Diana Markosian in Lensculture:
The family has been an infinite well of inspiration for photographers for as long as the medium has existed. From Larry Sultan’s Pictures From Home to LaToya Ruby Frazier’s The Notion of Family, the family unit has proved a conduit for explorations of belonging, identity, strife, place, connection, injustice and more. Photographers have both worked behind the camera and stepped into the frame in order to capture the most universal of subjects, the complications and connections to those we love.
In Diana Markosian’s series Santa Barbara, a story that at first blush feels almost pulled from a movie, family—and the difficult, sometimes incomprehensible decisions made for it—are put on full display. In photographs and a film, the project deals with her family’s journey from post-Soviet Russia to America. In 1996 Markosian’s mother Svetlana, inspired by the American soap opera Santa Barbara that her family watched in Russia, placed an ad in search of a man who could help her and her children immigrate to the US. Awoken in the middle of the night, the children were informed they were going on a trip. The next day they arrived in California and their new American lives began. Markosian, in relating the story, notes how surreal this experience was to her and her family.