Santa Barbara.

Photographs and Text by Diana Markosian. Text by Lynda Myles.
Aperture, New York, 2020. 216 pp., 8½x11".



Publisher's Description

Santa Barbara is the debut monograph by Diana Markosian, a talented artist who works at the intersection of photography and film.

Intertwining the notion of the American dream, the romance of captivating 1990s soap operas, and her own personal history, the book is a compelling reconstruction of Markosian’s family’s first years in the United States after leaving Russia in the 1990s. The book features more than one hundred images, including staged scenes, film stills, and family pictures, in which the photographer reenacts the story of how her mother, Svetlana, became a mail-order bride in 1996, moving to the US with her two young children. Markosian follows this journey, from the disillusionment of post-Soviet Moscow to her own upbringing in Santa Barbara, California.

The retelling of Markosian’s migration story is enhanced by a stylistically mediated outlook, as though real-life events were episodes from the soap opera Santa Barbara―the first American show allowed on Russian television in the 1990s. In other moments, the story is told through the adaptation of polaroids and family album snapshot-style images. Picturing the hopes of Markosian’s mother to provide a different future for her children, the project emphasizes the hypercharged symbolism of the opportunities of America and the West, while serving as a personal reflection of the artist’s family history. Images are woven together with a script written by Markosian in collaboration with one of the original Santa Barbara writers, Lynda Myles, and is the basis for a new short film directed by the artist. Encapsulating different styles and storytelling techniques, Markosian proves to be at the forefront of a new generation of photographers pushing the boundaries of documentary.


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