Caught Between Two Worlds: A Family’s Historical Tale of Endurance

Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijani military forces, describing themselves as “eco-activists,” have impeded the flow of traffic from Armenia to the NKR. Because of this blockade, there is a shortage of food, medicine, fuel, and other necessary goods in the NKR. The 120,000 Armenians living there have resorted to strict rationing in order to preserve the basic supplies that remain.

Recently, two photographers documented the living conditions of this particular family, offering a glimpse into their day-to-day realities. From the setup to the production, the photographers presented a stark contrast between two contrasting worlds. While Lisa’s crew in Armenia had access to all the necessities, such as abundant light, desired food, and central heating, the situation in NKR was strikingly different: Nanor and her team lacked basic facilities like an internet connection, lights, stable electricity, and even the most fundamental supplies that we often take for granted.

One set of pictures portrays Nanor seated in front of barren supermarket shelves in the NKR, her red and white dress mirroring the stark red and white emptiness of the shelves behind her. Seated with minimal makeup, Nanor’s face reflects a deep sense of both anger and sadness—her arms draped over an empty shopping cart. Meanwhile, in Yerevan, Lisa stands in front of a fully stocked supermarket. Lisa’s black jacket juxtaposes those same red and white supermarket shelves, emphasizing the abundance of food. Lisa’s shopping cart is full. She has the goods that she needs. Her makeup is fully applied. But her expression is the same: she stares at the camera, indignant and bitter at the treatment her sister receives 320 km away.

In the next set of pictures, Lisa sits idly in front of a fully-stocked dinner table, her eyes either closed or glazed over with a deep sense of sorrow and disinterest. The table is set with delicacies, a veritable feast of meats, vegetables, and champagne, all arranged meticulously in a display of conspicuous excess. Yet despite the bountiful spread before her, Lisa cannot bring herself to eat or drink. Her thoughts are consumed by her sister, who sits alone staring at an empty dinner plate full of ration cards and no water.

The next image captures a powerful moment of defiance and determination as Nanor steps out onto the street in the NKR called “Ազատամարտիկներ,” or “freedom fighters.” Her attire, consisting of a white button-down shirt, beige jacket, black gloves, and black boots, evokes a balance between utility and style, hinting at a sense of preparedness for what lies ahead. The empty street in the background serves to emphasize Nanor’s solitary and resolute stance. Her expression is one of fierce determination, suggesting a deep desire to fight for her freedom, despite the obstacles and challenges she faces. Nanor’s step captures the spirit of resistance and hopes that characterizes the struggle for freedom and justice in blockaded NKR.

The photograph next to Nanor was taken at Goris, the closest checkpoint before entering the blockaded area. The girl walks under an open archway, freely moving from one side to the next—symbolizing her desire to move freely from Armenia into the NKR.

When the two sisters can reunite remains unclear. For now, however, they will continue to hold onto hope for justice, freedom, and the well-being of their family. Their story will remain a part of modern Armenian history.

The names of the main characters were altered per their request.

Art Direction by OOTTEE Studio / /Instagram:
Text by Nareg Balian / Instagram:@naregbalian1, Victoria Pisarenko / Instagram: @v.iczzz,

Photography by Davit Galstian / Instagram: @davgalstian, Ani Van / Instagram: @dinjkac
Retouching by Va Abajyan signed at The KAAS Agency / Instagram: @abajyans
Styling by Va Abajyan signed at The KAAS Agency / Instagram: @abajyans

The models are Nanor and Lisa (real names and Instagram handles cannot be revealed per the models’ request)

Brands used are: Sončess, Demiurge Land, Uniqlo x Marni, Zara, Ermanno Scervino, Jhangirian
Instagram name of each brand: @soncess__ @uniqloeurope @zara @ermannoscervino