Tasha Doremus (b. 1966 GB/US)
Franciscus -house 22nd Jul – 30th Aug 2013
Toivo-house 17th Oct – 31st Dec 2013
Residency 29.3. – 30.5.2013,
in Rauma until 25.7.2013
Krisse. "This is where she comes to gain peace." Picture Tasha Doremus
Sini. "She has had 14 surgeries on her legs and there are more to come, but I have never met someone as strong as her.” Picture Tasha Doremus
Exhibition at the Toivo house
Lapijoki. Picture Tasha Doremus
Syanotype workshops at Lapijoki school. Picture Tasha Doremus
Throughout the spring and summer of 2013 Tasha Doremus was working with the Rauman Seudun Katulähetys (Rauma street mission) to create a communal art project. Doremus, who is a photographer, co-operated with residents of Toivontalo and Valo (alternative vocational course) workshop course attendants and the staff to work on the idea of memory on the body. The participants were asked to talk about where the world has touched them and left an effect that they have never forgotten. From the many meetings and photo shoots and from listening to their life stories, the exhibition Scars, Caresses & Souvenirs – Mapping Memory on the Body was born.
During her RaumArs residency Tasha Doremus also held a workshop in Pori Art Museum (at The Night of the Museums) where participants were able to have a photo taken of special places on their body like tattoos and piercings. She also gave cyanotype-based workshops for both the Kuninkaanhaka school in Pori and Lapijoki school in Eurajoki.
In July-August and October-December there were two exhibitions under the same name Scars, Caresses & Souvenirs – Mapping Memory on the Body, but they were a little bit different. Besides photos taken in Rauma the exhibition held in Franciscus House also had portraits taken at the Saharawi refugee camp of Boujdoor.
At the Toivo House the exhibition was more centered on the specific work done with the people of the street mission. In this part of the project, Doremus spent numerous days with the Valo youth visiting meaningful places where they have felt hope, peace and empowerment.
The titles of the photos say something about the feelings Doremus sensed from the conversations with the participants during the time she spent with them: “She stands with strength by the water like an angel with clouds for wings”, “This is the place where he learned to love and forgive”, “Varicose veins often upset people who have them, but she seems to have a good attitude about them!” and “These scars represent all the doctors who didn't believe her.”
Two years ago Doremus began her project, which dealt memory on the body, in her hometown of Philadelphia. Last autumn (2012) she photographed a similar series in Algeria in the South-Western Sahara, when she visited one of five refugee camps of Saharawi people displaced from Western Sahara during the 1975 war. Thousands of inhabitants have been living in the desert for over 35 years. Even though they are divided from their homeland by the longest land-mine wall in the world, and the rest of the world seems to have forgotten them, Doremus was impressed to find so much courage, pride and even joy in the camps.
Human skin can be seen as a sort of map that memorises physical interactions with the world. It is almost as if we come dressed in our experiences. Doremus looks for the invisible bruises and involuntary markings that make up the unique landscapes of who we are as individuals, regardless of whether the memory is bitter or sweet. And whether the photographs are of people from western Finland or Western Sahara, in their stories and memories people tend to reveal their strength and persistence and ultimately reveal their similarities to each other as human beings rather than their differences.
Tasha Doremus was born in Britain to Anglo-American parents and spent her early childhood in Japan. She has studied Archaeology and Ancient History at Liverpool University and worked as a freelance excavator and illustrator for universities, museums and archaeological institutions in Britain, Bulgaria and Turkey. She taught herself photography after moving to USA in 1993. Since 2001, Doremus has been living in Philadelphia where she has been working in the photography department of the University of Pennsylvania. She was a member of Nexus, Foundation for Today’s Art from 2006 to 2010. She exhibits internationally.