Descendants of 1915
Descendants of 1915, 2016. Plaster, TV monitor, 30 minute film, 8 ft. x 12 ft.
On April 24, 1915, leaders of the Ottoman Turkish government set into motion a plan to systematically massacre and remove all Armenians living within the empire. Over the next several years, around 1.5 million Armenians were murdered or sent on death marches through the Syrian Desert in what is known as the Armenian Genocide. The genocide is still denied today by many countries including Turkey and the United States. It is illegal in Turkey to publicly speak about the Armenian Genocide. My senior thesis piece, Descendants of 1915, documents the faces and stories of local Armenians whose ancestors were genocide survivors. More than fifty Bay Area Armenians participated in the video and sculptural installation—some shared haunting descriptions of how their families escaped the genocide while others participated in face casting. Their cast masks and survival stories are testaments to the strength and resilience of their ancestors. The piece raised awareness for the 101st anniversary of the genocide and brought the local Armenian community closer together. Although the installation is no longer on exhibition, the film and face castings will continue to live on as archival evidence of a dark and denied period in history.