The Photographic Odyssey of the Dildilian Family: From Anatolia to the West


Curated by

Armen Marsoobian, Ioannis Motsianos

Coproduction: Museum of Byzantine Culture, Anatolia College

Support: Honorary Consulate of Armenia in Thessaloniki, Armenian Community of Thessaloniki

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.






Armen Marsoobian

Armen T. Marsoobian is Professor of Philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University, and an affiliated faculty member of the Human Rights Institute of the University of Connecticut. He edits the journal Metaphilosophy. He was the Ordjanian Visiting Professor at Columbia University and lectured and published extensively on topics in genocide studies, human rights, American Philosophy, aesthetics, and moral philosophy. He has co-edited seven books, including Genocide’s Aftermath: Responsibility and Repair, Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Genocide and Memory, and The Blackwell Guide to American Philosophy. His award-winning authored book, Fragments of a Lost Homeland: Remembering Armenia, is based upon extensive research about his family, who were accomplished photographers in the Ottoman Empire. Exhibitions of their photography were mounted in Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Great Britain, and the United States. His companion exhibition volume, Reimagining a Lost Armenian Home: The Dildilian Photography Collection, was published in both English and Turkish.


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