Auction of Souls



Aurora Mardiganian was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Hoping to find her surviving brother, she went to the United States. At Ellis Island she met a New York-Armenian couple who took her in and placed advertisements in newspapers. Her story came to the attention of Harvey Gates, a filmmaker in Hollywood who was quick to recognize its commercial potential. In 1918 a film was made about her experience, with Mardiganian herself playing the leading role. The film was released under the title Auction of Souls in 1919, and catapulted Aurora Mardiganian into unexpected stardom. She experienced great difficulty meeting the social responsibilities forced upon her by the public appearances to promote the film. Aurora threatened suicide and abandoned the promotional tour. As a result, seven Aurora doubles were hired to appear during the promotional  campaign. The seven »Auroras« in this installation recite texts from the account of Aurora’s experiences published as Ravished Armenia in 1918, before the film’s release. Because the film of Aurora Mardiganian’s story has been lost (only a twenty-two minutes have been preserved), this installation is an attempt to bring Aurora’s spirit back to the big screen.

By Atom Egoyan

Part of 6. Berliner Herbstsalon GEZİ – TEN YEARS AFTER. Ein Prolog im Frühling.