So often photo albums and other repositories of memory are tucked away in basements and drawers and remain untouched, and yet the web of family can be a rich source of inspiration and analysis for artists, documentarians, and everyday people.
Educator Kamal Badhey and her adult and teen students, William Page, A’ssia Rai, and Valerie Zink reflect on their journey of investigating their family archives. Kamal will share the process by which her autobiographical work, Portals and Passageways, an excavation of the life of her great-great grandfather Annam Rathnaiah, became the curricular backbone for her adult education course Family: Reinterpreting the Personal Archive at the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, and for the Teen Academy course, Reconstructing the Family Album at the International Center of Photography.
Former students will join the conversation, sharing their personal motivations and reflections on their family archives. Each will share process-oriented, slow forms of family work that incorporates writing, archival photographs, personal objects, or stories. Student creative engagement expands our notion of family by paying tribute to ancestors, disrupting linear narratives, and re-imagining new spaces.
Featuring: William Page, A’ssia Rai, Valerie Zink
Moderated by: Kamal Badhey
Kamal Badhey (she/her)
Kamal is a photographer, educator, and independent curriculum designer of South Asian ancestry with an M.A. in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London, and an M.S. in Museum Education from Bank Street College. She is a member of the Urban Photographers Association, and South Asian Women’s Creative Collective. She is interested in ideas of dispersal, diaspora, and origin pilgrimages, and uses photography and oral storytelling to stitch together stories.
Her work and sense of home follows the childhood Telugu saying told to her by her mom, “Katha kanchiki, manam intiki, ‘The story goes far, far away, and now we are back in our homes’”. Beyond family work, she is passionate about the poetic narration of underrepresented stories through photography. This work in accessibility has opened channels for teaching and mentorship with youth, teachers in training, and senior citizens, through the Bronx Documentary Center, Literacy Through Photography: Tanzania, International Center of Photography (ICP), Back to the Lab, and the Parsons Scholars Program.
My name is A’ssia Rai. I am seventeen years old and I am an artist. I am a non-binary Muslim individual and I find myself writing poetry, drawing, painting, taking photos, and singing. I was born in New York City and currently reside in Housatonic, Massachusetts. I grew up in Lahore, Cape Town, and London. I am half Pakistani and half Indian. I am a sophomore at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. I helped create a music collective named Drab Ave. We have been publishing music on a couple of platforms, as well as performing on our campus. I have attended several ICP workshops since 9th grade. I also attended the International Writing Program at Iowa University. The session was called Between the Lines.
William Page (he/him/his)
William is a proud Durham native, a high school wrestler turned college cheerleader, and a major blerd who, at this very moment, is probably daydreaming or reading about some Afro-futurist/Black speculative matter. Curiosity and a wandering nature have led him to a range of work settings over the years—a gym, an elementary school, and an oral history-based community organization, among others. He also found his way to social work school somewhere in there.
Since 2017, he has coordinated support for artists of color in residence, as part of the pilot Documentary Diversity Project at the Center for Documentary Studies. He spends a ton of his spare time in various thrift stores and establishments, giving heart eyes to gently loved reading materials and amusements, that he doesn’t have near enough room for but gets (and needs?) nonetheless. Fortunately, his loving partner, family, friends, and fish (Ariel and Takeoff) remain very supportive. He also finds a little time to work at Letters Bookshop, and he plans to one day open a shop specializing in Black speculative fiction and comics.
Valerie Zink is a documentarian and community organizer interested in land, kinship, and colonial inheritance in the Canadian prairies. She is currently working on a transmedia documentary with the National Film Board about farmers’ relationship to property ownership and land restitution, and plugging away at a long-term project exploring the evolution of her family’s dairy farm into an underground hamlet. She grew up in the foothills of Alberta and currently lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, where she wrangles a one- and two-year-old.