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East and West

Visualising the Ottoman City

Aikaterini Gegisian Leslie Hakim-Dowek Paris Petridis


East and West

Visualising the Ottoman City

Aikaterini Gegisian Leslie Hakim-Dowek Paris Petridis


Published to accompany the exhibition East and West: Visualising the Ottoman City 6 – 30 June 2014 Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD This exhibition has been organised in conjunction with the international conference ‘Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories’ which has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as a Research Network scheme under the ‘Translating Cultures’ theme. Curated by Leslie Hakim-Dowek. Designed by Matt Emmins. Printed by Service Point Uk. There is an open-access online version of this exhibition catalogue published by issuu - www.issuu.com/vtoc With thanks to all the artists and contributors. Additional thanks to staff and students from Birkbeck College, University of Leeds and University of Portsmouth, the Peltz Gallery committee, the Arab Foundation for the Image, Kalliopi Minioudaki, Neery Melkonian, Sakis Serefas, Agra Publications, Denis Delaney from Service Point, Adrian Davidson from Possible Framing. www.ottomancosmopolitanism.wordpress.com/ All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without permission of the artists or authors. All images and texts are copyrighted by the artists or authors.

Visualing the Ottoman City


Foreword Leslie Hakim-Dowek Curator Organised as the main impact event of the ‘Ottoman Past, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories’ Conference, this exhibition aims to provide a platform for exchanges between scholars, artists, archivists and curators to question interpretations and representations of the ex-Ottoman city so as to challenge orientalist depictions of the Ottoman Empire. It was our intention that this photographic exhibition, open to the public, should also attract a diverse audience and ensure impact beyond the academic community. The exhibition brings together several lensbased practices, which focus on the legacies of and transitions from the Ottoman Empire and its multiple histories of diaspora and erasure through a range of approaches including documentary photography and archival-based practice. Other themes in the exhibition include the transformations and forgotten sites of Ottoman cities articulated through post and transcultural memories. One common departure point in all these series is the intersection of the individual and collective history across the generations and central to many of the 3

works are ideas of how history, personal memory and identity can be articulated through visual art forms to reclaim neglected representations and make visible hidden histories of displacement. Aleppo, Baghdad, Beirut, Istanbul and Salonica are names of ex-Ottoman cities that resonate around the world, often conjuring up a polarised view of either lands of antiquities or conflict-ridden territories beset by sectarian divides. The postcard images of these cities are surprisingly durable in projecting a romanticised view while, at the same time, their history of instability and conflicts is the only reality through which the international mass media perceives their social and cultural productions. In joining with the general consensus in the Middle East to counteract the latter, the artists in this exhibition choose to form their own ‘archives’ reclaiming visual spaces and by deviating from the dominant and monolithic narrative of the media, aim to highlight the multiplicity of narratives that made up these complex cities past and present.


Visualing the Ottoman City


East and West: Visualising the Ottoman City The Research Context of the Exhibition Jay Prosser

– Ottomanc osmopolitanism, Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories AHRC Research Network, www. ottomancosmopolitanism.wordpress.com/ (accessed 27 April 2014). Our Website holds podcasts of talks and publications which have sought to define and apply 1

to the Ottoman Empire some of the key theoretical terms and turns that appear in the following paragraph. – ‘Translating Cultures,’ Arts & Humanities Research Council, http:// www.ahrc.ac.uk/Funding-Opportunities/ Research-funding/Themes/TranslatingCultures/Pages/Translating-Cultures. aspx (accessed 1 May 2014). 2

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Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories This exhibition takes place as the culmination of a larger research project, Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories. Sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as a research network and led by a core team of academics and a visual artist located in the UK, the research has been conducted by an international body of scholars from different disciplines,

ex-Ottoman city as both an actual and imagined space. An arts and humanities perspective has supported our attention to how representation mediates the Ottoman world. We have been concerned with trying to understand what Ottoman pasts can teach us about the present, but we are also aware of how the past is mediated through – ‘translated by’ - the present. The network was awarded under the AHRC’s headline theme of ‘Translating Cultures,’

gastronomists and creative writers. Our project has included academic as well as popular events, which have resulted in a Web-based archive of podcasts and videos, as well as ongoing publications. 1

concerns such as ‘multiculturalism, multilingualism, tolerance, intolerance and identity’ and to attend to the ‘zones within, across and between which translation occurs, with particular reference to the role of translation in connecting the global, regional, national and local.’ 2

Our collaborative research has sought to expand and reinvigorate the study of the Ottoman Empire by harnessing and advancing new theories in transcultural and memory studies, and new methodologies in interdisciplinarity and comparative studies. We have taken a comparative approach to the Ottoman Empire, juxtaposing its geographies and its ethnic and cultural groups, in order to uncover the

