Steven Baboun | Artist in Residency

Steven Baboun

Artist: Steven Baboun is an artist and photographer from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and based in New York City. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Arts and a minor in Education Studies at American University in Washington, DC. He’s currently an MFA Photography student at Parsons School of Design with an anticipation degree completion date of August 2020.  Baboun creates through photography, installation, video, and performance art. His work explores diverse social issues within the Haitian community such as queerness, race and social class, politics, religion (namely Vodou and Catholicism), and multi-cultural identities. Baboun presents to the world the complexities of Haitian society and how Haiti is an incubator for innovation, creativity, and storytelling. His works have traveled to Haiti, New York City, Los Angeles, China, Miami, and South Korea.

Artist Statement: This image is part of a series entitled Bmalké Have You Seen Port-au-Prince? I started making work about my multiculturalism— more specifically my identity as a queer Haitian-Syrian. Through the landscape of family, immigration, and multiplicity, and the use of textiles and fabric, I am looking at how my family’s journey in the world created my identity. Created me.

My grandparents’ immigrated from Syria to Haiti in the 50s for a better life. I am fascinated by their journey across the world— from the Middle East to the Caribbean. They left Syria behind to settle to Haiti. They have brought to Haiti with them their cuisine, language, and religion. They had children in Haiti— all 5 of them being Haitian. 

This work is specifically looking at my return to my grandparent’s village of Bmalké, Syria after more than a decade. This was my first time returning after the revolution and civil war started. It is not the Syria I left in 2008. I wanted to explore my family after the start of all the political chaos, unrest, and injustices through surreal, almost fantastical portraits of my mother (a Haitian-Syrian who returned with me for the first time after the revolution), my grandparents (who goes back and forth between Haiti and Syria and has tracked the political downfall of Syria after each visit), and my cousins (who left Haiti very young and currently attend school and live in Syria). What is life like in Syria for them now? What happens to my mother when she is seeing her other homeland hurt? How do we heal as a collective when our homeland is suffering? How does the fluidity of my mother and I’s identity help us heal? How do we find comfort in Syria through our Haitian heritage? 

Steven Baboun

Grandchildren In Transit, ca. 2019
31 × 40 × 2 in
78.7 × 101.6 × 5.1 cm

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