The Names We Bear

By Yodith Dammlash

The Names We Bear is an ongoing series of digital collages using photographs of my mother’s family in Ethiopia dating back as early as the 1940s through the 1970s. I’ve scanned and archived over 300 photographs, negatives, and slides and used my family’s oral history along with my own imagined reality of the subjects, some of whom I’ve never met, as the basis for selecting which images to combine and superimpose.

Not many people of my parents' generation in the Diaspora have this wealth of old photographs, due to lack of resources or the displacement of personal items during exodus. Reworking these images allows me to make sense of the stories I’ve been told over the years, from the carefree moments to the tragedies.