Our research network has found that the cities of the Ottoman Empire were multiple, multicultural and are at once heavily memorialised and contemporarily relevant. Fostering international and interdisciplinary collaboration between members of the network and comparing a wide range of memories of and in Ottoman cities has allowed us to question popular and some scholarly assumptions about


the singular status of the Ottoman Empire (as Islamic; cosmopolitanism and transcultural exchange are entangled with both utopian ideals and traumatic histories, and we have critiqued revivals of Ottoman cosmopolitanism which reuse the past to political ends very different from our own. Finally, we are persuaded of the relevance of the Ottoman

The City and Cosmopolitanism Alongside those shown here – Salonica; Istanbul; Beirut -- this expansive empire covered a constellation of cities, including Baghdad, Alexandria, Nicosia, Belgrade, Jaffa/ Yafo, Aleppo, among others. We seek to put these cities and others into juxtaposition in order to show commonalities in Ottoman cities as well as to elucidate how their different

– Edhem Eldem, Daniel Goffman, and Bruce Masters, The Ottoman City between East and West: Aleppo, Izmir, and Istanbul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 14. 3

– Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). 4

collaborative and extensive Ottoman project important for breaking up the notion of an archetypal Ottoman city, Edhem Eldem, Daniel Goffman, and Bruce Masters have undertaken case studies of three Ottoman cities Aleppo, Izmir, and Istanbul – to reveal that, ‘from Buda to Basra,’ the empire’s cities were not exclusively Islamic or monolithically Ottoman. Instead, the authors advance a notion of the Ottoman city as a place of cultural encounter, a ‘point of contact’ between others. Ottoman cities were ‘transcultural, and as such serve as intense intersections between peoples: cultural fusion as much as anything else distinguished the sites.’ 3 If there was no such thing as a typical Ottoman city, what unites many Ottoman cities, implied in the visual representations forming part of this

exhibition, is the presence of variegated communities. This is to apply on the level of urban sociology and topography what Karen Barkey has done in macrostructural terms on empire. 4 Our exhibition covers three cities which exemplify our comparative, appositional approach. Istanbul, Salonica/ Thessaloniki, Beirut: three port cities facilitating trade so crucial for any empire, especially the Ottoman, extending, as it did, from the early modern period, through industrial capitalism. Trade provided stimulus and support for migrating populations, ranging from wealthy merchants to immigrants and rural migrants, with these cities and Jews from all over the Ottoman Empire and beyond, who played an important role in expanding the empire’s trade networks. But in turn - as with modern cities - cities of refuge could become sites of violence and persecution, with those displaced into further diaspora sometimes counting themselves as the more fortunate. And what is a city without its inhabitants, or having lost its cosmopolitan ideals of coexistence? Cosmopolitanism is a structuring term for our research and as a theoretical concept intersects with transculturalism. Associated with the city in its connotation of urbanity and sophistication, cosmopolitanism has an older traceable history than does the term transculturalism, however, and originates with the pre-Ottoman Cynics of ancient Greece. With its etymology meaning ‘citizen of the world,’ the cosmopolitan subject, according to founding Visualing the Ottoman City


Cynic, Diogenes, rejected belonging to the Greek citystate, that is, being a part of any community or natio. anticonventionalism and vagrancy, since taken up by in other states of cosmopolitan nonbelonging, such as that of Baudelaire’s . 5 With a genealogy running from Diogenes through Kant, Levinas, and Derrida, cosmopolitan ideals have been used variously in ethics: to support a universal constitution; to practise regard for the other; to prize hospitality; but, as in Virginia Woolf’s feminist polemic against patriotism, cosmopolitanism almost invariably entails critique of nationalism. 6 Photography and Postmemory Alongside transculturalism, our collation of disparate cities and our evaluation of cosmopolitanism, the remaining key axis for our research framework for rethinking the

– Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism, trans. Harry Zohn, (London, 1983), 54. 5

memory studies. Not being empiricist historians, we do not believe an authentic, knowable past can be accessed apart from through the present. Instead, foregrounding memory allows us to understand how present perspectives construct and mediate the past through representation.

– Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas (London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1966). 6

– Jay Prosser, Light in the Dark Ro om: Photography and Loss (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2005), 1. 7

– Marianne Hirsch, Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 22. 8

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While our research examines memorialising forms widely - including life-writing and memoir, microhistory (history pictorial art - the photograph’s link to memory seems self-evident: a frozen moment of time past. Yet we do not assume that photographs fully recover memory in

‘photographic reproduction.’ As I have argued elsewhere, ‘it is a myth that photographs bring back memories. Photographs show not the presence of the past but the pastness of the present. They show the irreversible passing of time.’ 7 Hence photography’s melancholia, the lacunae in memory, as well as its nostalgia, the rose-coloured lens. Photographs can perform an ablation of memory. The technology has worked to document presence in history; but what photographs leave out - in some the images here for example, human presences; marked graves; memorials – can also be made part of our viewing of the image. To quote one of our artists, Paris Petridis, photographs can also ‘document ongoing neglect’ of histories that have not been acknowledged following the demise of the Ottoman Empire. As with our research generally, the images are informed by postmemory, a term further displacing facticity from memory while retaining a strong emotional and biographical connection to the event. Marianne Hirsch, describes how ‘postmemory is distinguished from memory by generational distance and from history by deep personal connection. Postmemory is a powerful and very particular form of memory precisely because its connection to its object or source is mediated not through recollection but through an imaginative investment and creation.’ 8 All three connections to Ottoman locations and their transcultural communities. Yet their work also partakes of the new directions in which Hirsch has invited this ‘generation


