Rehan Miskci
Foto Yeraz*


Foto Yeraz* is a fictitious and vacant photo studio, where figures are absent, but spatial elements, such as large scale backdrops and props, still continue to exist, in fact they convert from serving as objects and start acting as subjects instead.

Studio Photography historically carried an important cultural significance in the Levant. Armenians, amongst other minorities within the Ottoman Empire, were pioneers in this profession when Photography first arrived in the Empire in the late 19th century. Photography studios were/are unique places of cultural production where an architectural space and the practice of photography acted together for the mutual purpose of recording individual compartmentalized histories while oscillating between the fake and the real. Ironically this profession also acted as an attempt to rebuild a ‘home’ for the Armenian community, wherever they were exiled to after 1915. It is significant that a group of people, who suffered from displacement and cultural erasure, would excel in an act that constantly records, collects and values the notion of memory as physical objects.

*Yeraz means ‘dream’ in Western Armenian

Mountain of Foto Yeraz

pigment prints on canvas, studio lights
113 x 47 inches

 Studio Sunset

 pigment print on canvas, studio lights, stool
 53 x 79 inches

Mountain of Foto Yeraz, consisting of photographs taken in Bourj Hammoud, a neighborhood in Beirut populated almost entirely by the Armenian community, serves as a backdrop at Foto Yeraz. Following the fragmentary and metaphoric nature of backdrops; storefronts, signs and various textures accumulate to form the anonymous mountain - reminding of Ararat and the dream of returning home one day.

Studio Sunset is a photo studio in Bourj Hammoud owned and run by George Dervishian, an Armenian studio photographer, born in 1949 in Aleppo, Syria. Studio Sunset’s workspace finds itself as a backdrop in Foto Yeraz, emphasizing the romanticised quality of such studios and their former working methods as well as their clientele. Just like backdrops used to depict space typologies rather than a specific location, as a witness to social and cultural transformations, Studio Sunset, represents all genuine photo studios and their fading characteristics.

It’s Not What It Looks Like

cutout inkjet prints
dimensions variable

It’s Not What It Looks Like borrows shapes and textures of actual props that were used in historic photo studios, attempts to recreate them in life-sized yet two-dimensional forms and shifts their position from serving as objects into becoming actual subjects.

Woman in Dress with Her Left Hand Resting on a Wooden Pedestal

archival pigment print
38.5 x 13 x 19 inches

Woman in Dress with her Left Hand Resting on a Wooden Pedestal borrows its title from the caption of a photograph taken by Sébah & Joaillier (a significant photo studio that operated in Constantinople during the Ottoman Empire, active 1888 - 1908). The title is matched with the placement of a hand image onto a wooden pedestal. This crop is taken from the archive of Maryam Şahinyan. The fact that these two anachronistic parts (the image and the title) match, hints at how the archetypes in Studio Photography functioned and how these photographs were - and still are - being archived. 



Inkjet print on canvas, studio lights
60 x 80 inches

Created with an architectural rendering software, Yeraz serves as a backdrop in Foto Yeraz depicting a scene where various props of a conventional photo studio are scattered around an anonymous location. They appear to be posing, illuminated by the sunlight, in the same way how early studios used to light their subjects. Oscillating between the imagined and the real, it aims to underline the dichotomy between the realist claims of photography and the counter-reality of studio settings. Yeraz, a fantasy about a disappearing practice, stands for all studios, evoking a sense of a ruin - not a tragic one, but one that seems to be in transition.