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Bumi Thomas,
We Come  

Bumi Thomas,
We Come  

‘We Come’ is a didactic piece informed by the notion of becoming. This piece is a response to the intersection of displacement, health and gender identity explored in the SELMA project.

It emerged from reflections of these states of being and how we come to be categorised and identified by the accumulation of the subjective and objective experiences that are logged in the mind and ultimately located in our bodies.

    It recognises the body as the site of arrival and the location of our desires to be recognised, respected, seen, included, loved, treated justly and so on.

    Paradoxically the body is also the site of trauma, prejudice, discrimination, oppression, displacement and psychosis.


I began with exploring the role of music as collective memory and the role the sonic plays in preserving the experiential/existential aspects of the migratory as well as the totems/objects that embody them.

The soundscape comprises collected sounds of movement, travelling through the city, ambient conversations typically held in motion, the cacophony of multiple languages being spoken in unison, sounds of nature/the natural world collected at the Horniman Museum & Botanical gardens and the sounds of clearing away precious belongings I lost as a result of my personal own displacement in the quest to be adopted by this civilization. This leads me to Fanon and the place of ideas as things we think with in order to make work that captures the moment of crisis, whilst allowing the creator to embrace the journey travelled thus far.


lFanon offers a sketch of the relationship between ontology and sociological structures. This is no more evident than in the opening chapter to Black Skin, White Masks on language. Fanon’s reflections on language, racism, and colonialism begin with a wide claim: to speak a language is to participate in a world, to adopt a civilization. Fanon engaged the fundamental issues of language, affect, sexuality, gender, race and racism, religion, social formation, time, and many others. His thinking from theorizations of blackness to a wider, more ambitious theory of colonialism, anti-colonial struggle, and visions for a postcolonial culture and society.

    Race organises the story of power. It may manifest itself as psychosis, however, it arrives already informed by the histories that produced it. Perhaps we can begin to rethink the catalogue of Mental health as a history of othering.

‘We Come’ acknowledges that we are in a constant state of becoming and the displacement that arises as we traverse these states of being, whilst constantly negotiating the shifting landscape of socialization.

    We become the other, we become displaced, we become our gender identity, we become our diagnosis, we become racialized, we become migrants, refugees or citizens. In the fluidity of this becoming is space to rethink, reshape and reimagine the position of power, place, the enigma of arrival and policies that focus on rehumanisation.

A word on the process

Working with the group Listening to the lived experience of the other participants, sharing our traumas and ways of transcending them created a new dimension to the project. What emerged was a connecting thread informed by the language of textiles that interweaved themes explored with reference to the social and ideological fabric of being. There were echoes of the body as the site of dislocation, assault, forgiveness, protest, resistance and remembrance.

It was a painful, liberating and life-affirming experience.