‘connective’ modes across cultural difference. 9 Intersecting with Michael Rothberg’s concept of ‘multidirectional memories,’ these are not simply self-referential works. 10 Photographs belong to very different discourses: apparently indexical of history, when used as metonyms of news; but also in the pictorial tradition belonging to creative arts. The works here draw together these two traditions, telling histories but also containing that imaginative and creative investment in memory, which kind of countermemory, that is memory that challenges the historical record or national archive. – Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 22-23. 9

– Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memories: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Dec olonization (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009). 10

– Patrizia Di Bello and Shamoon Zamir, ‘Introduction,’ in Patrizia Di Bello, Colette Wilson, Shamoon Zamir, eds, The Photobook: From Talbot to Ruscha and Beyond, ed. Patrizia Di Bello, Colette Wilson, Shamoon Zamir (London: IB Tauris, 2012), 1. 11

– Geoffrey Batchen, Mick Gidley, Nancy K. Miller, Jay Prosser, eds, Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (London: Reaktion, 2012). 12

-Jacques Rancière, The Future of the Image (London: Verso, 2007), 25. 13

The relation between the caption and the image is always important, but with more complex postmemorial notions of photography we see the manifestly creative and imaginative use of text in relation to image. As noted in a collection on the book-length photo-text produced as a result of a previous collaboration involving members from this network, ‘understanding how meanings are shaped by the image’s interactions with another, or its place in a group or sequence, or through its dialectical coexistence with text is the foundation upon which histories as well as aesthetical and cultural conceptualizations of genre must be built up.’ 11 Text can underline photography’s oversights as a constituent of its optics. Thus, in the relationship between caption and image, some of the photographs upturn the tradition of ‘aftermath’ photography, a predominant genre of the news photograph in which the camera steps in to record sites after crisis. 12 Here the atrocity is not be seen in the image,

unmemorialised except in the captions, the words. The absence of the history that can be evidenced is itself an index of the treatment of that history in the postOttoman present. Text can also perform a lyrical reading of image, embedding the visual instant in an autobiographical narrative that builds into a postmemorial transition between private familial lives and public history. Such a contextualisation challenges the separation between end-stopped event and the continuous bios of psychic life. In postmemory, trauma is ongoing; a photo-text can capture a city exploding, slowly. Sharing this interest with the photo-text in the photograph as an object to be recirculated in other texts, a third treatment of the photograph in the exhibition is as installation art. Jacques Rancière in writes that ‘the device of the installation can [. . .] be transformed into a theatre of memory and make the artist a collector, archivist or window dresser, placing before the visitors’ eyes [. . .] a set of testimonies about a shared history and world.’ 13 We would like to think our research, as much as the works in this exhibition, has the same effect – setting before the viewer a set of testimonies about a shared history and world, which themselves invite a future.

Visualing the Ottoman City


Ottoman Assemblages Gabriel Koureas

– Hanley Will, ‘Grieving Cosmopolitanism in Middle East Studies’, History Compass, 6/5, (2008), 1347-67 1

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In recent years the idea of cosmopolitanism has undergone a revival in relation to globalisation and the Ottoman Empire is often called upon as an example of cosmopolitanism where different ethnic and religious communities co-existed. However, recent scholarship has questioned what they see as a ‘nostalgic’ and ‘grieving’ revisiting of the Ottoman Empire. 1 This exhibition can be accused of nostalgia as all three artists engage in different ways through the medium of photography with the Ottoman past: Aikaterini Gegisian’s orientalist postcards of women from countries that formed the Ottoman Empire are presented as photographic contact sheets but strategically placed gaps warn us of certain absences; Paris Petridis’s photographs transport us to two ex-Ottoman cities, Salonica and Istanbul. Through historic landmarks of Salonica and Greek schools of Istanbul the artist produces sites of memory that are devoid of human life in the present and which are eerily inhabited by ghosts of bygone times. These sites of memory ask us to participate in an embodied remembering of the past of these two cities; Leslie Hakim-Dowek’s photographs of Beirut provide an autobiographical experience of the destruction of the city following the long civil war in Lebanon questioning the erasure of the multilayered history of the country. Finally,

the selection of photographs from the archives of the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut provide the link between past and present. This essay engages with the conversations taking place in the gallery space between then and now, memory and photography, and with the symbiosis between different ethnic communities in the ex-Ottoman Empire in order to question the role of photography in creating possibilities for co-existence within the mosaic formed by the various groups that made up the Ottoman Empire. My aim here is to create parallelotopias, spaces in the present that work in parallel with the past and which enable the dynamic exchange of cultural memories, as opposed to utopian cosmopolitanisms in order to discuss the transformative politics of Ottoman cultural memories by separating, juxtaposing and recombining the dimensions of the Ottoman city. Photography arrived in Istanbul in 1839, almost simultaneously with its introduction in Europe. In the years that followed, commercial photography studios in the city . Most importantly, although there were few


Muslim photographers during this period, the Ottoman Sultans espoused the arrival of photography with great zeal.

