Curaçaoan artist Omar Kuwas shares his experience with the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. He speaks about his misadventures leading up to his arrival in Aruba, and how his misfortune led to an unexpected form of bonding with his fellow resident artists. This led him to conclude that although each island in the Caribbean may take pride in their differences, there are some fundamental similarities which continue to ‘link’ us together.
All images courtesy of the artist.
Traveling to Aruba for Caribbean Linked II would mark the second time I’ve traveled to the country. It is a trip that I’ve only done once before about three years ago despite having lived for more than 20 years on neighboring Curacao hardly 20 minutes away by plane. As such I was looking forward to the trip knowing that this time around I would have more time to explore the island; as last time I was here for barely three days.
This trip would also be both the first time that I participate in any kind of residency program and an exhibition supporting Caribbean works. I’m quite familiar with the workings of both, yet normally from the side of the facilitator being an employee of the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) on Curacao.
I knew from the get go that by extension of my line of work –analog pinhole photography– there would be some possibilities for things to go slightly askew based on what was planned. What I didn’t expect though, was for these deviations to start before I left Curacao. Due to a pretty interesting accumulation of unfortunate events, which included me forgetting my passport for the first time ever, and one of the local aviation companies going bankrupt the weekend before the North Sea Jazz Festival, one of the largest on the island and no mention of a check-in time anywhere on my ticket (or online for that matter), led to the loosing of my scheduled flight to Aruba.
A nice conversation with the company representative resulted in a rescheduled flight, this was postponed to the last flight of the day as all of the earlier flights were fully booked with stranded travelers trying to get to their destinations and connecting flights.
Taking this situation in good stride, I decided to make good use of my free day to relax, have a nice Colombian lunch, nap and dispatch of as many clay pigeons as I could find time for. All of which were welcomed activities after a couple of intense weeks rushing to have all my work done in time for Aruba, while also managing the projects that I would be absent for at the IBB as the new school year started on the 2nd of September. At the end of the laxed day I showed up on time with my passport and boarded a surprisingly short flight to Aruba for Caribbean Linked II.
Little did I know that my misadventures with air travel to Aruba wouldn’t be a unique experience. It marked the start of a whole lot of similarities between the different islands that we would figure out during our increasingly longer nightly “linkings”.
If there is one single thing that I will take away from this experience, it’s that while there is great diversity and much pride among the islands in the Caribbean for not being the same as each other, we are more alike than I’m afraid we will ever be comfortable admitting.
About Omar Kuwas:
Born on June 28, 1985. Graduated in 2009 with a degree in Communication & Multimedia Design with minors in software engineering and photography from The Hague University of applied sciences in The Netherlands. Has been involved with ArteSwa and Instituto Buena Bista since 2007 and been working there full time doing IT, design and teaching (analog) photography since 2009.