that anyone can turn up and say they love this country more than I do, because of my liberal thinking. You love your homeland as much as you are ready to.
We are tough like our mountains, though the tougher we seem, the more fragile we are inside. In fact, there is a huge difference between people living in the mountains and those on plains. We are rude, but we need protection.
I’ve been in the theater for a long time now, and everyone here is young. New young people come and form groups. Youth is everywhere: in the town and in culture.
That said, we keep going. We are staying here, and I assure you that we are not in any way lagging behind other places.
There was a pub here, where we used to gather. But as most of us are in the theatre, we either meet here or in the studio or at someone’s house. We have conversations, discussions, film screenings, we listen to new music, or write new poems, and we keep on working on that. So, we don’t necessarily need a place to go as we are able to create that place ourselves.
I haven’t been good at studying since my school years. The only thing I had a knack for was music: playing the guitar, sing…
We have a band now; it’s been a year and a half. I write lyrics and music of my songs. Before going to Goris, my songs were about love. On returning from Goris after the events in Artsakh, I wrote two texts and realized that my lyrics lack any positive emotion. I like what I’ve written. There is overall progress but nothing positive: just hatred, despair and things like that.
In 2020, I was younger and didn’t fully realize the scale of what had happened, which I eventually did when I went to Goris this time.
Our lifestyle has changed, and that’s normal.
Even if I leave Kapan for a while, I will come back. Most of the residents feel free only in this town. I feel squeezed when I am away from Kapan.
As for the free mindset here, we are striving for it, but I can’t tell that we get good results.
I have close friends in their 30s and 40s. They are absolutely free thinkers and have been living in Kapan all their life. I don’t know why my generation tends to degrade again. We are going back to old traditions.
It may seem that it is hard to find a job for a designer in Kapan, but it isn’t so. There are plenty of workplaces. It might be a flower shop or a tailor shop. I could never have imagined I would work in the theatre, although I lived nearby. I wouldn’t say it gives a lot of opportunities to a designer, but it is not the opposite either.
I am also involved in the design of pavilions for different events taking place in the town.
I make various photo booths, and I do it every year. For next month, I am getting ready for the festival of ‘korkot’ (traditional Armenian dish).
I believe that professional growth doesn’t depend on where you are. It’s the 21st century, and we have plenty of available educational resources. I didn’t know how to make a dress, but I had to do that for a play. So, I learnt and made it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. As was the case when I made a poster for another play for the first time.
Occasionally, there are different events happening in the town for youth. Fair enough, it’s a borderline town and whether you like it or not, the challenges are a bit different here. But in many other ways, the town is free. You can even see families walking in the town till late at night. Everyone is dressed as they like and do what they want…
Even the mood of the town is different. It’s a small town and, like it or not, you know everyone here. Ask any shopkeeper about anyone, and they will tell you what cigarettes that person smokes or what they normally buy from the shop.
You greet most of the people you meet in the streets, which is good. Say, my elder brother knows 90% of people here, and once he was told that his brother had a ponytail.
My mom was told I was smoking in the street as if there was anything bad about it.
But I don’t care at all. I still catch strange looks because of my hairstyle, even for its color.
I was thinking of staying in Kapan before the war. I will stay even now. I wouldn’t say for 100% though, but for 95% I am still here. When I feel that I have reached a point when there is no interesting work for me to do, I will leave. But there are so many things here I haven’t tried yet and things I am going to try.