Every picture is an idea. A picture can inspire political and emotional meanings which cannot be conveyed by an photographs rather than written records. 2 He also stressed the importance of photography for the Ottoman Empire in relation to its representation through the European lens stating:

– Quoted in Engin Çizgen, Photography in the Ottoman Empire, 1839-1919, (Istanbul: Ha ş et Kitabevi, 1987), 22 2

Most of the photographs taken for sale in Europe vilify and mock our well-protected domains. It is imperative that the photographs to be taken in this instance do not insult Islamic people by showing them in a vulgar and demeaning light. 3

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The importance of photography for the Ottoman rulers

– For a discussion of the Abdulhamid Albums see: William Allen, ‘The Abdul Hamid II Collection’, History of Photography, 8 (1984), 119-45; Michelle L Woodward, ‘Between Orientalist Clichés and Images of Modernization: Photographic Practice in the Late Ottoman Era’, History of Photography, 27 (2003), 363-74; Wendy Shaw, ‘Ottoman Photography of the Late Nineteenth Century: An ‘innocent’ modernism?’, History of Photography, 33 (2009), 80-93

an Empire that was increasingly showing signs of unrest and revolt and, secondly, it provided an opportunity for dialogue with the West in demonstrating the modernity of the Empire, its progressiveness and the co-existence within its borders of the various ethnic groups of the Empire. Sultan Abdulhamid II’s albums provide an example of this. These albums, 51 in all, containing 1,819 photographs, were given in 1894 as a gift from Sultan Abdulhamid II to the British and USA Governments. More than half of the photographs came from the Armenian studio of the Abdullah Brothers. The albums can be divided roughly

– Quoted in Selim Deringil, The WellProtected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire, 1876-1909, (London: I.B. Tauris, 1998), 156 4

into four categories: landscapes, historic monuments, scenes that depict educational, industrial and military developments, and ethnographic records of the inhabitants of the Empire in ethnic costumes. The albums attempt to reverse the Western Orientalism of romanticised landscapes inhabited by harem girls and inactive, sleepy men endlessly resting and smoking the nargile. However, there are several problems arising out of such a reading of the albums which I would like to address. 4 The agency of the photographers in question seems to be problematic. Although seventy percent of the photographs are from the Armenian photographic studio of the Abdullah Brothers there is not a single photograph of Armenian subjects, landscapes or monuments, despite the fact that every other ethnicity in the Empire is represented in the albums. The absence of the Armenian community becomes conspicuous in its absence and especially if it is contextualised within the historical events that were taking place at the time, culminating in the Hamidian massacres of Armenians in 1895. Do the Armenian photographers by assembling these photographs for the Sultan deny a voice not only to their Armenian compatriots but to themselves as well? It is at this point that I would like to address the Deleuzian idea of the ‘assemblage’, and to make the connection between past and present. Deleuze sees assemblage in terms of processes of territorialisation and de-territorialisation. up of heterogeneous terms’ and which ‘establishes liaisons and relations between them’. This means the assemblage’s Visualing the Ottoman City


‘only unity is that of co-functioning: it is a symbiosis, a with alliances, which Deleuze calls ‘alloys’. Assemblage ‘has both territorial sides, or re-territorialised sides, which stabilise it, and cutting edges of de-territorialisation, which carry it away’. 5 Within the above historical and theoretical framework, the photos of military schools, assemblies and drills in Sultan Abdulhamid II’s albums are a demonstration of the military strength of the Empire dealing not only with external enemies, the Russians in this instance, but also in coping with the increasing unrest within the Empire The albums become an exercise in re-territorialisation in order to stabilise an increasingly destabilised Empire. The album bindings and the elaborate framing of the individual photographs provide the visible territorial sides for the Abdulhamid II regime. Most importantly, seen within this context, the actions of the Armenian photographers do not

looking at the way in which these photographs were received in Europe - a number of them was exhibited at Universal Exhibitions in Paris, Vienna and Chicago - and taking into consideration that the majority of Ottoman photographers trained under European photographers, this does not seem to be the case. In a revealing exchange between the studio of Pascal Sébah and the editor of , the photographer Pascal Sébah Istanbul with printing techniques which lagged behind Parisian ones. In response, the editor of the journal wrote in his editorial page: We know that for a long time there have been very good photographers in Constantinople. We are sure of this because of the beautiful examples which have been sent to various exhibitions by M. Sébah and M. Abdullah, including the latest methods being experimented with in France. We had not realised that the art of photography was so advanced in areas so far away from Paris. (Editorial,

a form of symbiotic co-existence that allows them to framing of the photographs by providing the alloys, the raw material from which a form of co-existence can become visible through the medium of the photograph.

