What is a community, and who is in it? How is the community different from the neighbourhood? Where does the neighbourhood begin and end? How do bodies become subjects and objects in the neighbourhood space? What drives an exhibition hall’s desire to become a neighbour? What is the relevance of institutions for people living on the margins of society in Berlin? Because the needs of the neighbourhood are recurring, life-long and continuous, my work as a Neighbour in Residence will be to find ways to address these questions.
The question of residence determines under what terms I can begin to imagine a life. It impacts how I show up in the world. A residence is never simply a question of how long a person is allowed in a place; it is rather a very fundamental question of existence in space just as we are. Residence to me is about rooting oneself in a place or a community. It is living with certainty. It is belonging to a place that wants you to live within its vicinities. A place you are not at risk of losing.
As a migrant from Cameroon who has undergone asylum processes, the question of residence governs every aspect of life. The idea of a residence, a stable place to keep my body in always lingered and hovered over me as I moved across multiple German cities. I see this role as an opportunity to enter into a meaningful relationship with community members. To listen, to learn, to think together and to work towards mutually beneficial interests.
hn. lyonga is a Black, Queer, multi-genre writer, Poet and curator of perspectives, MA student in American Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, co-founder of the Black Student Union at Humboldt, member of the Kuratorium of BARAZANI.berlin – Forum Kolonialismus und Widerstand, the artist collective Field Narratives, with interest in Black speculative literature, fixity of land as infrastructure and storytelling as an act of memory reconfiguration.
My work can be considered Wake Work, because it is a labor within the space of paradoxes surrounding Black citizenship. And because it is the work of continuous inhabiting and rupturing of episteme (Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being).
This lecture takes place on July 9th, 2023 from 16.00 to 18.00 CET.
At Gropius Bau.