During a visit to her homeland Alexandria in 2001, almost forty years after her family’s abrupt expatriation from Egypt due to the political unrest during the early sixties, D. Meimaroglou visited the town’s Greek cemetery in search of her grandparents’ grave. While wandering around the premises she happened to notice a very impressive grave, a monument carved in white marble depicting a young woman hanging on to a huge cross. The inscription on that grave included the young woman’s name, date of birth and that of her death. She had died in 1928 at the age of 26. The monument was in excellent condition. There was only one anomaly: The missing head of the statue which seemed violently chopped off.
The photograph which the artist felt compelled to take of that particular observation became her conceptual directive to her participation in a group show Purple Earth which took place within the grounds of a 16th century monastery on Sifnos, a Greek island with a site specific installation entitled Homecoming.
“My family’s un-voluntary expatriation from Egypt, the country which I consider as ‘home’ and the notion of being a perpetual emigrant has affected my life deeply. The first thought which crossed my mind upon having to choose a location in situ for my participation in the above mentioned show was to construct ‘my’ grave; a private space in which I would rest forever. The photograph of the monument from Alexandria served as a backdrop against the remains of the farthest wall of the demolished cell in a 1:1 scale; as for the missing head, a mold in plaster, bearing my own features, violently separated from the ‘body’ depicted in the photo, was lying a few feet away, on the cell’s ground which had been covered in red earth”.
–Despina Meimaroglou, Summer 2001.