ANDREEA TĂNASE, a Romanian woman with an Armenian soul about the ARMENIANS IN ROMANIA project

“I have realized this project with my soul …”

E.A. – We all have already learned about your ARMENIANS IN ROMANIA project, but for a start, we believe it would be appropriate to emphasize once more the matter and let us know – how was this project born?

A.T. – I have read much about the Armenian Genocide, I have documented, but in the end, at least in the Romanian media, I’ve realized that very few things are known about this matter. People doesn’t know quite well what happened then with the Armenians. I felt that I too should do something in this regard. I came to the Ararat editorial office and I began to know the Armenian community. When I started to collect material about the Armenians in Romania, I realized that I won’t be sticking only to a story or something similar. So I decided to do a photo documentary which is actually a photo album, and not only because it also contains detailed texts, history and life stories, interviews with the ones I’ve chosen to appear in the photos, as representatives of the community.

E.A. – You have also encountered some problems…

A.T. – Yes, I have encountered some minor problems. Sometimes it was not at all easy to talk to people, but in the end, I’ve managed to do so. Back to the matter, the text also includes historical references, I’ve explained how the Armenians came here in Romania. So, I’ve started the project when I came to you at Ararat and we’ve talked, in the beginning, about the important moments lived by the Armenian community in Romania, about the local branches. I have chosen to pursue the chain of events that happened around or inside the Armenian Church. Mainly the religious events. It was a 3 years’ work until I succeeded to I finalize this project.

E.A. – But I know that, in this project, you didn’t focus only on the matter of the Armenians in Romania. I know that you also went to the Republic of Moldavia, to Bulgaria and finally to Armenia to better document…

A.T. – Yes, I went to Moldavia because many things connects us with the Armenians back there. There at the Armenian Church is also the tomb of Manuc Bey. Then I went   to Hânceşti, where his domain and manor are situated. Now it is in a process of restoration, back then it was a ruin. In Bulgaria, there has been a different story, I went there on the thread of the story I issued around the Baronian-Paronyan family. They are and have been quite involved in the Armenian community. All the members of this family. I have chosen the story of this family as being, somewhat, the most representative, with all the present generations. This is how we arrived in Bulgaria, Mr. Johnny Baronian wanted to visit the Ruse Armenian Church, where his grandfather built the altar. We went there and also did a photo report.

E.A. – Back to the Armenians in Romania, I know that you have also travelled a lot in Transylvania, to our catholic brothers…

Moment de la deschiderea expoziției

A.T. – Yes, it was somehow initiatory and different. The Armenians here, in the Southern part of the country, are much more aware of their roots somehow in connection to the Ottoman Empire, they know perfectly their Armenian-hood. They do not need anybody to tell them how and where to look for their roots. Those in the region of Transylvania, of which only a few still speak Armenian, rediscovered themselves in the past few years. Now, those in the region of Transylvania are very receptive to any element linked to Armenian-hood, gathering it in their baggage and are very happy and proud of it. Which is to be praised! Somehow, they rediscover their identity and tell everywhere and whenever they have the opportunity to do it that they are proud of their Armenian roots.

E.A. – So, you’ve been in all the Armenian communities in Romania, in all our centers. And yet, personally, I would like to ask you, where, in which community or, more specifically, to which community do you feel connected?

A.T. – It is very hard to say. I felt the same affection everywhere. However, the Armenian Community in Bucharest is the closest to me. I know this community best and I have many close friends here. And here I have also found the most interesting life stories. A particular story is Lusine Navasardyan’s story (also from the Paronyan family) but you will learn more when you will have my album.

E.A. – In this context, you have arrived for the first time in Armenia. I have to specify that in all your journeys you went on you own expenses, without any sponsorship. You were already familiar with the life stories from here, with what the Motherland means to us…

A.T. – Yes, I went on my own expenses and with great and own strides. I arrived in Armenia because I wanted to link the community here, the stories here, to the Motherland. At Erevan, I have first looked for the Armenians originating in Romania, those who have been repatriated after 1945 in the Soviet Armenia, or their descendants. Their stories are as dramatic as impressive. They have remained linked to Romania, primarily they speak extremely well Romanian. They have remained connected to the Romanian reality, through relatives, through the Romanian Embassy or only through the memories they have lived or were told by their parents who lived here in Romania. And everywhere one can feel the presence of the regretted Patriarch Catolicos Vasken I, originating from Romania. I took advantage of the opportunity and I went to Karabagh. But this is a different story.

E.A. – Your project, your album is already finalized…



A.T. – Yes, I have realized this project with my soul and it is almost done, we have already done the proofing. Initially, we thought about a 600 copies edition, we’ll see, depending of the orders. It will be in Romanian and English and the book has 400 pages and around 500 photographs. I did not have any financing. That’s why I thought to sell the book in pre-sale system, by orders.

E.A. – I know that recently you went again to Armenia, this time being invited. Does this have something to do with your project?

Expoziția de la Gyumri

A.T. –   Yes, somehow this is part of the promotion of the project, of the photo album. I have been invited to participate at a photo exhibition in Gyumri (the actual cultural capital of the CSI space). I have participated alongside quite well-known photographers: Zaven Sargsyan, director of the Sergei Parajanov Museum in Erevan, Hrair Hawk Khatcherian – Canada, Misha Nechaev – Russia, Ewa Abgarowicz – Polonia and Iurie Foca – Republic of Moldavia. The exhibition was named On Armenian traces. It was intended to be and was a highlight on the Armenian inheritance worldwide. My photos have put emphasis on the Armenian Community in Romania and have been much appreciated because I came up with a different vision, from a journalistic perspective of my own. I want to thank, in particular, the Republic of Armenia Embassy in Bucharest who has facilitated the presence at this exhibition, as well as the Armenian Union of Romania, who offered me the funds to achieve my photo prints. Visitors had the opportunity to see what the Armenian Community in Romania means. On this occasion, I have also received invitations to participate to other equally interesting photo exhibitions in Romania and Armenia. The photos remained there in order to join a new itinerant exhibition. I had also a meeting with the students of the Fine Arts Faculty of Gyumri, a subsidiary of the Yerevan Arts Academy, who were very interested in the matter of the Armenian Community in Romania. I was surprised to find that they did not know much about the Armenians in Romania. I have also had two meetings, one at the Ministry of Culture of Armenia, which showed interest in supporting my project, and another meeting with the representatives of AGBU-UGAB, which also want to support my project. It remains to be seen how. So, from my point of view, this trip of mine in Armenia has been more than fruitful. We must not forget to mention that the Armenian Union in Romania is interested in supporting my project and had already ordered a significant number of copies of my book. My book will be promoted by the Ministry of Culture of Armenia at the London Book Fair in April.

E.A. – Thank you, Andreea. For us, for the Armenian Community in Romania, this project of yours means a lot, much more than it seems at first sight. We hope that you will not stop here.


Photos by Misha Nechaev and Andreea Tănase

Translation by Bogdan Hladiuc

Posted by on Mar 26 2014. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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