The exhibition Letters from the Past took place in Rome at Officine Fotografiche from September 16th to October 14th, 2022.
Letters from the Past focuses on domestic and sexual trauma experienced by the artists own family. The project consists of an exhibition, a documentary (40′), and workshops.
On the project: Letters from the Past tells the complex story of sexual abuse within Rebecca Simons’ family. An uncomfortable encounter between her and her grandfather brought long forgotten memories to the surface. Disgust, denial, anger and forgiveness, the confrontation with the past sends shockwaves through her family.
But how to write off a grandparent, a husband, a father? Letters from the Past tells a personal, complex story of clashing realities and memories of a family.
The exhibition tells a nuanced story about the sexual abuse creating an environment which allows the visitors to reflect. In the installation the viewer is confronted with familial memories in which the protagonist appears both as an ideal man and a perpetrator.
The walking through memories allows the participant to slowly take in and reflect on the complex feelings that abuse brings forward, how to re-shape memories and re-structure the family story. Letters from the Past does not just want to present works that bring the artist’s point of view to light, but aims to give space to the reflections of visitors by creating the basis for a dialogue.
The workshops, designed for different targetgroups, are an important follow up after the subject of sexual abuse has been brought up. They touch on topics such as taboo, trauma, guilt, support and healing processes.
The project, promoted by the City of Rome (Roma Capitale – Assessorato alla Cultura), is winner of the grant “Estate Romana 2022 – Riaccendiamo la Città, Insieme” curated by the Department of Cultural Activities and realized in collaboration with SIAE.
The project also received support from The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, Art Promotion Centre Finland and Svensk Österbortniska Samfundet.
The exhibition and the collateral events have been realized in collaboration with BeFree, cooperativa sociale contro tratta, violenze e discriminazioni, with the institutional support of the Finnish Embassy in Rome, and from the support of the city hall Roma VIII.