Turkish Armenians Still an Ongoing Project
Some prejudices start from our childhood and imposed on us. It is one of them, to see some societies dangerous, to stay away from them. Armenian society is a good sample for the established bias in my country. And this subject is red line of the official government policy. But was everything really as described? It had to pass years to find out. In the 90s, my photography works focused more on cultural issues and human stories. One of these projects was the Grand Bazaar Masters, who continue their studies today with unwritten rules in Istanbul. These masters, many of whom were Armenians, began to tell their life stories during my photo project. All stories were beginning from Anatolia land and were full of sadness. Today, approximately 80,000 Armenians live in Istanbul. They were forced to leave the Anatolian lands at various times and come to Istanbul. A significant portion of those who stayed in Anatolia in 1915 had to accept Islam in order to survive. This meant survival for them. Despite this, some seemed to agree Islam religion and did not give up their identity, religion. Over the years, traveling priests have visited them in their villages to baptize their children and have survived to the present day. I visited the only Armenian village in Anatolia and photographed their lives and listened to their stories. Over time, I worked with people who learned their origins and returned to the Armenian identity years later and had to hide their identities. In 2011, I was invited to a mass baptism ceremony in Kinaliada, Prince Islands, Istanbul. There were 11 children in a wide age range waiting to be Christian. When I asked the reason for the collective baptism, they said that the children of families living in Anatolia but hiding their identity were picked and brought to Istanbul by the Patriarchate and were baptized collectively. Why are these people, who have been an important part of the Anatolian culture for thousands of years and who took part in important points in the Ottoman period, have now become minority status and are constantly excluded by the official ideology. Visual stories are one of the most effective methods of telling a subject. As a storyteller, My aim is trying to create empathy in the society and raise awareness by telling the stories of the Armenian society, which is excluded by the majority of the society and even viewed with the eyes of the enemy. My Turkish Armenian documentary photo project began in the year 2006 in Turkey, continued until today in different regions of Anatolia. My goal is to complete my project by visiting people who have to leave these lands, who live in Lebanon, France, and other countries, especially Armenia, and turn them into documentary work with their photos.