– Quoted in M. Delanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity, (London: Continuum Books, 2006), 121 5

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– Wendy Shaw, ‘Ottoman Photography’ 11

My other point of consideration that provides a parallelotopia, is the aesthetic language that these images adopt. It has been argued that these photographs adopt a purely indexical approach without the pictorial language that characterised their Europeans counterparts. 6 However,

The editorial works in various ways by both endorsing the techniques and composition of the photographers, but also creating a certain distance between them. In addition, it is important to note that the Ottoman photographers catered for two markets: the tourist market of visitors to Istanbul and their demand for photographs as souvenirs to take back home with them as evidence of their travels, such as images of cityscapes or the peculiarities of exotic workers; and the local market, that was mostly interested in family portraits. Sometimes the two coincided and the boundaries


between the two genres collapsed. In doing so, and this is the point I want to stress, photographic aesthetics reveal a different set of alliances, which are distinct from the narrative that the albums are trying to impose. It is exactly this photographic aesthetic that becomes the cutting edge of de-terriorialisation, which carries it forward to the contemporary and to the space of this exhibition. The exhibition uses contemporary artistic production as a politics that operates at the interface of memory and imagination, the individual and the social, the local and the global, through dialogue rather than monologue. Artistic production using the archive juxtaposes the indexical trace of the historical past with the aesthetic agency of the present, reminding us that the archive can never be the

– Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 462-3 7

or trace that is the hallmark of the archive’s fragmentary nature. Such intervention is also capable of surpassing the event that the archive in part recalls. Gegisian’s archival photographs of Ottoman women negotiate Ottoman female histories that have been obscured in academic literature, as the Ottoman woman is no longer seen as a monolithic category but made of diverse ethnic and racial groups. The work addresses this by bringing together a diversity of national and subjective positions. ‘Self-Portrait as an Ottoman Woman’ produces an inappropriate space, a deterritorialisation with the potential to disrupt the function of both Orientalist fantasy and nationalist symbolism.

The space and place of the city is the main pre-occupation for Petridis and Hakim-Dowek thus grounding transcultural ideas within particular spaces and places in order to produce a located and embodied parallelotopia that acknowledges the actual historical and geographical contexts from which it emerges. The two works connect the past with the present and project it into the future. It is exactly the same temporality that characterises the relationship between photography, history and memory. For Walter Benjamin, history is not a timeline but a porous surface whose holes provide windows into discarded memories. Memories live not in a historically rigid sequence but simultaneously enabling us to choose from many possibilities how to create the present. Historical truth is like an image, a photograph in which the Then and the Now come together into a constellation. The relationship of the present to the past is temporal, whereas the relationship between then and now is dialectical and imagistic. The image belongs radically to the present because it is only in the present that it can be understood. But the image is also radically historical. 7 The artists exhibited here do not just look back nostalgically to certain iconic spaces in the city, but re-negotiate these spaces in order to create parallelotopias that although they may appear nostalgic, in fact have the capacity to question and problematise our understanding of them in order to create a dynamic space of memory exchanges.

Visualing the Ottoman City


Aikaterini Gegisian

From Self-Portrait as an Ottoman Woman, 2012 - 2014 Work-in-progress 93 archival postcards in 3 panels unframed: 123.5 x 43.6 cm each Courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens - Thessaloniki


Visualing the Ottoman City


Self-Portrait as an Ottoman Woman consists of a collection of popular postcards of women in traditional costumes and national dresses that geographically represents the whole of the post-Ottoman landscape but chronologically references various historical moments and ideological contexts. Rejecting archival chronological taxonomies, the project is rather organised according to the position of the women in front of the static camera: the direction of their gaze, the types of shots and the particularities of posture and hand movements.

Details from Self-Portrait as an Ottoman Woman, 93 archival postcards in 3 panels. pg 14 - 18

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In the work, the idea of the ‘Ottoman woman’ is constructed by the ‘inappropriate’ grouping of heterogeneous material that draw from Ottoman, Orientalist and nationalist perspectives and which reference diverse ethnic and social positions. In this inappropriate grouping the women become part of a new spatial framework organised into strips of movement that echo Muybridge’s early photographic studies of motion. Although mimicking the grid-like symmetry and sequencing of the motion study, the strips are punctuated by gaps that highlight their own incompleteness and are arranged into panels were

overall movement is created not by homogeneous frames but through diverse women representing different visual environments. Unlike the gendered determined function of Muybridge’s work and the ideological role of the postcards, these retrospective motion strips challenge the types of mobility available to women and disrupt the function of both orientalist phantasy and nationalist symbolisation. With the creation of movement as its central organisational principle, the work formally plays with archival and photographic systems as it claims to produce a self-portrait. Combining representational strategies and addressing a collective body and action, the work complicates the indexical power of the photographic image and the category of the Ottoman woman as a turning photographic images of popular culture into new potentialities of movement, the project also destabilises technologies of movement. Making the case for an Ottoman woman that reclaims visual space, the work from the position practices from their own western histories.


