Marissa Largo

What Were You Worried About? (2004)

“What were you worried about? is a print series that explores my mother’s narrative of displacement and the fear behind the belying façade of her glamorous passport photo. I asked my mother about her worries when she was immigrating to Canada. In the varied edition, her enlarged passport photo was printed on semi-translucent Japanese paper and layered on top of her text narrative, alluding to hidden fears behind the charming smile. This work is juxtaposed with Papers, Please, a commentary on the immigration process and the reduction of identity onto redundant, bureaucratic forms. The hope for a better life is captured in every desperate printed stamp, sourced from the envelope containing immigration documents from my cousin in the Philippines. Personal stories of separation, pain, and dreams give way to point scales, marketable skills, and accurately completed paperwork. This body of work becomes a way through which others and I can empathize with the experiences that arise from displacement.