Snow blankets the countryside along a road between Van and Dogubayazit, Turkey, close to the border with present-day Armenia. The region of Eastern Turkey is where the largest population of Turkey’s Armenians had been living for centuries. The region of Lake Van was hit hard by violence during conflicts between Armenians and Turks in the late 1800s to early 1900s, as well as during WWI. After the deportation decrees in 1915 were issued, almost all of the Armenian communities in the area were subsequently wiped out.
• Kathryn Cook states that her work “explores the remains and traces of an ambiguous, dark history.” With this idea in mind, what role do you think physical sites of memory can play in our understanding of a particular culture or history? What is included or missing in this photograph that supports your answer?
• Armenian Genocide survivor John Minassian asks, “What happens when those who harm others get away with it? What is the legacy of that silence?” How would you answer these questions?
• Imagine that you knew nothing about the context of this photograph. What would you see? How does knowing more about the historical context impact your interpretation of the image? What do you think the photographer wants you to see? What do you think she wants you to think about?