Surrounded by her works of art exhibited in the Galleria Mancaspazio in Cagliari, Josephine Sassu, a sardinian artist and teacher, tells us of the reasons and feelings that led her, since she was a young girl, to never seeing herself as a mother, following the footsteps of some of the women in her family of origin who did not have children.
JOSEPHINE: «I remember when I was just a little girl I heard a very close friend of mine saying that when she grew up, she was a year younger than me, so at the time she could have been 11 and me 12.
That when she grew up she would want to get married marry and have children.
And I remember this upsetting me, because I never thought I’d have to grow up, but most of all, I never thought I’d have to be a mom.
Even coming from a family where my mother, who was an extraordinary mother, even though I also have my father, she was the man of the house.
She was a truly extraordinary woman, a very strong woman.
When she passed away very young, at 58, and many have remembered her as they still do, as a woman who gave men a hard time because of her strength, and how much she challenged men
who maybe weren’t as strong and hardworking as her.
So I had as a role model a mom who was Superwoman, Superman, who was certainly a very caring mom, but she was also a mom who really thought outside the box.
Even as working woman, because it was something maybe even different.
Unlike my father’s side, I was raised surrounded by female models even though very peculiar, where my grandmother represented the Great Mother.
Perhaps like the Earth Mother of my paternal family, the Sa mere, who took care of this family as wisely as possible, and with other female figures as my grandmother’s this sister-in-law, my grandfather Sassu’s sister,
Auntie, we used to call Aunt Angelina Auntie.
She acted as a mother for his brother and his father, because my great-grandmother passed away very young, too, therefore she chose not to have children, to take care of his father and his brother.
She renounced to her own inheritance for my grandparents’ family, and to raise their children, to raise them in this extended family as we would call it today, but I think in Sardinia it was always a fairly normal family, with, say, the spinster sister, let’s put it this way.
This attitude, come to think about it, not to have children, not to have them or maybe not to want them, was also inherited by my father’s only sister, so the second Sassu who had no children.
She’s been quite a devastating aunt maybe, I would say definitely a disaster who took care of everyone, but who made quite a mess, but she had no children of her own, so maybe the major disaster was avoided.
I am therefore the third generation of Sassu women, although I also call myself as Bagiati, using my mother’s surname, from Umbria, who didn’t have any children.
Thinking back to what my friend told me at the time, which still buzzes in my mind, I always thought that I didn’t see myself as a mother, that maybe I would be a bad mother, with such an incredible mother as a role model, I really had an unusual mom, one of a kind.
But I’ve never seen myself as a mom, so I might have been a Lunàdiga all along, without being aware of this term, which I have learned recently.
I must say that I find this term a bit unsettling, even though I love animals very much being animals often a subject of my works.
Ewes, which I respect a lot, make me feel uneasy, as I imagine that the Lunàdigas sheep will be expelled from the flock because they only fulfill… only by becoming food themselves, do they fulfill the role that nature gave them, and that man has built for them.
Surely, it’s one of the animals that strikes me the most, now that I think about it, because motherhood makes them slaves.
I don’t think motherhood can make you a slave, First, I think it’s a necessary function, because without this humanity would not exist.
Let’s say that it is a role, up to now, if science doesn’t intervene, it is a typically female role.
Genetically female, without going too much into gender issues, or any physical issues, reallly.
Often at work I deal with this kind of issues because being a teacher, and also for life choices in the art world you really meet and can be just about anything.
I think motherhood is clearly a fundamental role for humankind, but also the most disastrous, seeing what humankind has produced.
So I often deal with the role of motherhood, being currently a teacher in the Italian public school.
Often talking to parents, often talking to moms you discuss about this thing: “Do you have children?” “What about your children? hence the fact of being not a mother eventually always comes up.
I myself tell my students, “Thank goodness you’re not my children.” but I’ve always had, pretty firmly, maybe before being aware that I am a non-mother, an idea of motherhood which is kind of universal.
Although it’s not… how can I say, a rhetorical idea: I give birth because I create art works; I am a mother because I have students, but surely, I always thought that motherhood, having these examples in the family of my great-aunt who has been a grandmother just like my grandma who gave birth.
So examples of motherhood beyond what the body actually gives.
Ultimately, I must say that physical motherhood was never really my… I was never interested.
I’m still the one listening to my friend saying, “When I grow up, I want to be mother and wife,
while I didn’t do this.
But deep down, I don’t know if I am a Lunàdiga, I think motherhood, somehow, is being in this world, and take care of someone, maybe even being a father, maybe even a human being.
One of the great passions of mine is primitive art and therefore the sculptural forms are those of Mother Earth.
Maybe Mother Earth is exclusively related to motherhood, at least not for me.
Lately, I’ve been reading about this, but I think that yes…. Being in the world gives many opportunities, it is necessary to give birth otherwise we would not be there.
We do not all have to, I didn’t, and I’m glad.
I never regretted not being a mother.
Clearly, if you look at me carefully, I no longer have time to change my mind.
Everybody told me: “You’ll see, when your biological clock will tick, you’ll see…”
But my biological clock ticked, but I must say I’m kind of hard of hearing.
I don’t not regret being in the world without children.
You can have children all the same.
I was lucky, by the way, as my brother has three daughters Sassu, I hope one of the three makes me a great aunt, so that I can keep on doing what my great-aunt did.
Being a mother without being a mother, after all, doing good things for others.
I’ve heard some ladies remembering her saying, “Ah, when my mother died, Aunt Angelina came to make bread.”
So you can be a mother also by making bread.
I won’t do that, as I don’t even love cooking, which is even worse.
Not only you don’t have kids, you don’t even like cooking!
Well, that’s the way I am. I do other things.»