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Western Armenia: photography without retouch


A very interesting photo exhibition is opened in the National Museum-Institute of architecture called “Western Armenia from 1860 to 1914s”. The Charitable foundation “Shoushi”, whish gets assistance from the Ministry of Culture collected and represented the exhibits from various collections to the countrymen.
 Bakour Karapetyan, the director of the fund got round apparently all the basic establishments where the photo scripts, also books and illustrations imprinting Western Armenia are gathered. As a result, one can see more than 200 photographs in the exhibition, which were divided by the administrative principal. Actually one can see the whole Western Armenian life with all its expressions in this volume for the first time. The latest photos were taken  in the prewar and pre genocide year; e.g. 1914, that is, all that we had lost and all our goods that they robed and destroyed were recorded; e.g. the territory, cities, villages, churches and people. The Western Armenian life was not too joyful and light-hearted under the Ottoman Turkey prevision; however, it developed and even prospered here and there from time to time. And the best proof is these photographs without any varnishing and retouch. You always catch yourself in the thought; which of them was saved after a couple of years…
Kars: Europeanized people without any fezzes. The respectable Sogomonyans. Choir of male and female of Kara-Mourza in Kagzvan. The couple Tonoyan with beautiful and thin faces. And of course, the sights in Kars with a typical building, the church Arakelots, the fortress. Not far from it is Ani. The classical photographs by Aram Vruir: Marr among the romantic ruins of the legendary city, Marr in company of Toros Toramanyan and Arshak Fetvajyan. Van is represented especially abundant. Many photographs are shot by the famous Yermakov, who is a classic on the photo art, and we should be very grateful to, and by Panos Terlemezyan, who framed a great deal of expressive and quite professional shots; he is a gifted painter. For all that, we find many sights to the city and environs, and warriors people of Van in it; weavers, gardeners, bakers and even refugees (after the chase from 1894-1896) and many fantastic shots fixing various festivals. And of course the neighboring monasteries Narekavanq, Varagavanq, Lim hermitage, sacral relics: The Right Hand of Saint Sahak, the cross of Saint Nshan, where are they now? Wonderful portraits: Terlemezyan himself, Vrtanes Papazyan. A group of schoolchildren; there were some Armenian schools in Van. Bitlis, Kharbert, Killikia and Sebastia are represented as well. Here there is an immense photograph of 1912: a group of graduators of the Aramyan College in Sebastia. Such group photos were adored at that time. There was an underline above: '' To develop, to love, to illuminate'' –a manifest to the homeland and the nation. The graduators of the Swiss orphanage are near them. Erzroum in 1914: the streets of which sorrowfully remind you the ancient and already annihilated Erivan. The same houses, the same surface. The exhibition is no doubt very interesting, cognitive; it extends our knowledge over our own blessed and destroyed land. But what's then? What are we going to do? Again, speaking about the Western that is to say Turkish Armenia let's be obsessed with only the Genocide or... That is the whole point; ''Or''. The Western Armenia should become the inseparable and the important part of the Armenian exhibitions abroad. I doubt whether they know about it, even they know it, only as a territory in Turkey, where they shed Armenian blood. In brief, we should review our exhibition policy (let us suppose that the same exists) to make the Western Armenia a part of the pro Armenian propaganda, especially as all the sufficient means exist. Not to mention the albums, books, the rest polygraph productions which must be emitted by the government order, and the films, many CD and so forth. In that case the talks and thoughts over the theme concerning to the lost historical territories would be more convincing and persuasive. Not to mention the Museum of Armenian photographs, the contemporaneousness  of which is available to everybody, leaving out the Culture official men. They have their own concerns.      

    Karen Mikaelyan (newspaper “Novoye Vremya”)


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