Since Ray Traboulay graduated from Ryerson in 2009 with an image arts degree and a major in photography, his career and life have taken a huge turn.
It all started with a documentary called “Where Is Home?” in which Traboulay was one of four characters interviewed. The documentary follows the characters’ personal search for home. Traboulay moved from country to country for most of his life. Born in Brazil, he later lived in places like France, Argentina, Indonesia, Trinidad, Houston, and Toronto.
“It creates a sort of turmoil in your formative years,” says Traboulay.
Traboulay says that through the process of filming the documentary in Trinidad, his parents’ birthplace, he discovered who he was.
“At the time I was really confused, I was like where do I belong, what is this, what is that?” says Traboulay.
“After doing the interview in that film, I decided (to) take some time off to really discover what this country is about, and maybe kind of ground myself and figure out who I am, what do I really want out of life….because for a long time, I’ve just been on some kind of bizarre, fun, random journey because of my dad’s job.”
During his stay in Trinidad, Traboulay decided to visit Carnival, something he had not done since he had been about five or six years old.
The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival takes place every year around February or March, and is known for its extravagant celebrations and elaborate costumes worn by participants.
Since Traboulay was only able to visit Trinidad with his parents during holidays, he never had the chance to return to Carnival until 2011. It was this carnival that began his journey to self-discovery through photography.
“This is my way of really trying to understand what Trinidad culture is all about,” says Traboulay. “The art there is so amazing and a lot of the rest of the world should know about it, because it doesn’t seem to get that much attention. I think it’s amazing, the amount of time and effort that goes into [it].”
“Carnival costumes carried historical messages and culture in it, that was…my way of healing my own self,” adds Traboulay. “So these are, in a weird way, self-portraits.”
He later spent the following two Carnivals in Trinidad, compiling his collection of photographs that document the annual event. He has recently compiled them into a book that he is trying to publish, and has turned it into the subject of an exhibition that will be showing in the Ryerson Image Arts building, starting March 31.
Traboulay is excited to be bringing his career full circle, by bringing his work back to where his photography career began. As Traboulay puts it, “It kind of feels like being reborn.”