Ninety-six black and white photographs hang on the spotless walls of this Istanbul cultural centre, one for each year since the start of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman empire, on 24 April 1915.
The Burning Eyes exhibition is divided into five parts, corresponding to the five vilayets (provinces) formerly decreed as Armenian by the empire – Van, Erzurum, Bitlis, Diyarbakir and Harput – and are now part of eastern Turkey. These provinces bear the imprint of a crime that the photographer Antoine Agoudjian, the grandson of genocide survivors, has been investigated for the last 15 years.
A collection of Agoudjian’s photographs, originally published in France (Les Yeux Brûlants, Actes Sud, 2006), has also come out in a bilingual (Turkish and Armenian) version in Turkey, as part of a collection of history books launched by Köker. Exhibiting in Turkey is also the culmination of a personal quest for the photographer. “Many people think it’s daft, maybe even thoughtless, but I’m increasingly aware that this story is not just an Armenian concern. It is of interest to anyone who longs for truth,” he says.
—Guillaume Perrie, May 17 2011