"...create a tender map in which a lover’s body stands for a city, while, conversely, the city itself is imagined as a corporeal affair... an intimate geography, a body-city on a tender map." 1
Forming a Tender Picture, 2018, KLA ART Festival (Kampala, Uganda).
A day of walking, feeling, writing and sharing through 3 of Kampala's 7 Hills (on which the city was originally built.) - Led by local tour guide and Mountain Club member, Deo Lubega.
During the walk, the group stopped at each hill to learn about and discuss the formative elements and histories of Kampala, its architectures, ecologies and culture. These were an apt moments to learn from those who had lived through its expansion, as well as generate a conversation with those who might be more transient, who were passing through or returning after a long absence, that saw it with different eyes, and those who had very little local knowledge other than immediate bodily experience (mostly me.)
After talking our way into a feeling for the context of each site, the group undertook a set of sensory writing exercises (that can be found below) that worked with and against these conceptions, to generate a new, individual and collective connection.
Hill 1 - Nsambya (architectural compounds & seeing)
The earth is umami and the buildings both sour and sweet. We look for an anchor.
A building, or a monument, or a statue. A structure you have a history with, that has a history. It was once beautiful but now grotesque OR it was once grotesque but now beautiful. Or somewhere in the middle of this process. You like it for your own reasons. A memorial of a scar. A scar of a memorial. §
Hill 2 - Lubiri (flowers, scents and smelling)
The breeze stirs, folds and compresses. A scent that works to guide our feet, a lazy day, empty with free time, when a scent grips you, you may have been hungry, or curious, so you went out to find out. A secluded spot, a garden or park, a bustling cafe? a friend or family's home? §
Hill 3 - Old Kampala (memorials, mosques and hearing)
A rattling sound, a thud, a crack, an ooze, gargle, liquid split, laughing, bustling. Think of a sound you associate with coming together, a gathering, a party, in a place in which you might meet friends, or share an important, intimate conversation. Think of a place filled with sound, a chamber and an echo, a church or a hall, a place of jubilation, praise, rejoicing. A place you might sit quietly in and appreciate that what is around you, A place to be connected to others through something outside yourself. §
§highlighted are excerpts from an email chain between Deo and myself, through which a path for the walk was formed. Initial 'motions' were used to place us both in a generalised (non)space, which was then fleshed out and brought dow to the earth by Deo and his expansive knowledge of Kampala's history.