On Saturday 24 April 1915, in Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire, seven hundred notable Armenian and intellectuals were arrested and murdered on the orders of the Young Turk government. This date marks the beginning of a vast program of deportation and extermination of a people for centuries integrated with other communities in the Ottoman Empire. The first genocide of the twentieth century will cost the lives of nearly one million three hundred thousand Armenians and leave thousands of refugees and orphans scattered in Europe and the Middle East.
The horrors of the massacres, few images are known. However, photographs of ruins, deported or orphans in refugee camps of Aleppo or Beirut, were collected by Jesuit missionaries in this part of the world in 1881 or taken directly by them. Some of the Jesuits proved talented photographers such Poidebard (1878-1955) and William Jerphanion (1877-1948). If some of the photographs were sometimes reproduced, this exhibition allows most clichés going out for the first time, collections of Oriental Library at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, the library is remarkably rich history.
Nearly a hundred photographs make up this exhibition ; between original prints and prints made from the negatives by the laboratory of the Museum of Photography in Charleroi.
If this exhibition unfortunately sounds like a terrible echo of the news from the Middle East, its purpose is not to witness the same tragedy of the massacre of the Armenians, but its consequences. It also helps to put a face to the people, to discover their living conditions before 1915 and their reconstruction attempts in exile in camps or schools.
This exhibition is the result of collaboration between the Library of Oriental Library of the Saint Joseph University of Beirut, the Boghossian Foundation and the Museum of Photography in Charleroi, under the sponsorship of the Boghossian Foundation devoted to development This library for the preservation of photographic collections of Oriental Library, on the advice of the Museum of Photography in Charleroi.