Sydney Rahimtoola

Sydney Rahimtoola (USA) graduated from the Bachelor Photography department at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK) in 2018.

Nominee Bachelor Photography department Award
Special mention Academy Bachelor Thesis Award

Graduation project 2018

I Forgot How to Speak Spanish (film)

“What is our identity in modern day America?” My name is La Babosa (cry baby). I was born and raised in Junction Boulevard, Queens, NY - full of migrants coming from Latin America. My family is from the Dominican Republic. They moved to the U.S. for a better life. Life here is a mini island, dense with cultures immigrants left behind but maintain here. I am also American with American values. There is confusion about my identity. I know I am not alone. That’s why they call me “cry baby” - I am confused, alienated about my identity. This is the result of my world. How I perceive this community as a member; using my family as actors, giving them a platform in this story. Yet, I play the role as an outsider: reducing them into caricatures.

Thesis: Undo

I identify and research the dilemmas present in the representation of people of color (POC) in photography. These dilemmas include the “primitive” semiotics that we identify in our imagination with POC, hindering our experience with the visual content at hand. I go in depth with how the semiotics of the primitive came about, using the colonial past as evidence. The key element to demonstrate these points is through African-diasporic hair, formulating an in-depth analysis to J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s Hairstyles archive, and the consequences to post-colonialism and identity. Keeping hair as the focus point, I attempt to analyze how POCs today counteract with these stereotyped implications using image and black folklore as tools of reclamation.

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