Statement: Foto Galatasaray is built on the re-visualisation of the professional archive Maryam Şahinyan (1911, Sivas - 1996 İstanbul), who worked incessantly in her modest studio in Galatasaray, Beyoğlu, between 1935 and 1985. The archive is a projection of the professional career of a female photographer in İstanbul, as well as a unique inventory of the demographical shifts in the sociocultural map of post-Republican İstanbul. Using a hooded wooden camera, which her father had acquired from an immigrant Balkan family during the First World War, and black -white plates, which she used until 1985, Şahinyan stood by her technical and ethical principles and almost suspended time itself against the technological developments and popular requirements. The physical archive of Foto Galatasaray, consisting of black-white negatives and glass plates, is amongst the rarest examples of works from the classical photography studios in İstanbul in recent memory. Having changed hands following the handover of the studio in 1985, the archive was moved to the storage of Yetvart Tomasyan, the owner of Aras Publishing. After a wait of 25 years, the archive of 200,000 images has been subjected to grading, cleaning, digitalisation, digital restoration and categorisation for two years by a team composed by Tayfun Serttaş.
Apart from photographs in which subjects were prepared to memorialise the moment, documentary portraits and mise-en-scene of various content stand as proof of the great meaning of the need for cultural representation in the daily cycle of life. Consisting of various political periods, such as the Property Tax of 1942 and Cypriot War in 1974, the archive is open to various views, ranging from the dilution of Greek, Jewish and Armenian minorities in İstanbul in inverse relation with the population of Anatolian immigrants; changes in outfits, hairstyles and accessories; and inter-generational gaps stemming from adaptation to city life to prototypes of social gender norms as they reflect upon the camera, not to mention Şahinyan's aesthetic habits as a female photographer.
Maryam Şahinyan was born in 1911 in Şahinyan Mansion, which is one of the most ostentatious civilian structures in Sivas. Her grandfather Agop Şahinyan Pasha was the representative of the city in the Ottoman Parliament of Representatives, which was founded in 1877. Following the events of 1915, which she had witnessed only a child, her family sought refuge in İstanbul. In order to support his family, her father Mihran Sahinyan became partner in Foto Galatasaray, which was run by two Yugoslav brothers in Beyoğlu. Having completed primary school at Esayan Armenian School, Maryam Şahinyan enrolled in Saint Pulcherie French College but later had to leave due to financial strains, leading her to assist her father in his studio. Unlike her siblings, Maryam Şahinyan began at an early age to learn the intricacies of studio photography from her father and decided in 1937 to run the studio on her own, shouldering the financial burden of her entire family. Throughout half a century of professional life, during which she never married or had children, Şahinyan ceaselessly operated her studio in three different locations in Galatasaray. Having employed a hooded wooden camera, which her father had acquired from an immigrant Balkan family during the First World War, and black -white plates, which she used until 1985, Şahinyan stood by her technical and ethical principles regardless of the technological developments in photography. Throughout the period of her activity, she bore witness to demographical and sociocultural changes of fifty years, including the Property Tax of 1942 and Cyproit War in 1974. When she handed over her studio in 1985 due to old age, she left behind one of the most unique archives of İstanbul that consisted of approximately 200,000 images.