Lucine Kasbarian's Perspectives from Exile
Lucine Kasbarian's Perspectives from Exile
By Betty Apigian-Kessel
The Armenian Weekly
May 6, 2016
There is no doubt that the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 remains a raw, gnawing open sore on those of us who will never forget the horrible stain on human history.
Lucine Kasbarian’s Perspectives of Exile was the final exhibition in the Kiss the Ground Series-Yergurbakootyoon organized to examine and celebrate contemporary Armenian art commemorating the Armenian Genocide. It was a six part series in which fourteen other Armenian-Americans participated at the Cambridge School of Weston in Massachusetts.
Todd Bartel, Gallery Director, and Curator Thompson Gallery at the Cambridge School of Weston states, “I am most thankful to have had the great fortune of teaming up with Lucine Kasbarian, who helped our school audience understand the power of the observations and cultural juxtapositions that her art so compelling explores.”
Kasbarian is a second generation American-born woman of Armenian heritage who in her writing and cartoons is outspoken about the injustice of the Armenian Genocide by its perpetrators, the Ottoman government and its successor state of Turkey. The New Jersey and Massachusetts resident has been the beneficiary of her American-Armenian born parents and her survivor grandparents who dedicated themselves to passing on to her the customs and language of her ancestors -- which included humor, politics, and the arts.
It was the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink by a Turkish gunman in front of Dink’s newspaper office in Istanbul in 2007 that was the impetus in Kasbarian’s career as a political cartoonist. Dink advocated Turkish-Armenian dialogue to foster human and minority rights in Turkey and it became his downfall culminating in his cowardly assassination.
It was only a short time before Dink’s death that many Detroit community residents had the privilege of meeting the affable gentlemen at a lecture and reception at the Armenian Congregational Church.
It cannot be denied that Kasbarian’s lectures and cartoons have become very valuable tools demonstrating the struggles, frustrations, and arguments about the intergovernmental politics she and her fellow Armenians navigate on a daily basis.
Kasbarian’s now has dozens of cartoons in her portfolio, chronicling Armenian political affairs and they are becoming well-known and sought after. Her work expresses the frustration and anger possessed by Armenians world over by the lack of respect shown to the first genocide of the 20th century.
One of her most compelling cartoons is entitled, “One Man’s Terrorist is Another Man’s Freedom-Fighter.”
Kasbarian’s cartoons are an exceptional collection of her thought provoking art form. There are different forms of free speech and Kasbarian’s use of cartoons are hard-hitting to the point, edgy. Bravo to Lucine for bravely not remaining silent.
As a woman, writing about another female I am continually haunted by the history of the rape and sale of Armenian girls and women into slavery. The anger and abomination towards the savages who did this never evaporates.
Kasbarian is an amazing woman. She is Zabel and Joan of Arc rolled into one. Her cartoons hit your nerve more than just enlightening and being thought provoking.
Among the books written by Kasbarian are The Greedy Sparrow, Armenia- A Rugged Land, and Enduring People. She is a journalist, activist, as well as cartoonist.
She has a Bachelor of Arts and Journalism, Minors in Studio Art and Political Science at New York University with graduate courses in Cartooning at the NY School of Visual Arts.
It needs to be said: Turkey remains a cauldron of hate against Christian minorities as represented by the genocide and the murder of Hrant Dink. Its murderous activates even extend to its Kurdish citizens.
Even though my residence is on Mullett Lake, I often retreat to a park on Burt Lake. I was submerged in familiar sorrow unaware rain had started to fall as I read Kasbarian’s words telling of her group tour to Der Zor, the Syrian Desert where Armenians were forcibly walked in their diseased, starving, thirsty condition and on death’s trail. Lucine said, “As I stood apart from the group, I knew we had been given the rare opportunity to viscerally sense the thirst, hunger, and agony that our martyrs and survivors had endured.”
She added, “Many voyagers has scratched the surface of Der Zor and found the skulls and bones of the murdered Armenians, I stared at the sand and through my tears quietly stood saying ‘hank-jeh-tsek’ (may you rest) an Armenian repose of the souls.”
It is difficult to digest Lucine’s following words:
“Our group gathered on a bridge over the Euphrates River. Local Syrian boys seeking respite from the heat jumped into the river, the same river into which we tossed flowers remembering all the Armenian girls and women who committed suicide, flinging themselves into the same waters during the Genocide to avoid rape and abduction by the Turks.” At this point, I looked up from my reading to witness the raindrops, like tears, gently flowing down my windshield just as years ago I had witnessed “the tears” dropping gently from the urn atop the tall Martyrs Monument at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
The tears are a sign, they represent our collective Armenian people, the martyrs and those living who mourn and privately sob for ancestors we never knew and yet as women we have to endure to let the wrenching of our souls continue because we toil to obtain justice for our martyrs and the Armenian Mt. Ararat that will always belong to us.
Perspectives of Exile can be obtained from Lulu.com ($24.00). Enter the book’s title. This is a small investment for a keepsake book with a thorough explanation about the ravages of the Genocide, including a chapter on the year 2015: “Where We Have Come, Where Are We Going.”