Rebecca Deramo

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

Those of Ours

“The potentiality of the past, rather than its form and actuality, may be what makes it into something both multiple and my own” – Rebecca Bryant (2014)

I have always been fascinated by the stories and the people in our lives that have lived before us, and the ways in which the different circumstances somehow connect in a moment that becomes the life that I know as my own today. With my work, I explore the past of my family, through the importance of memory, landscapes, objects and materiality, in an attempt to situate myself within this history.

Born to a Greek Cypriot mother and an Italian father, I have inherited a fairly turbulent family history, where certain members were royalty, others refugees, immigrants and first-generation [immigrant] children. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents grew up in countries at times of significant conflict, and from this conflict, themes of movement, displacement, removal and return became common in my family’s story. With these themes in mind, the materiality of my project became important. Almost the entirety of my work is made up of materials that are used when moving house and are also disposable: mobile and transient.

The subject matter of my work is made up of three differing yet connected visual aspects, as well as an audio element of my grandmothers sharing their memories. These three elements are: landscapes, taken from photographs and made with layers of newsprint that are presented in light boxes that are made from cardboard moving boxes; family photographs, made from layers of newsprint, that recall invaluable Greek icons and are presented in light boxes made from suitcases; and a series of relief sculptures, made from polystyrene and layers of toilet paper, which become part of a frieze, referring to objects and various interior spaces, which I recall from my childhood.

Essentially my work focuses on the remains and the remembrance. The places, things and objects that survived after all the removal and displacement. My grandmothers’ memories and stories are the most significant connection that I have with my family’s past. Memory is fleeting and ever-changing, and yet it is what I depend on most in the exploration of my history. It is with this that I attempt to express the stories of those before me, often with overlapping narratives involving Cyprus, Italy and South Africa, in a way that evokes the ephemeral qualities of memory. As is with memory, when the light goes out, the story is no longer revealed to us.

I have learnt through the process of making and through the exploration of the home, both from its location and landscape, as well as the objects and ‘belongings’ which make up its interior, that the history of my family is altogether mine because it is theirs, or as it is said in Greek, oi dikoi mas (those of ours).