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'Diana Markosian: Santa Barbara' now open at SFMOMA
Diana Markosian, A New Life, from Santa Barbara, 2019; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Diana Markosian.



SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Newly opened at SFMOMA is photographer Diana Markosian’s Santa Barbara, a project exploring the complicated nature of family and the American dream. Through a series of staged photographs and a narrative video, Markosian reconsiders her family history from her mother’s perspective, relating to her for the first time as a woman rather than a parent, and coming to terms with the profound sacrifices her mother made to become an American.

Markosian collaborated on this project with a scriptwriter from the 1980s American soap opera Santa Barbara (which her family had watched in Russia), a casting director and a group of actors. Weaving together imagery from the artist’s childhood homes in Moscow and Santa Barbara, the work reconstructs the Markosians’ final days in post-Soviet Russia and their arrival in the U.S. The result is a deeply personal reimagining of her past and a powerful examination of the interplay between the idealized vision of California life and the reality of the immigrant experience.

Picturing the hopes of Markosian’s mother to provide a different future for her children, the project emphasizes the hypercharged symbolism of the opportunities of America and the West, while serving as a personal reflection of the artist’s family history. Encapsulating different styles and storytelling techniques, Markosian proves to be at the forefront of a new generation of photographers pushing the boundaries of documentary.

Diana Markosian (born in Moscow, 1989) is a Russian-American photographer of Armenian descent. Her work explores memory and place through a layered, interdisciplinary process that uses photography and video. Her photographs have been published in National Geographic, the New Yorker, and the New York Times. Her awards include a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2019), World Press Photo Award (2019), Magnum Foundation Fund Grant (2019), Elliott Erwitt Foundation (2018), Chris Hondros Fund Award (2015), Firecracker Grant (2014), and Burn Magazine Emerging Photographer Fund (2013). She holds a Master of Science from Columbia University in New York. Her first monograph, Santa Barbara, was published by Aperture in 2020 and is accompanied by a show at SFMOMA (2021) and International Center of Photography, NYC (2021).










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