GROWING UP, Silina Syan by Sonia Recasens

“A fiction inspired by the works of Silina Syan”

Published in June 2020

(Made in Local – Season #5 ACROSS #25)



On the occasion of the 5th season of ACROSS, thankyouforcoming has commissioned texts from art critics and exhibition curators in residence on the French Riviera.
Of a relatively brief format, these texts comply with a common narrative arc: namely placing the artists and initiatives encountered by the residents during their stay at the heart of the writing process.
We hope you enjoy discovering these distinctive perspectives, which will in the long run constitute an original overview of contemporary creation in the Alpes Maritimes department!

Instagra of the artist

Residency of Sonia Recasens

“GROWING UP – A fiction inspired by the works of Silina Syan”

Becoming a woman

When I grow up, I’ll own thousands of jewels. Jewels that shine. In gold. With sequins. Rhinestones. I’ll have earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, nose rings, anklets, toe rings, hair jewellery, arm cuffs. I will be beautiful and strong like Wonder Woman, like a Bollywood star, like an R&B singer, like a Hindu goddess. My jewels will produce music to the rhythm of my footsteps.

My jewels will be my armour, my legacy, my fortune.

When I grow up, I’ll have long nails. I’ll pimp them like my brother pimps his bike. I’ll be the Queen of Nail Art. Nails will be my personal, creative and transgressive outlet. Slutty, sexy, kitsch, vulgar, superficial… My long nails will seduce and disturb.
I’ll open my own nail bar. A safe place for women to Dare. Thanks to their long nails, they will learn to assert their conspicuous femininity, to heighten their power to threaten.

My sharp claws will be proudly displayed as a sign of resistance, a sign of defiance.


An immigrant from nowhere, a foreigner from inside

Today, she is grown up and needs answers. The stories she would tell herself as a child are no longer relevant.

As a girl, she loved to play Happy Families. But instead of playing with others using Disney or farm animal cards, she preferred to play alone with family pictures, which she removed from the various albums carefully arranged in the living room’s jam cabinet. With their covers displaying forests, waterfalls or beaches, the albums fascinated her, but they were too bulky for her small body, they were hard to handle. And the pictures were organized in a precise order, that left little room for improvisation. She preferred removing them from the plastic film and mixed them together to form an impressive pile. This way she could take each picture in her hands, touch it and bring it close to her face to look at it, scrutinize it, as if she were deciphering a treasure map. She carefully examined the clothes, the jewellery, the hairstyles, the gestures… She imagined the conversations, the personalities, the noises and the perfumes. She imagined she was with them. She made up stories in which she was always the grown-ups’ darling, in which they complimented her, her hair was braided, she was given cake, she was carried on someone’s shoulders… Sometimes she would challenge herself to remember everyone’s name, as her mother had taught her. She also tried to remember how they were all related. Who is who? To whom? But that game was difficult. There were many faces she had never seen for real because they hadn’t been here for a while or because they were there and there was far away.

As she handled the family photos, she travelled through countless pasts and North African villages… She would spend hours neatly spreading the pictures out in front of her, reconstructing the scattered pieces of a large puzzle, filling in the blanks with the power of her imagination. She envisioned herself in stories she hadn’t experienced, stories she made up by reconfiguring geography and genealogy.


She now asks her parents to tell her their story, their experience. Her father reveals the narrative of his arrival here having graduated from high school there. Her mother shows her the pictures taken there after her wedding here. Her father browses through the photo album as through a geography book. Her mother spreads the pictures like a fortune teller. Her father lists the towns, the places, the dates, the nationalities… Her mother describes the warm welcome, the beautiful faces, the wonderful landscapes. Her father poses proudly, often alone, in front of a square, a monument, a restaurant, a car, a fountain… There are always many people surrounding her mother. Her father wears jeans, a T-shirt and a jacket. Her mother wears a sari.

Her father is an immigrant here. Her mother is a foreigner there.

As for her, she stands at their intersection: an immigrant from nowhere, a domestic foreigner.

Sonia RECASENS, Mai 2020 (translated by Aisling Halleman)




Légendes :

Silina Syan, J’aurais pas osé, 2019
Edition, 385 pages
Photo: Silina Syan

Silina Syan, Aller là-bas, 2019
Video, son couleur, 15’’31
Photo: Silina Syan

Silina Syan, J’aurais pas osé, 2019
Edition, 385 pages
Crédit photo : Silina Syan

Silina Syan, Arriver Ici, 2019
Video, son coukeur, 6”33
Photo: Silina Syan

Silina Syan, Pink Paradise, 2018
Video, son couleur, 9”54
Photo: Silina Syan