3e prijs, Prijs voor Storytelling

I forgot how to speak Spanish

I Forgot How to Speak Spanish is a 1 channel film installation about a second generation Dominican-American immigrant in New York City, “La Babosa,” a.k.a “Cry Baby.” The film is a visual narrative of the anxieties and nostalgia harbored by American immigrants, particularly focusing on the Dominican diaspora in a Trump’s administration; his policies which make particular migrant communities vulnerable.

“La Babosa,” is the voice of the film and Junction Boulevard, Queens, NY is her hometown where she revisits the domestic spaces and familiar family routines around her. Junction Boulevard’s culture is largely centered on local migrants’ tradition coming from different Latin American countries. Many migrants have come namely from the island nation of the Dominican Republic. It is a place where several mothers run the dynamics, while men lay around with their Brugal bottles, listening to music from the island and playing dominos. Almost everyone talks fondly about “back in the day.”

Through “La Babosa’s” perspective we experience her family as reduced caricatures of themselves in domestic spaces which have been appropriated into an eerie, hyper-visual journey of her identity and the anxieties that come along with it. Anxieties which are relevant for second-generation immigrants’ experiencing their diaspora. The film’s spatial installation is set in a hyper-surrealistic and disturbing neon hair installation, acting as the bridge between the cultural nuances of the Dominican diaspora visualized in the film and the audience. As a major part of the written thesis publication, “Undo,” by Sydney Rahimtoola, hair is a major cultural identifier in the Dominican diaspora.

Living in Trump’s America, “La Babosa” questions the meaning of “home.” What does home mean when the U.S. paints a generalized, clichéd impression of communities like Junction Boulevard? What happens when La Babosa equivalently stereotypes a community which has nurtured and helped mould her identity?


Sydney Rahimtoola