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Azerbaijan: An artist's rendition of the feelings of families of the missing

The anecdotes of families of missing persons serve as inspiration for Azerbaijani artist Orkhan Garayev's work. Through it, he captures the feelings of those living with the uncertainty and ambiguity of the disappearance of a loved one - a moment in their lives whose presence lingers eternally.

Orkhan Garayev, born in 1991, is a young artist who graduated from the faculty of Experimental Arts of Azerbaijan State Academy of Arts in 2014. Orkhan's work includes pencil graphics, painting, sculpture and installations.  He is currently an independent artist who exhibits his works in local and international contemporary art exhibitions.

Following a request from the ICRC, Garayev illustrated the feelings of families of missing persons.

1.    The lighthouse: I see the light
"Over the past 23 years, a mother has become a real lighthouse for her missing son; an unmovable old lighthouse, which keeps shining its light for the ship whether it will arrive or not."

2.    The book: Starting a new page
"Each family suffering from the loss of a loved one puts itself behind barbed wires, staying in the past, not having faith in the future, not wanting to start from a new page."

3.    Doors: Death is not an end

"In almost every poem written in the memory of the missing loved ones, they mentioned a door. A door as a sign of hope. Hope that kept living in their hearts, that one day he will open the door and will come back to them. But the doors have turned into gravestones, a cemetery of doors."

4.    Stairs: Up to nowhere
"Four staircases, four families, four broken and lost steps, each of them could have taken them up in the path of their lives. Alas!!! The loss makes the climb harder and impossible."

5.    Chess piece: No more moves
"Life for these families becomes complicated, as if there is no place for movement. It resembles a game of chess; the game is over in checkmate situation. But you can start over."

6.     Sand glass:  Hard times
"The time is passing, but how, at what price? Instead of having time flying like sand, they carry the burden of a heavy, unmovable brick. It is as if the time is frozen. But they keep on waiting, as if he left only yesterday."

7.    Precipitous road: Broken fate
"Each family has its own fate; good or bad. But the fate will not be a whole, it will have gaps, creating a broken road, which is not normal."

8. Candle: Blind faith
"The candle, which will never burn out in the hearts of those who keep on waiting."

9. Tangled roads: Undo the knots
"Imagine the fate of those who have suffered a loss, there is so much in it, it is so complicated."

10. Puzzle: Puzzle of Fate
"We want the picture of our lives to be as beautiful and interesting as in the puzzles, which we collect with the hope to see the whole picture.  Their picture of life is lost, like a missing part of a puzzle. Without this part, no matter how beautiful the picture is, it will never be complete."

11. Felled trees: The innocent
"I remember being told that the families of missing persons asked the ICRC to help them to plant favorite trees of their missing sons in order to commemorate their memory. They were given a piece of land where they were able to plant these trees in the memory of their loved ones.  But what we see, their blossoming garden is a field of felled trees of their souls."

12. Labyrinth: Labyrinth of eternity
"How can you enter the labyrinth, if it does not exist? It is very easy, the labyrinth is not real, and it is in the chain of our lives. Sometimes it is infinite."

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