Residency Reflections: Liz Kobusinge, Lugar a Dudas — Colombia

I came to Cali with a very broad idea of what I would find/what I wanted to find. Nothing found me and it has mostly been too loud, too slow, too much, too little. My tongue won’t curl around Spanish, and my ears hesitate to embrace it. The thing I felt like most in Cali was an outsider.with a very broad idea

Looking back I think ‘outsider’ was an odd way to describe the reality. What I was experiencing was a feeling of loss of ‘power’ while navigating a different context of linguistic imperialism. Cali and Buenaventura have quite a large Afro-Colombian population, so I did not ‘look’ different, but became an ‘other’ every time I spoke. There are obvious questions here of the assumption of understanding that English speakers (even from the Global South) have while out in the world. It was a frustrating feeling for me, but also a point of shame to acknowledge the ease with which I assumed that I would enter this Afro-Latin culture through English.

Agosto, Catalina and I had spent a day together walking in Cali, visiting a museum, sharing stories and our art. I projected an edit of Agosto dancing on a rooftop in my mother’s suuka (flashes of red and gold) onto barkcloth paper I had made in Kampala, with Catalina’s poem forming the soundtrack.

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