Visualing the Ottoman City


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Visualing the Ottoman City


Leslie Hakim-Dowek

From The City that Exploded Slowly, 2009 Wall-Compositions 1,2,4,6 (from a series of 6) Inkjet Photographs printed on archival paper and text 61.5 x 44 cm and 31.5 x 43 cm plus text 31.5 x 43 cm


The City That Exploded Slowly, Wall Composition 1 pg 22 - 23

The City That Exploded Slowly, Wall Composition 2 pg 24 - 26 The City That Exploded Slowly, Wall Composition 4 pg 26 - 27

– The Lebanese civil war lasted fifteen years from 1975 until 1990. 1

– Prosser, Jay. Light in the Dark Ro om: Photography and Loss. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2005. 2

The City That Exploded Slowly, Wall Composition 6 pg 28 - 29 Visualing the Ottoman City


The City That Exploded Slowly War and wilderness are often there in my work and sometimes converge more closely, as in the photo-text series , because stories of warfare and of our abuse of the environment stem both from man’s struggle to control, tame and own the wilderness. Most often relating to The Lebanon, my place of birth, are the leitmotivs of identity, memory and place. It is against a background of vast erasure that I started this autobiographical body of work including this series when I experienced the devastation of the centre of Beirut at the end of the civil war 1 on a scale rarely encountered. This prompted an impetus to reclaim and relocate memories within a site that seemed to be endlessly entangled in a double helix of deletion and oblivion and at its core, was the notion that, for my mother were deeply bound to this part of Beirut and its that there is always a city that lives on in each of us, I set to map out a trail of memories that was entrenched with the many transformations of Beirut from a war-torn site to a homogenised city centre complete with colonial pastiche and global brands. 21

The powerful symbols of a historic urban centre and A process of re-visiting and re-translation by way of memory aided in coming to terms with the sense of loss and unreplaceability of place. What remained resonant to me was the sense of rupture caused by the civil war, which never abated and with that, the persistence to sustain post-memories from a diasporic viewpoint. As in the words of Jay Prosser, photography in autobiography functions as a memento mori that makes real a loss and by capturing a reality that we would otherwise not see or choose not to see, helps one to apprehend it 2. In the series, the city is in turn depicted as psychic constructions of urban imaginaries of the old centre and as a material city riddled with gaps and blackouts. In each wall-composition are juxtaposed my own parable with snapshots of my mother, captured by street-photographers in the 1950’s, and my photographic chronicle of Martyr’s Square, (colour non-descript place. The colour photographs show only traces of war while the text enumerates more

the violence however the interrelationship of both media is mutually dependent and collaborative. to provide an anchoring through the body and an indication of previous generations of my family that had their own individual mapping of the city and imprint of their memories on its identity. An interesting dislocation is created as the world she was contemplating then was so vastly different damaged city depicted in the colour photographs. In a Benjaminian sense, these photographs acted as a mechanism of arrest and contemplation and as a result, could offer a postulation of what could have been and other projected possibilities. Another recurring motif of the series is the Martyrs’ statue, which was one of the iconic symbols of Beirut, situated in the main public square but now has been demoted in the refashioning of Beirut as a pristine urban showpiece. Ironically, it marks the end of the Ottoman Empire and what was to become a fragmented history of instability, sectarian


Visualing the Ottoman City


When I was 5, my mother took me to a large department store, called Byblos, on Martyr’s Square. She bought my first schoolbag there. I remember it well and I see myself holding it: its rubbery texture, rounded corners and black and white colours, all still tangible in my mind. People in Beirut often wondered why this store never did well despite its incessant publicity. After the war and extensive excavations, it was discovered that the store’s foundations had encroached on the very first walls of Beirut, Birut or Birayat as it was then called in 15 BC. Some people thought that was probably the reason it was jinxed.

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Visualing the Ottoman City


Martyr’s Square stands at the heart of Beirut and was the threshold of many discoveries. I was taken there on many occasions, dragged by the hand by my mother or Marie. I always wanted to linger more and felt frustrated not being able to take in all that was banal and exquisite on display: wide-eyed dolls, bird-whistles, sewing-kits, flower garlands and plastic snakes all made in Taiwan. I would often fix intensely and then shut my eyes so the image would float inside my lids for a few seconds. It was there, in my early teens, that I first tasted freedom. I have a vision of myself, often replayed, from a side-angle, wandering there with the whole square opening out: the deep shadows of the awnings, shop-keepers standing in doorways, a myriad of signs, cars gleaming under the harsh light of day. The square was a mass of friction and noise. I often walked, endlessly, making my way through the crowd trying to elude the gaze of others. I recall the distinct feeling of being elated. This is where, slowly feeling and knowing, that my timidity started receding.

