Trail: Surviving Through Images by Silvia Rosi

Why would anybody be interested in looking at someone else’s family photos?

When we do, we learn of a private dimension that we all share, but only become aware of in the moment we meet somebody else’s. Photographs make our existence evident, undeniable; but family images do more. They connect us to the realm of affection, they speak of our humanity and dignity.

In her book Image Matters: Archive, Photography and the African Diaspora in Europe, Tina M. Camp explains how we are drawn in by an image’s relation to so many others like them. 'Family photos that evoke fond memories of tenderness or affirmation, comfort and safety, but also the ones recalling tense relations of vulnerability, rebellion, judgement or rejection'.

When I think about her words, I recognise my own family album and at the same time, I imagine many others from Italian families of African descent. This is how we built a representation of who we are through images.

Photographs allow us to visualise ourselves as we would like to be seen by others, so I often think of my mother’s journey, and how through her body and her image replicated on paper, she shaped my visual idea of a migratory journey. I make images because my mother did before me.

When I see them in my family album, being far away from home becomes easier, heartbreak becomes easier, pain becomes easier, motherhood becomes easier.

Because someone experienced it before me and is holding the proof we can survive it, therefore I can survive it.

This trail is about surviving through images.

Silvia Rosi is an Italian artist working with photography, text and video to explore ideas of memory, migration and diaspora. She graduated from London College of Communication in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Photography. Recent exhibitions include Encounter, showing at Athens Photo Festival, Landskrona and Gexto (2020); With Monochrome Eyes at Borough Road Gallery and the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2020 at Jerwood Arts. Rosi recently undertook a residency at Thread in Senegal, which she spoke about at a talk for 1:54 A Contemporary African Art Fair