Kaitlin Banafsheha

Kaitlin Ariela Banafsheha

What it is
Zaman is an Arts and media collective dedicated to Mizrahi (Middle Eastern Jewish) historical remembrance, cultural consciousness, and current affairs. To learn more about Zaman, click here.

What I did
Generative Art, Motion Graphics


How I did it
Using Adobe After Effects, I experimented with motion graphics to create
(tomorrow in Farsi) to create a 3-part video series. In this project, I zero in on my need to stay present as a young adult with a hybrid identity, asking how to ground myseelf amid constant rumination about my relationship to my family’s culture as I grow into adulthood.  

I’ve been having a harder time than usual staying present. I never understood the importance of doing so; it seemed like some phrase that yogis threw around when they talked about spirituality, and I never took it seriously. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized how much it applies to me. The tensions between and melding of my Iranian heritage and American upbringing have caused me to reflect on what “staying present” could really mean for someone with a hybrid identity. I get lost trying to reconcile how I relate to each facet of who I am — Will I fall off track with one identity? Will I forget about the other? How can I feel at home constantly trying to negotiate a relationship with the past as the future presses on?
As I worked to answer those questions, I thought about times my family members might have asked them, too. I recently asked my grandmother to send me some photos of her most joyous occasions— her wedding, her daughter’s bat mitzvah. The time between the two events was split by the Iranian Revolution, which changed her life forever— not only because of the physical upheavals it caused, but because of the ways it forced her, and my whole family, to reflect on their changing relationship to their culture as immigrants. It taught them that one of the best ways to remain grateful and grounded throughout change and hybridity is to relish the time we spend with our families.
I also took time to reflect on these questions through my work with animated graphics and typographic design. I played around with the word farda فردا — tomorrow in Farsi— and watched as the word moved in a state of simultaneous turmoil and fluidity across the screen. After taking a step back, what I’d created left me thinking, again, about the state of “presence.” I thought about times I might have been experiencing things I’d want to remember just as much as my grandmother wanted to hold onto memories from Iran, and how I’ve been living the better part of my life letting them pass me by.
I decided that as farda approaches in all its uncertainty, I want to live my life and relate to its complexity with firm, unadulterated presence. Farda serves as a reminder to be grateful for what I do have, to find a home in these tensions and meldings of cultural difference, and to stay present as a key to fulfillment and satisfaction.
It’s taken and has continued to take practice to intertwine these two facets of my identity, to find balance these two variables of past and future. That effort has only emphasized the importance of staying present in my eyes— looking around me, appreciating what contradictory variables can coexist in one cultural experience, and staying true to what really matters to me as time moves forward, toward farda.