FRESNO — Explorer Steven Sim and producer Ani Hovannisian will give a presentation on “The Hidden Map of Historic Armenia” on Tuesday, November 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, Room 191 on the Fresno State campus. The documentary film, “The Hidden Map,” will be previewed during the presentation.
Scotland-native Sim may be the most-traveled modern explorer of the historical Armenian lands in present-day eastern Turkey. As an architecture student in Glasgow in the early 1980s, Sim decided to spend a summer among the little-known medieval Armenian monuments of eastern Turkey rather than the oft-studied landmarks of Europe. During that first trip, he came across a landscape of abandoned architectural masterpieces. What began as a student project turned into a lifelong obsession and mission: “It was a land empty of anybody having interest in it, and I just happened to stumble upon this empty land, and decided to make it my own.”
Sim has spent nearly 35 years documenting the remaining sites and relics of “Turkish Armenia,” traveling alone every year from Scotland to uncover, experience, and commit to memory the vanishing traces of the Armenian past. He has, to date, taken more than 100,000 photographs.
Five years ago, Armenian-American producer and documentarian Ani Hovannisian met Sim as she was traveling through Turkey to discover the ancestral homeland she had heard about all her life from her Genocide-survivor grandparents and historian father Dr. Richard Hovannisian, among others. Trekking through cities, towns, and villages across the country, including her grandparents’ hometowns, by chance, she ran into Sim in an old Armenian house in Kayseri.
The unexpected intersection of their journeys merged into a friendship, and ultimately into a joint return expedition and answer to the call of the land, with Sim continuing to uncover what lies beneath the modern map of Turkey, and Hovannisian documenting his story and that of the people who live there now. As the testimony of the structures and the people emerge, so does evidence revealing the hidden map of Historic Armenia and now, the documentary, “The Hidden Map.”
The lecture is free and open to the public.