archival inkjet print mounted on aluminium
150.0 x 190.0 (cm)
59.1 x 74.8 (inch)In 2010 Sarkissian spent two months in Istanbul documenting the history sections of various semi-private and public libraries and archives in the city, from the Archeological Museum and Topkapi Palace Libraries to the Atatürk Library at Taksim, the Ottoman Archives in the Government Office and Garanti Bank’s Ottoman Bank Archive.
Sarkissian’s own history is closely tied to these books and files, as his grandparents were forced to flee from Eastern Anatolia to Syria in 1915. The official historical narrative around this period in the Ottoman Empire, as presented since the collapse and transformation into the Republic of Turkey, is a subject of increasing debate within the Republic of Turkey.
While the specific content of the archives remain concealed, Sarkissian’s photographs of rows of shelving caught in time and racks of files that appear to rarely be opened, dark and oppressive spaces shot only with the light available, express the complexity of information that each archive contains, by either denying or confirming the artist’s inherited history, and his existence within the present.