I had the pleasure of joining resident artist Lewis Batros this morning to document and view the progress made on the Assyrian Genocide Memorial Statue. While many of the photos remain self-explanatory, the statue remains a hotly debated topic around not only the Fairfield electorate, where it is to be erected, but around the world as well.
Upon first entering the space designated for the creation of the first phase of the statue, I was oddly entreated by the artist's retreat; whether it was clay the strewn over the floor, or the damp and cool ambience of the low lit room, or perhaps just being awake before midday, there was a certain weight to the air that savoured somewhat of bitterness but also of victory and even a little justice.
As the soft light entered and draped itself across the statue, the magnitude of the events of the last five months slowly began to weigh in on me. Even after capturing the first few frames, I realised not only how odd it is that I am an Assyrian Photographer documenting something unprecedented, but ironically, that we are all testament to the suffering and plague that beset our people in Diaspora. I stood witness to a monumental (intended) leap in setting right an injustice served against 750,000 people in Ottoman Turkey nearly a century ago. I took a few photos too.
This statue, though it stands over four meters tall, is but a small token - it is in part a token of gratitude that will live within the hearts of those that admire and appreciate what it is to be thankful for - that is the sacrifice of our forefathers. Further than that, it is a token by which we can show the world at large how much we, as a race, have toiled, suffered and witnessed: we are the victims of the worst horrors of humanity - that is the act of Genocide.
A thousand fold more than it being a reminder to the world at large of our plight and suffering, is the simple fact that this statue will serve as a token and as a statement that regardless of the whim and vicissitudes of fate - We, Assyrians Will Never Forget.