A refugee testimony

The project is based on the memories of the author’s father -- Hrant Margaryan . This testimony is full of dramatic events of 1915:  the refugee life in Greece, the Nazi Concentration camps, the years of Stalin reprisals in the USSR, and their subsequent impact on today’s events.

Based on the verbal stories and exiting documents, the author attempts to demonstrate the essence of the refugee life, and the place and expectations of the refugees in the contemporary world.

The project particularly focuses on the events of the beginning of the 20th century and the Peace Conference of Lausanne.

The Peace Conference of Lausanne was a fatal blow for millions of people in the Middle Eastern countries. Hrant Margaryan’s family was among the refugees who lived in Afion-karaisar during 1919-1922. During the Greco-Turkish war this city became the arena of military operations.

The Peace Conference of Lausanne didn’t solve the most important problem: the issue of the refugees. That issue eventually was sacrificed to the political interests of superpowers and, as a consequence, about 1.5 million Armenian, Greek, and Turkish citizens of Ottoman Empire became refugees.

As it is mentioned in the book “The Peace Conference of Lausanne ” (Beirut 1983, page 206)  ”…in Turkey the estates were gradually taken over, we lost our citizenship, our civil rights  and became stateless”.

Ultimately, this matter was referred to The League of Nations then to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. However, its involvement was humanitarian and not political.

G. Agamben writes: ”Despite the ceremonial calls  to keep the human rights sacred and inalienable, those organizations are not only unable to solve issues, but can not even begin to provide a reasonable approach to it.”

In this project I wanted to highlight what it means to be a refugee and to leave without motherland, civil rights and citizenship. A refugee lives for the sole purpose of finding the lost identity and re-establishing the unique self in the society.

In the contemporary world the number of refugees is dramatically increasing and the solution to their problems is becoming more and more difficult.

The refugees of the World War One set the precedent for the refugees of our times.


2016 - "Uprooted - Déracinés", Modern Art Museum of Yerevan, Yerevan, Armenia