Questioning trends and cultures

Photographs: Regula Bearth © ZHdK

Student portrait Sahili Albert

Sahili Albert, born in Mexico, analyzes Swiss society from a trends perspective. She is also trying to solve her own identity puzzle.

FREDERIC POPPENHÄGER
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Frederic Poppenhäger: Why did you decide to specialize in Trends & Identity?
Sahili Albert: Honestly, I chose to study Trends & Identity because of the programme’s name. It stands for what I was looking for when I was choosing a degree course: my own identity. Having different nationalities, including Swiss citizenship, but also my most unknown one, has always left me feeling restless about not knowing where I really come from. After studying visual arts in the Dominican Republic, I felt that the next piece of my identity puzzle was to study design at ZHdK in Switzerland.

What inspires you?
I think my inspiration has always come directly from my cultural background, which is Mexican, Dominican and Swiss. I am questioning established ideologies while admiring and respecting traditions and age-old customs. I am also inspired by long conversations with people in my surroundings about how we approach our identity and how we might confront the blind spots in it.

How has staying and studying in Zurich influenced your art?
I consider art and design a kind of conversation. Here in Zurich, I am more aware and conscious of the visual choices I make than when I studied visual arts in the Dominican Republic. The aesthetics are different. Colours and concepts are constantly evolving, as reflected in my practice. Talking about ethnical origin has become crucial since living here, because I have experienced things I only read about before. And as an Afro-Latina, I feel the need to become vocal about this. I have become more aware and somehow also more proud of who I am and where I come from and about the issues I want to talk about.

What role do trends play in our society?
Trends are always redefining themselves in a society. I think trends play an important role in how we explain our present and our current circumstances to others and to the future. Trends, for me, play with the nostalgia of our past and with the excitement of our future.

What are your plans after you graduate?
I have recently been trying to say «I don’t know.» I always find myself changing a lot while life goes through me. My dreams and plans have changed completely since I moved here.

What or who deserves a renaissance?
Let me answer this question literally and very personally. I would like my father, who died when I was nine years old, to be born again. This would give me the chance to better get to know him and his perspectives and wishes for life.

 

Further student portraits published in Zett
Frederic Poppenhäger (frederic.poppenhaeger@zhdk.ch) is responsible for communications at the Department of Design at ZHdK.
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