Exhibition reflects dark period of Anatolian history

Exhibition reflects dark period of Anatolian history

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Exhibition reflects dark period of Anatolian history

The Dildilian brothers made many contributions to various outstanding archives of the world. Their archive of 19th century Anatolia can be seen at Istanbul’s Tütün Deposu until June 8.

The photograph archive of the Dildilian brothers, who documented the social life of Anatolia during the 19th century with their cameras, was brought from the US to Turkey thanks to the efforts of their grandchildren Armen Tsolag Marsoobian and Tsolag Dildilian.

In their archive, the grandchildren have preserved over 800 pieces by the Dildilian brothers, who made many contributions to various outstanding archives of the world. Armen Marsoobian is planning to open a museum with the archive photos in the Black Sea province of Amasya’s Merzifon district. The exhibition, entitled “Bearing Witness to the Lost History of an Armenian Family: Through the Lens of the Dildilian Brothers,” will be displayed at the Tütün Deposu (Tobacco Depot) in Istanbul’s Tophane district until June 8.

Moving to Merzifon

The exhibition will also be presented in Merzifon. Armen Marsoobian, a professor of philosophy at Columbia University and Southern Connecticut State University, said the photos reflected Anatolian history, adding that their family came originally from the central Anatolian province of Sivas.
“Our great grandfather used to have a shoe factory in Sivas. Our uncles encouraged our grandfather when they discovered his ability in photography. The Dildilian brothers opened photo studios in Samsun, Konya, Merzifon and Adana along with Sivas. They photographed the social life of that period in addition to studio photography,” Marsoobian said.

Marsoobian said the life of his family in Anatolia was interrupted in 1922, adding that he first came to Turkey a few years ago and visited the home belonging to his family in Merzifon. “On my first visit, I felt rather uneasy. I also headed to Merzifon and visited a house where my family once lived. I stayed there for an hour,” he said.
Stating that he felt at home in Anatolia, Marsoobian said he was planning to open a museum in Merzifon with the photos in his archive. “There is a historic house [in Merzifon]. I want to restore it and want to bring the photos back to the county where they were originated. I actually wanted to do such a project in Sivas; but it seems not to be possible for now,” Marsoobian said.

Forgotten History of Anatolia

When asked the reason why they wanted to display their archives in Turkey, Marsoobian said, “A century ago, there was a rich cultural past in these territories. We wanted to shed light on the forgotten history of the 19th century with these photos. If we had not been forced to leave this territory, Anatolia would be much richer today,” Marsoobian said.

Marsoobian said various Armenian and Greek photographers of that period, such as the Dildilian brothers and Abdullah brothers, captured the 19th century Ottoman lifestyle with their cameras. Marsoobian said his archive in the US covers more than 800 photos shot in different Anatolian cities, adding that he spent a major part of his time on sorting out the pieces in the archive over the last five years.