We had the good fortune of connecting with Steven Baboun and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steven, why did you pursue a creative career?
At a very young age, art was always part of my life. For me, art was a way to escape trauma and pain. As a child, I used to write a lot– creating worlds and characters, transporting myself to kingdoms I created. I felt empowered when I used to write and imagine other worlds that celebrated people, that knew peace, that made me feel okay, that made me contemplate on the state of my planet. For me, imagining these things gave me purpose and control. This was my world, I could choose to destroy it or build on it. I was the conductor, the maker. As I grew older, becoming an artist was an easy path for me because I think part of me was fascinated by the act of making, creating, imagining. Now at 24, I am a full-time artist working in photography, video, performance art, and installation. My artistic career and practice allow me to confront complex and uncomfortable social and political happenings in my homeland of Haiti and Syria– and even, at times, beyond the borders of my homelands. For me, art ables me to imagine alternative ways of living and problem-solving. Artists think differently– we imagine the world we want to see and create tangible documents of that world through our sculptures, photos, paintings, etc. I pursued a career in art to understand not only myself in this world, but to understand the world as a whole. To be an artist today is to shift culture, to define a world of peace and compassion, to rethink the toxic structures put in place to divide us. Art is my defense mechanism, my pedestal. Through art, I find my voice and purpose. And through art, I experience constant evolution of my mind and spirit.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a lens-based artist creating through photography, video, performance, and installation. My practice consists of creating in collaboration with and based off different marginalized or unrepresented communities in Haiti such as the queer community, the multicultural community (i.e. the Haitian-Syrian community), and the religious community (i.e. Haitian Vodou). My work has traveled to Los Angeles, Haiti, Miami, South Korea, China, Netherlands, and New York City. He has shown at El Rincón Social during Fotofest in Houston, Texas, an online show hosted by Dab Art on artsy.net, Photoville in New York City, Platform-L Contemporary in Seoul, South Korea, the Pingyao International Photography Festival in Shanxi, China, and Museum Belvédère in the Netherlands. I think the main lessons I learned along the way is to always stay authentic to myself, to be open to change and evolution, to be kind and compassionate. I think these core values have led me to where I am today.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am currently based in NYC and one of my favorite spots is Lakou Cafe in Brooklyn. It’s a Haitian coffee shop and it always brings me comfort.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout my homelands of Haiti and Syria– and the communities within these countries that have played a formative role in my artistic career. To my family, my friends, Haitian and Syrian queer folks, to the strong women in my life, thank you.
All images taken by me.