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Studio Photo Kegham: disrupted archive of Gaza

The grandson of Kegham Djeghalian, a survivor of the 1915 Armenian genocide and founder of the first photography studio in Gaza, recently organized an exhibition with the negatives he found three years ago.
A group of women, Gaza Strip.

In 2018, the artist and academic Kegham Djeghalian found three small red boxes that his father had left in a closet in his apartment in Cairo. Each box contained, with no apparent logic, a collection of different negatives from the 1940s up until the 1970s. The photos were taken by his grandfather — also called Kegham Djeghalian — whom he had grown up hearing stories about on how he was the most important photographer in the Gaza Strip, but without never actually seeing his work. Djeghalian decided to take the 1,100 negatives to Paris, where he lives, and started to scan and process them.

Last March, Djeghalian curated an exhibition addressing the legacy of his grandfather, the first professional photographer in Gaza. His aim was to explore the visual history of the Gaza Strip. The exhibition took place during Cairo Photo Week, a photography festival held in downtown Cairo.

“This project has been haunting me for almost 12 years. I took two steps and then took 10 back,” Djeghalian told Al-Monitor. “What got me interested is to study Kegham without engaging in [proper] archival work — because there is no archive, there is a legacy,” he said.

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