Funded through the Knight Arts Challenge Detroit, “This Picture I Gift” is a book of exquisite photographs by Michelle Andonian, with images captured in her grandmother’s forfeited Armenian homeland. By way of introducing readings from the book, which took place at Pages Bookshop on Saturday, April 23—just one day before the 101th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide—Andonian acknowledged the inherent awkwardness in trying to talk about a book of images. Photographs, after all, are doing the work of telling stories all on their own; to add a layer of text is to compound the so-called 1,000 words each image is worth.
However, words are sometimes necessary for context in dealing with a subject as dense and emotional as the fraught political history of Armenia. Andonian managed to get into the Sebastia region (now called Sivas), from which her grandmother was forced to emigrate in the wake of the targeting and mass execution of the Middle Eastern Christian minorities by Turkish armed forces, beginning in the spring of 1915.