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Visualing the Ottoman City


The war started there, at the very heart of the city. There were no distant frontiers or vast battlefields on plains where battles unfolded. It was among the carts, chairs, chandeliers and ladders that it all began to dissolve. Death arrived among all that noise, and the first mutation of Beirut was by fire. The rockets and bullets fell endlessly, swallowing all the minutes and sounds, reversing the imagery of the city centre into an abyss. The flashes of the Stalin’s Organs replaced the glowing nodes of cars and buses. The cracked asphalt gave way to the wilderness that lay below. Only rabid dogs and rats roamed in this depopulated silence.

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Visualing the Ottoman City


The civil war lasted 15 years and ended with an uncertain peace. Some gave way to their desires to erase the city and the city that sparkled at night with thousands of lights was engulfed in a dark void. Each city carries an equation to transform itself: some will go through many strata of crippling history, some become missing cities while others rise vertically to become voracious forests of steel and glass. With peace, the city centre has known another mutation: all signs of war have been removed to make way for a homogeneous ordered space. The crowds are regulated by barriers and soldiers and there are no street-sellers. Past strata of earlier civilisations are laid bare by the side of elegant restaurants. The layers of the city have been torn away, exposing nodes of history and memory that lay shattered under for hundreds of years revealing a pattern of calamities and invasions. Now, in the same space and time, you can observe a Roman patrician’s house, a minister’s tomb, the Ottoman Clocktower, the wares of Dunkin Donuts and Timberland. One of the last remaining buildings on Martyr’s Square, the Opera Cinema, is now a Virgin’s Megastore. What remains of the late Ottoman souks is a pattern recreated in the concrete slab of the car park.

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Visualing the Ottoman City


Paris Petridis

From The Rum-Orthodox Schools of Istanbul, 2006-7 Inkjet Photographs printed on archival paper 75 x 60 cm From Souvenir de Salonique, 2012 Inkjet Photographs printed on archival paper and text 62 x 50 cm and text: 30 x 50 cm


The Rum-Orthodox Schools of Istanbul

Great Hall, Great Scho ol of the Nation

Storero om, Great Scho ol of the Nation pg 34 Archive, Zographeion Lycee pg 35 Gymnasium, Zappeion Lycce pg 36 Visualing the Ottoman City


in July 2006, words failed me. Built in the last quarter Orthodox diaspora, with moving dignity they defend the community’s bourgeois cosmopolitanism against the starkness of reality. Over the year that followed, I would return again and again each time in a maelstrom of ambivalence: the alienation of the empty spaces and the largesse of their architecture, the atmosphere of stateliness and the absence that does not detract from it, the objects’ perishability and their persistent claims to utility value, decimated numbers and continuity in the education conveyed, a sense of loss and the reassuring certainty that home is where meaning has not leaked away. Documents of national history or data from the era of the real, lost homelands or cosmopolitanism missed: in every case, this mute record is an audible echo of memory, a glimpse of the lines on our palms.

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Visualing the Ottoman City


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Visualing the Ottoman City


Souvenir de Salonique

“But isn’t every spot in our cities the scene of a crime?”, wonders Walter Benjamin in a Little History of Photography twin sister: crime. Thessalonhiki is a rare example in History as it embodies a continuity of civil life for more than two millenniums. Souvenir de Salonique is a sequence of photographs that are based on research into violent acts performed in public during the long history of the city. In themselves, the photographs document ongoing neglect in an unhistorical progress report. These are landscapes of the city of Salonica and its fringes, landscapes of the sort that never warrant a second glance. There are no phantasmagorias, no neighbourhoods either; only signs of distorted development and uneven progress that are symptomatic of all east Mediterranean cities. Next to the texts, the photographs act as counterpoints. If the texts recall memory and rupture, the photographs support forgetting and normalcy. Condemned to operate in the present —and thus unable to depict the past reality—, photography can only represent the real of its absence. The very absence of the human presence in the series is a visual irreparable loss.

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Egnatia 87, the church of Agios Athanasios

Visualing the Ottoman City


HERE, the Turks held over 100 women, children and old people prisoner who starved to death in May 1821. May 1821. The Chalkidiki uprising has just been put down, and Thessaloniki witnesses a wave of brutal deaths: hangings, beheadings, impalings. The Turks lock over 100 women, children and old people inside the church of Agios Athanasios on Egnatia Street. The days go by and the prisoners start dying of hunger, one by one, until no one is left alive. Not so the rats, however, who gorge themselves on the corpses. When the authorities finally unchain the doors, the stench of death is such that the people of the vicinity have to quit their homes for days.

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Old Thessaloniki seafront, at the bottom of Eleftheria Square

Visualing the Ottoman City


HERE, the Turks erected gallows and unjustly hanged seven Romanies from Dendropotamos on 16 May, 1876. The gypsies had been sentenced to death by a kangaroo court for the lynching of the French and German consuls by a Turkish mob. The execution took place in the presence of landing parties from the British, French, German, Russian and Greek ships at anchor in the port. The ground here was sandy at the time.

