words and other words

Words and other words is my on-going project exploring my experiences growing up as a first generation immigrant in the west.

I was born in Pakistan, and later moved to Italy at the age of 5. We lived in a relatively small town on the outskirts of Milan, in a predominantly white neighbourhood. I was the only Asian kid in my school, there was no one like me. I started to notice my differences from a really young age, which ultimately made me aware of every small incident that highlighted those differences. Ever since I can remember, I've tried extremely hard to fit in. I distanced myself from my culture and started to dislike everything that made me appear different, my life revolved around me proving my “italianness” to those around me. Regardless of my active attempts at fitting into the western ideal, I was always reminded of my differences in one way or another. “Where are you from?” is one of the recurring questions that I would get asked on a daily basis, as a stubborn 7 years-old my answer would always be “I am Italian!” which always followed “but where are you REALLY from?” - they were never satisfied with my answer, they always needed further explanation on my ethnicity and where my parents were from.

Being constantly challenged by adults on where I felt like I belonged was extremely hard growing up, I started to feel out of place in what I considered my home. ‘words and other words’ is a visual document of my story as a first generation immigrant in the west, one out of the millions out in the world.

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