PROVING OUR EXISTENCE (2015)

I’m always so afraid of forgetting the tiny details of where I’ve been and the people I’ve come from. I’m frightened of leaving and not remembering. 

Tania with a picture of her mother.

Tania with a picture of her mother.

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TANIA

“The preservation of pictures is so important. My memory’s really bad so I always relied on pictures in order to remember. My mother has so many photo albums and we’ve grown up having a photographic memory of our childhood and our parent’s youth. I appreciate that so much. I don’t ever take it for granted.  My mother’s still the same. She is a vivid and vibrant person. You can see it in the way she poses, the way she’s dressed and how she’s styled her hair. I see myself in my mother.  I feel like we’re living parallel lives. And I feel like we have this need to make our mark on this world. We know that we’re going to die, that we’re not eternal beings. We want something outside of ourselves to serve as a reminder that we were here.”

Ebyan is holding a picture of her mother and grandmother.

Ebyan is holding a picture of her mother and grandmother.

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EBYAN

“We’re mostly sending pictures to family abroad. They don’t really send pictures to us.  I was born here. I never got to see their reality. It takes me back. I like seeing how people dressed and the things they did, and imagining what they were like. It’s a fond memory to keep with you. It’s so important to preserve them. My mother forgets that the pictures exist. She stares at them sometimes. But she still thinks she is the same person and that there hasn’t been much change. It’s cool that they know where they come from. I want to pass down pictures and say, ‘that was me’ when I have children and grandchildren.”

Fatiima with a picture of her grandfather.

Fatiima with a picture of her grandfather.

FATIIMA

“My grandfather bought us sweets often when we were younger. We didn’t care about the bullets we heard in our neighbourhood at times because we had him and of course the sweets. That’s all that mattered. I think home is definitely where my grandparents are.”

 

Warsan standing with a picture of her parents.

Warsan standing with a picture of her parents.

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WARSAN

“I want to keep it safe forever.”

Annina is holding a picture of her grandmother.

Annina is holding a picture of her grandmother.

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ANNINA

“The family keeps the picture safe. Now that I have it, I want to keep it. I want to put it on my wall. I’m the same age as she was in the photograph. I feel a connection to it. It makes me think about how different her world was from mine. My grandmother was a refugee and she went to Austria. There’s an emotional trauma that you carry when you’re displaced. There’s so much I want to ask her. How was it adjusting? She always felt a difference. She never wanted to be there. How was it to be a young woman, a doctor, supporting your family? There are so many questions to ask. She was retired and looking after her grandkids when I knew her but I always wanted to know what her passions were. The past is another country.”