Silvia Rosi

2019 - Ongoing

London, England, United Kingdom; Tambacounda, Senegal; Lomé, Maritime, Togo

Silvia Rosi's Encounter is a fictional representation of her family album, exploring tales of migration and diaspora through self-portraiture, performance and symbolism.

Inspired by an image from her own family album, of her young mother as a market trader in Lomé Togo, Rosi retraced her parents’ journey of migration from Togo to Italy. This is a story that is both deeply personal and at the same time universal.

With her mother as source and muse, Rosi performs her family narrative recreating both visual and oral histories through the combination of photography, text, and video. She references the aesthetics of West African studio portraits through the use of backdrops and props. The act of head carrying, a skill traditionally passed on from mother to daughter, is central to the work, learned and performed by Rosi in an attempt to regain a tradition that has been lost through migration and her position as a European.

Encounter is a homage to the family album, an object which is in constant transformation and recontextualization as time passes and relationships progress.

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  • Self Portrait as my Mother in School Uniform (2019)

    image text:
    She worked as a market seller from a really young age to support her mother. She would leave the house early in the morning with a tray of toothpicks carried on top of her head. She walked around the neighbourhood shouting loudly to attract customers' attention. After selling for about an hour she would go home, bathe, put on her uniform and walk to school with her sister.

  • Mother and Grandmother, Sihin (2019) - Still from video

  • Self Portrait as my Father (2019)

    image text:
    He was an educated man from a good Togolaise family. He arrived in Italy with a few
    clothes, some books and the dream of finding a good job. A few weeks later he was picking
    up tomatoes in a field for a few cents a box.

  • Self Portrait as my Mother (2019)

    image text:
    She arrived in Rome in 1989 to reunite with her lover and found a job straight away as baby
    sitter for a family. One day while she was cleaning their living room, she heard on the radio
    they were going to pass a law that would legalise every migrant on Italian soil. She was glad
    she listened to the radio that day.

  • Self Portrait as my Father on the Phone (2019)

    image text:
    In Italy he could not find the opportunities he had dreamt of, so he decided he would leave.
    He picked up the phone and asked her to follow him to the Netherlands.

  • Self Portrait as my Mother on the Phone (2019)

    image text:
    She said she couldn’t move, not again, not with a baby. She begged him to stay but he
    wouldn’t listen. When she got home that night he wasn’t there and his things were gone.

  • La sconosciuta (2019)
    Video/Photography Installation

    video audio narration:
    A woman walks on the road that brings to my grandmother’s house in Sanguera.
    She’s holding a bag around her harm and she’s wearing a simple dressed. I can’t take my eyes off her, Maybe because she’s in from of me, or maybe because she looks mysterious.
    I wonder where she lives, what she does for a living, what’s inside her bag.
    All of a sudden she stops walking. She takes off her bag, places is on top of her head and she carries on walking.

  • Angélique (2019) - Still from video

    video audio narration:
    A woman walks around the garden on her way to the kitchen, holding a tray full of clothes. All of a sudden her phone starts ringing. She lifts the tray and places it on her head, she reaches to her pockets to grab her cellphone and she takes the call.
    She gesticulates and moves around, almost as if she forgot the tray, now and extension of her own body, is on her head.

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