Alec Mansky, ’19
I interviewed Saide on Tuesday night regarding her new project: BHSEC Bedrooms. Her project is novel; giving nuance to the actual people in Bard. Funny as that might sound, the actual real life people at BHSEC are special, but not usually the first noted thing about the school. Now obviously, this is true for every high school, because people are a variable, but that doesn’t make this project something to pass off. Additionally, Sadie noted that she would eventually like to expand this project to schools all across the city, and maybe the nation, by having other photographers start their own highschool Bedrooms social media platform.
Started by Saide Singh and Daphne Knouse, this project examines the people of BHSEC, which are often overlooked when discussing the school. Often, the faculty, the classes, or the BHSEC run clubs and organizations are the pride of the school. However, this project looks intensely at the people who make up the student body. It gives a platform for individuals in a very personal way, by taking takes students out of school and giving them a place to be comfortable. Central to his project is an intimate interview without a cap on time in the interviewee’s bedroom. Straight off the bat, people who don’t know Saide may feel uncomfortable with her coming into their private space , but that is precisely why the project is so singular. Saide tells me that one of the core points of the project is to “break [the interviewee’s] personal bubble, in their comfortable space.” She wants the people she interviews to feel comfortable at all times. One aspect of this comfort is that none of the answers have to be released. What happens is that Saide posts on her BHSEC Bedrooms instagram that a person or group of people are being interviewed sometime in the following weeks. Then people direct message Saide with questions for the upcoming interviewees,, while Saide also comes up with some of her own. Finally, Saide goes over to the interviewee’s bedroom, takes a few photos, then interviews them. She asks a wide-variety of questions, mixing her own with online submissions, taking as long as she likes, and keeping the interviewee’s identity private. Then she takes after-interview photos, which are “photos I never thought I could’ve taken” she says.
Why did this project start? The idea of the project was triggered by a yearning in Saide over the summer, to photograph people and interview them. She told me how it was at first a selfish project to try to get to know people very personally, but has erupted into a platform for people to demonstrate their complexity to rest of BHSEC, which Saide reminds me, “is hard in a high school setting.” We both decided to call it “therapy art” at the end of the interview, reminding everyone of something we share, and that everyone is learning to be a human. This project requires everyone to be comfortable: that is, the readers, her, and the interviewees. She ends by telling me a quote by Maya Angelou which she believes encapsulates the project:
“People will not remember what you do or who you are but how you make them feel”