As a member of the Armenian minority in Turkey, the notions of displacement and invisibility become key elements in my work. In my thesis project “Void”, I am exploring my struggle with this issue by visualizing notions of the displacement, the loss of identity and the absence or disappearance of the culture through images that emphasize these notions through the evocation and depiction of studio space.
My main inspiration in this project is the archive of Maryam Sahinyan, an Armenian studio photographer, a woman who worked for almost 50 years (1937 – 1985) in the heart of Istanbul. I focus on her studio space and think of it as a recorder of personal memories, as well as of social and political events that led to corruption in the culture and threatened the existence of the minorities in Turkey.
In my work I select images from the archive and remove the figures in them. All that remains is the setting that the people were photographed in. Sahinyan’s studio, as a physical entity, functioning as an ambiguous area between public and private, becomes a hidden stage, where anyone might perform their identity for the camera.
While I remove Sahinyan’s subjects from the original photographs they are transported back and fragmented into my abstract reinterpretations of those studio settings. In these works the abstracted studio space becomes a dramatic vehicle for exploring presence through absence. In both parts of this project I aim to visualize the idea of loss and disruption, which defines the Armenian experience in Turkey.