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15, Frangon Street

Visualing the Ottoman City


HERE, a branch of the Ottoman Bank was blown up by Bulgarian anarchists on 29 March, 1903. The Ottoman Bank was blown up during three days of terrorist attacks (28-30 March, 1903) carried out by the ‘Boat-men’, a group of twelve Bulgarian anarchists, on targets representing European interests in the city. Their aim was to draw Europe’s attention to their struggle to liberate Macedonia from the Turks and to demonstrate Bulgaria’s influence in the region. Today, the building, which retains the original frontage of the bombed-out bank, now houses the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki. The two statues of female figures in the forecourt represent Economy and Trust, and are the oldest modern al fresco statues in Thessaloniki. They were moved to their present location from the nearby summer residence (in Redziki) of the merchant and estate owner Jake Abbot, the original owner of the building. The statues lost their fingers to the blast during the terrorist attack.

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Sea wall, port of Thessaloniki

Visualing the Ottoman City


HERE, the Turkish battleship, the Fethi Bulent, lies three fathoms under water. The warship sank after it was torpedoed by the Greek torpedo boat T-11 on 18 October 1912. Thirteen Ottoman sailors and the ship’s imam lost their lives in the attack. The iron-clad still lies where it sank, under three fathoms of water, beside the sea wall three hundred meters out to sea. It rests on its port side with its prow pointing towards the White Tower. Some of its moveable parts were salvaged in 1999, along with the remains of the Turkish crew.

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Aikaterini Gegisian www.gegisian.com

and works in London. In 2014 she completed a PhD currently Visiting Scholar-Artist at the University of solo and group shows and Biennials of contemporary art in Greece and abroad. Awards and grants: Arts & Humanities Research Council, UK; Arts Council England; Visiting Arts, UK; Picture This, UK; Thessaloniki Center of Contemporary Art. Lectures: 7th International Contemporary Art Symposium of Vladikafkaz; University of Oxford; University of Brighton; University College Chester; Armenian Open University; Aristotle University, Greece; Mahatma Ghandi Institute, Mauritius, among others. Works in collections: National Center of Contemporary

private collections in Greece and abroad. The multifaceted work of Gegisian negotiates the plasticity of the moving image, sound, photography and text, focusing on the relationship between space, memory and narrative. She is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens-Thessaloniki.

Leslie Hakim-Dowek www.lesliehakimdowek.net

Dr Gabriel Koureas Birkbeck, University of London

Leslie Hakim-Dowek is a visual artist of Lebanese origin based in London. She is a senior lecturer in photography at the University of Portsmouth and the visual advisor/curator for the ‘Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories AHRC Research’ project.

Dr Gabriel Koureas is lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Visual Culture at the department of History of Art, Birkbeck, University of London. His research concentrates on the memory and

She has recently undertaken a portrait commission for the Photographers Gallery and Gulbenkian Foundation for the 2012 Olympic games title ‘The World in London’. She has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad including several group exhibitions including: ‘iCrossing’ part of the Brighton Fringe curated by Max Houghton and Yasmina Reggad, ‘The Dead’ curated by Val Williams and Greg Hobson, Mois de La Photo in Montreal and National Media Museum in Bradford; ‘Domestic Stories’, touring exhibition by the Impressions Gallery. Solo shows include ‘New Photographic Series’ at SPACE, Portsmouth; Manchester City Art Gallery. Her work is included in many private and public international collections.

centuries. He recently completed an AHRC networking grant on the gendered representation of the terrorist which resulted in a co-edited Terrorist Transgressions: Gendered Representations publications include works on the commemoration of the First World War, art and the senses and the visual culture of colonial wars of independence. He was born and brought up in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus and he is currently completing a monograph on the colonial and postcolonial visual culture of the island.

Visualing the Ottoman City


Paris Petridis www.parispetridis.com

Dr Jay Prosser University of Leeds

Paris Petridis is an artist living in Salonica, Greece. He is a lecturer at the Applied Arts Studies College and has exhibited widely including the Greek State Museum of Contemporary Art, Mois de la Photo in Paris, Istanbul Modern and Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow. He is author of numerous books including Notes at the Edge of the Road, The Rum-Orthodox Schools of Istanbul and Here: Sites of Violence in Thessaloniki. His work is included in many private and public international collections.

Dr Jay Prosser is Reader in Humanities at the University of Leeds and PI of AHRC Research Network ‘Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories.’ His previous major collaborative research project, supported by the British Academy and on photography and atrocity, resulted in Picturing

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a book produced for Amnesty International with documentary photographers, artists, news-editors, curators, NGO reps and academics. His other books include monographs on photography and on autobiography, among other subjects. He is descended, on his mother’s side, from Baghdadi Jews who were part of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. He is completing a memoir about their story, called Love and Empire: A Family Story.


@Ottoman_Cosmo OttomanCosmopolitanismNetwork www.ottomancosmopolitanism.wordpress.com/

Profile for East and West: Visualising the Ottoman City

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