HEART TO HEART
Yacelyn Anthonio is a young creative navigating the complexities of cultural identity and self expression. An Amsterdam native with Surinamese heritage she makes sure to highlight and represent her culture through her clothes, however also embracing the multifaceted nature of the city and weaving her own identity from it.
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Have you ever felt a certain disconnection between the way you were raised and the way you look?
For me there has been some kind of struggle since I grew up here in Amsterdam but was raised mostly with the Surinamese culture of my mother. So that is why I do have a connection with that part of my heritage, but I have actually never been to Suriname, nor do I not speak Sranan, so with these things I feel a disconnection yes. The Netherlands is a really western country with western customs and perspectives, which differentiate with the Suriname culture but also matches the way I grew up here.
Now that we’re getting older, does that disconnection feel like it’s balanced out more?
I feel 100% Surinamese, although I am also Moluccan, I wasn’t raised with any of that. But at the same time, I am Amsterdams. This is my city. For me it is not split in half or in pieces of three, I just feel like everything belongs to me. So the disconnection that I felt, turned into acceptance and a positive extension.
You even created a photo series called ‘Waking Dream of a Tropical Child’. Can you tell me a bit more about this pro- ject?
Yes so, I got inspired by the Botter’s FW22 collection which captures Caribbean culture. This instantly clicked with my own story although it is not about Suriname. That was my first intention, but after I had talked with multiple friends, I realised not just people with my ancestry can relate. So I decided to keep it general.
Just like me the character grows up in a cold village so he tries to find connections to the Caribbean in his own surroundings. First he felt like there was a big absence but later on in the story he sees it as a positive extension, like how I experienced it.
For me personally, Amsterdam has contributed to finding that acceptance. I will always recognize myself in some- thing or someone here. How does this feel for you?
Since Suriname was colonised by the Netherlands, the positive outcome is that I can still find a lot of cultural elements here, like the food, or celebrating Kwaku and Keti Koti. The assemblage of people with the same cultural background is just great
Are you aware of how the uniform you put on every day represents your identity?
I guess I am no longer feeling like that lost astronaut – I’m like a chameleon that can merge with plenty of stereotypes. Not just mentally but also physically, I get to use this as my secret weapon. One day I am fully dressed in a Lady Di inspired look and the other day I look like Nas is blasting through my headphones