About the Project

Rowrow smiled at me as she lay in a hospital bed, 38 weeks pregnant with her fourth child. Her prison greens sat carefully folder next to her, two corrective service officers hovered nearby. At 9:20 PM we heard his first cries. I cut his cord and he lay content with his mummy. Yet it’s hard to celebrate a birth when you know what’s coming.

Four days later, with tears in her eyes and breasts full of milk, Rowrow was handcuffed and transported back to prison. The next morning baby John and I travelled eight hours by train so he could be with family. Seven weeks later, in a gesture of cruelty only bureaucracy could invent, Rowrow was released early on bail, the damage already done.

I never imagined my girlfriends would be incarcerated. Growing up, it was usually our boyfriends. It’s easy to grasp now when I consider, women, specifically First Nations women, account for the most significant growth in Australia’s prison system. I grew up in a small town in Australia notorious for its open drug culture and alternative lifestyles. As young women, our choices were limited; violent relationships and becoming a mother at a young age were normal, and the dream to “leave and start a new life” meant leaving our family, friends, and community behind.

Yet, rather than understanding the complexities of trans-generational trauma caused by colonization and on-going dispossession, or the cyclical nature of social disadvantage in Australia, women continue to be blamed for being homeless, beaten, pregnant, unemployed, addicted to drugs, or incarcerated.

As such, I have spent a decade documenting women in my life—my twin, my stepsister, and new and old friends—as they grapple with the complexities of motherhood, trans-generational trauma, turbulent relationships, bureaucratic violence, and the burden of low expectations. Each experience has been rewarding, complex, and at times heartbreaking.

Weaving narratives of love, longing, and belonging, You’ll Know It When You Feel It is a long-term project which aims to accentuate these invisible stories in Australia—a country where racism and class bias thrives and where those experiencing the complexities of poverty are misunderstood, demonized, and dehumanized.

– Raphaela Rosella, artist

About the Exhibition

During the day, You’ll Know It When You Feel It can be viewed on monitors inside the ICP Museum and during evening hours, images are literally “projected” onto the windows of the ICP Museum; they can be viewed from the sidewalk outside the Museum and are most visible after sunset.

This installment of ICP Projected was co-curated by Lucy Pike, photo editor of WeTransfer. Listen to a conversation with Raphaela on capturing the sometimes-difficult world she grew up in, and the effects it had on the women she knows and loves.

About the Artist

Raphaela Rosella is an Australian artist working in the tradition of long-form documentary storytelling. Blending the conventions of photography, documentary practice, and advocacy Rosella spent over a decade documenting women in her life as they grapple with the complexities of motherhood, bureaucracy, and turbulent relationships.

Rosella has exhibited extensively, including Photoquai (France), Noorderlicht Photofestival (Netherlands), and In/Out Transylvania Photo Festival (Romania) and in 2014 she was a World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass recipient. Her work has received many distinctions, including First Prize (Portrait Singles Category), World Press Photo Contest (2015); Australian Photobook of the Year (Momentro Pro) (2015); and most recently the PHMuseum Women’s Photography Grant (2017).

Rosella holds a bachelor’s degree in photography with first class honors from the Queensland College of Art (2012).

TOP IMAGE: © Raphaela Rosella