The Photographic Odyssey of the Dildilian Family: From Anatolia to the West
11.10.2023 - 11.02.2024
Opening: Wednesday 11 October | 20:00
This exhibition captures the odyssey of an Armenian family, the Dildilians, many of whose members first worked as photographers in Ottoman Turkey. They lived, worked, and raised their families in the Anatolian cities of Sebastia (Sivas), Marsovan (Merzifon), Samsun and many communities across the breadth of Anatolia. This story begins in the 1870s, tracing the lives of the Dildilians through the last decades of the Ottoman Empire and beyond. For over thirty years, they served as official photographers for Anatolia College, an American missionary school serving the Armenians and Greeks of the region. The rupture created by the Armenian Genocide and the family’s eventual exile from their homeland play a central role in this story. Surviving Armenians and Greeks were forced into exile between 1922 and 1923. Members of the family rebuilt their lives in their adopted countries of Greece, France, and the United States, but they never forgot the life they left behind. They continued to tell their stories, sharing the images and dreams of their lost Armenian home.
The exhibition draws upon the Dildilian family archive, consisting of thousands of photographs, glass negatives, drawings, artwork, documents, letters, and family heirlooms. The exhibition texts are based upon written memoirs and oral interviews produced by multiple generations of the family. Moreover, an important part of the exhibition consists of photographs and documents from the collection of Anatolia College, mostly from the early years in Marsovan, Anatolia. The exhibition was curated by Armen T. Marsoobian, the grandson of Tsolag Dildilian, the founding photographer of the family business, in collaboration with Ioannis Motsianos, curator and Efthymia Papasotiriou, architect, Museum of Byzantine Culture. The exhibition is part of the programme of the Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale 2023 organised by MOMus.
On Wednesday 11 October, 2023, during the opening ceremony, there will be a music event by the Contradition Ensemble, under the direction of Kostikas Tsolakou.
Coproduction: MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Museum of Byzantine Culture, Anatolia College
Support: Honorary Consulate of Armenia in Thessaloniki, Armenian Community of Thessaloniki
For more information about the Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale 2023 please visit https://photobiennale-greece.gr/en/