The work speaks of grief, death and mystery, based on the story of a girl, Nina, who was strangled by the father of her unborn child and thrown into the sea. The body, made bald by the seawater, was recovered a few weeks later but as her pregnancy was deemed dishonourable, Nina’s father refused her a funeral and the community colluded in silence. After a while, Nina’s niece, Anna, and other villagers began to have visions of a naked, bald woman which led to a collective response of religious invocation. De Rosa visited the village and met with Anna to hear the story and visit the locations where Nina’s ghost was seen.
The images are mostly low contrast tinted monochrome with a variety of subjects and viewpoints, coming together as an eerie evocation of this dark and tragic story. I remember at the time of seeing the images feeling inspired and somewhat liberated at the idea that this contemplative and fine art approach was not dismissed as too whimsical or insubstantial in the contemporary photography world.
The images are arranged to resemble the engagement ring that never was. The central photograph is an infrared image of Nina’s house. Encircling the room from this central point De Rosa’s haunting black and white photographs form the band of this metaphorical ring. We see in these pictures the hope, violence, tragedy and subsequent reparations connecting Nina’s life and legacy.From Laura Noble’s curation notes
I could not recall any of the specific images except for the horse’s eye and the hair but just remembered the general mood and the way it made me feel. It was successful as the story stayed in my mind as a torch for all the other millions of women through the ages who have befallen a similar fate.
Looking again at the images today, a year later, it seems I was inspired/influenced on a subconscious level because my recent lockdown images are alarmingly similar. I didn’t remember she’d used the broken egg which I was so fond of myself.
And I did not remember the infrared images although it make sense with the theme. The images are presented as evidence but not in a clinical way which is what I have been exploring as part of my ‘excavating the present’ research.
This is very discouraging on a practical level. Some of the images I have created recently which I felt most closely expressed the feelings I am trying to convey are far too similar to de Rosa’s to be deemed original. And it is discouraging on a macro level. I am constantly arguing with my inner Downer Demon who says, “What is the point? Everything under the sun has been done before.” I had been winning lately but this has put me on the back foot again. Try again, fail again, fail better, as our man Beckett tells us.
From a hauntological point of view, de Rosa’s images are powerful. They literally evoke a spectre but also touch on the idea of conjuring.