War is an extraordinary situation for societies. It creates collective traumas and the aftermath stays mainly for people who experienced it. War is always present, there are always wars. In countries of peace we are used to get information or at least opinions about some of the current wars. They seem to drop on and off the agenda without any influence of the consumer of news.
So many wars have been forgotten, so much distruction dropped out of our focus.
The piece forgotten is about a place where war has been, where several times collective traumas occurred. It is a place where is no peace until today.
In december 2011 I travelled with two french artists to Nagorno-Karabach, a non-recognised state in South Caucasus. The war about this territory has taken place after the end of the Soviet Union. For more then 20 years exists a cease-fire, but no peace treatment.
On the eastern border of Nagorno-Karabach is a buffer zone by the Armenian and Karabachian army. Officially territory of Azerbaijan, it is a no man’s land. Here are the remnants of the city of Agdam, which has been razed.
One of the artists and I decided to visit this former city. The piece forgotten is based on recordings I did from the moment we got up that morning, our breakfast with our host, the travel to the capital, in order to get a visa to be allowed to go to an archaelogical excavation close to the border, on the travel there, the talk with people in a museum who organised us a taxi to bring us into this devastated place until we got into the taxi again to go back to our host.
We stayed for approximately four hours at this place where has been a city before. It has been abandoned, controlled by the army.
We split up to be alone with this extraordinary situation.
After a while a dog tried to chase me. A young man accoured and asked me to follow him. He led me to one of the five houses I saw which still have a roof. He with two other man used it as a stable for their flock of sheep. They offered me tea, gave a lamb on my lap and even if we couldn’t talk to each other as we didn’t share any language we sat together for one hour.
It was a striking moment, to find life in the middle of a totally devastated place.
Afterwards I walked the streets again, tried to document the silence, the absence of the former city life.
There are several information about the population figure of Agdam when it got destroyed. 50.000 is the number that circulates regulary. 50.000 people had to flee or died. Everyone who survived got traumatised.
The title of this piece is forgotten, because the conflict is forgotten, the people are forgotten. It is not a particular piece about the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is not a statement towards or against any party of conflict. Agdam is in this moment a synonym for all forgotten places of violent conflicts, of war situations, of destruction caused by humans.