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Encounter- Silvia Rosi

Silvia Rosi is an Italian- Togolaise Visual Artist, who through her project, ‘Encounter’, revisits her families history and explores her heritage through the tradition of ‘head carrying’. Through this body of work, Silvia connects to her heritage through the act of ‘head carrying’, a common practice in many parts of the world as an alternative to carrying a load on one's shoulders or back.

When asked what inspired her project, Silvia responded by explaining, “whenever I travelled to Togo with my mother, we would visit the market of Assigame in Lomé. I always found it a fascinating place. I wanted to shoot a project around trade and women head carriers in the market. By looking at a picture from the family album that portrayed my young mother selling make up in Assigame, I understood there was a connection between my family history and that place. The picture was to me, a window into my mother’s life immediately before migration, and from that, I built the structure for my project.” Head carrying is a practice that has been around since ancient times in parts of the world such as Africa and Asia amongst others. Despite its main aim being the ability to release a load from an individuals shoulder or back and instead put it onto their head, in some cultures and traditions, it is used in religious ceremonies, or as a display of skill in certain rites of passages and dances.

“I spent a lot of time researching for this project, so I think the image-making was the most relaxing part of the whole process. I was building sets and performing in front of the camera both in the studio and outdoors during my residency in Senegal.” Stated Silvia. The performance element is apparent in Silvia’s portraits which adds to the overall aura of her images. “I found a side of my family history that I didn’t know and that I was able to understand through photography.” Expressed Silvia. Combining photography and film, Silvia’s portraits display deeper readings, an expression of struggle, resilience and perseverance come through in her images, engaging the audience on so much more than an aesthetic level, but on a level that projects the significance of keeping in tune with one's culture.

Silvia Rosi is an Italian/Togolaise Visual Artist, working with photography and video to explore ideas of memory, migration and the diaspora. To view more of her work, visit her Instagram

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