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Bearing Witness to the Lost History of an Armenian Family Through the Lens of the Dildilian Brothers (1872-1923)

26/04/2013 @ 11:00 - 08/06/2013 @ 17:00

26 April – 8 June 2013

Panel: Friday 26 April, 18:30

“Reimagining a Lost Armenian Past: The Role of Memory in Public Discourse”

Speakers: Armen T. Marsoobian, Arsinée Khanjian, Ayşe Gül Altınay
Moderator: Salpi Ghazarian

The panel will be held in English.

The exhibition is realised in cooperation with Armen T. Marsoobian.

The exhibition texts are re-written by Anna Turay, and the design is done by Kirkor Sahakoğlu.

“Writing one’s memoirs is tantamount to wresting something from the clutch of death,” says one thinker…

The Dildilians did exactly that. While documenting a dark period of Anatolian history in the early 20th century with their cameras, they penned in elaborate detail everything they experienced – wresting it from the clutch of death.

This exhibition tells the story of the Dildilian family, whose members worked as photographers primarily in the cities of Sivas, Merzifon, and Samsun. The backdrop of the story, which starts in 1872 and ends in 1923, consists of a war that ravaged the world and a collapsing empire in death throes. At the center of the story is an agonized nation crushed and annihilated under this collapse.

The exhibition focuses on a painful process, which resulted in the violent eradication of Armenians from their 2,500-year old homeland. But more importantly it testifies to the educational, cultural and commercial achievements of Anatolian Armenians as well as to what has disappeared from Anatolia, and how.

The story of the Dildilians was pieced together from the memoirs of three family members: Tsolag (1872 Yozgat-1935 Athens), the founder of the photography business; Aram (1883 Sivas-1963 San Francisco), who later joined his older brother in the business; and Maritsa Médaksian (1901 Merzifon-1987 Épinay-sur-Seine), the niece of Tsolag and Aram, who recounted many of the stories told to her by her mother, Haïganouch Der Haroutiounian (1877 Sivas-1954 Épinay-sur-Seine), the sister of Tsolag and Aram.

The vast body of memoirs and correspondence handwritten by Dildilians in Armenian and English, and the voice recordings and countless photographs of the family members were brought together by Tsolag’s grandson Armen Tsolag Marsoobian to form a coherent whole. During this work, Marsoobian studied numerous historical resources as well as the memoirs of the faculty and missionaries of the Anatolia College to fill in the gaps. Immeasurable assistance was provided by Haïg Der Haroutiounian, the grandson of Haïganouch.

The large majority of the photographs gathered for the exhibition were chosen from among those taken by Tsolag and Aram Dildilian over the years, in Sivas, Merzifon, Samsun, Konya and Amasya. These photographs from the family collection number more than 600. The rich photo archive of the Anatolia College was another key resource for the project.

During the preparatory phase, a few additional photographs by the Dildilians found in private collections were included in the exhibition. The exhibition texts draw on the main text written by Marsoobian. Furthermore, various informative notes are provided to shed light on the period and guide the audience.


Reimagining a Lost Armenian Past: The Role of Memory in Public Discourse

Is there a role for private memoir and photographs in the public discourse about Turkey’s national narrative?

Can recovering a lost past play a positive role in repairing past wrongs or is it merely a form of nostalgia?

 icon-file-text Bearing Witness To The Lost History of an Armenian Family



Dildilian Ailes’inin ‘yitik’ geçmişi

Exhibition reflects dark period of Anatolian history
Hürriyet Daily News

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Politiken DK

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le petit journal

Aile objektifinden yitik geçmiş
Cumhuriyet – syf.15



26/04/2013 @ 11:00
08/06/2013 @ 17:00
Event Category:


Depo İstanbul
DEPO / Tütün Deposu Lüleci Hendek Caddesi No.12 Tophane
İstanbul, 34425 Turkey
+90 (212) 292 39 56 - 57