My mother, Alicia Kuratomi de Bhaumik, immigrated to the US from Colombia fifty years ago to become a photographer. This year, guided by her memory, I returned to Colombia with the same model camera that she had used as a student. I visited places she remembered—the only home she had ever known, a place known to the family as “la casa de la estación” because it rattled violently every time the train rolled past. I tried to find the movie theater that played the Blue Danube and showed Tarzan movies. I also visited places she had never known including the WWII camp in Fusagasugá that my grandfather was held in. He, along with one hundred other German, Italian, and Japanese prisoners, were held in a former luxury hotel-turned-concentration-camp under pressure from the US government. This archive questions not only the US but also Japan, Colombia, nationhood, privilege, and colonialism in all of its entanglements. It challenges the myth of the Asian American model minority that reinforces anti-blackness and anti-indigenous xenophobia. Through the exchange of her camera, The Archive of Dreams, seeks connection and belonging in the face of isolation.

Read more about the exhibition in El Tecolote.

Select text from the exhibition:

Alicia Kuratomi de Bhaumik was born in 1949 in Palmira, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. On May 28, 1969, she left Colombia for the USA. The youngest of eleven siblings, she has lived in Pasadena, California for the last fifty years. Alicia is a brave, tenacious, and determined woman who traveled alone to Los Angeles at the age of twenty. She worked and struggled with great effort and sacrifice to support herself, pay for her university studies, and survive in a place so different from what she was accustomed to. Alicia received her Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Studies from California State University in Los Angeles. She married Ranga Lal Bhaumik Pramanik, who was born in 1946 in Kolkata, India. By coincidence or by destiny, Ranga Lal and Alicia entered north to the US on the same day and year: May 31, 1969. They have two children, Sita and Jayashis. —     Adapted from The Bridge: A Familiar Gathering, by Blanca Kuratomi de Masuda

Alicia Kuratomi de Bhaumik nació en 1949 en Palmira, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. El 28 de mayo de 1969 partió de Colombia hacia los EEUU. La última de 11 hermanos, desde hace 50 años vive en Pasadena, California. Alicia es una valiente, tenaz y decidida mujer que viajó sola a Los Ángeles a la edad de 20 años. Ella misma trabajó y luchó con grandes esfuerzos y sacrificios para poder costearse sus estudios universitarios y sobrevivir en un medio tan diferente al acostumbrado. Recibió la licenciatura en artes en Estudios Industriales (Fotografía) del California State University, Los Ángeles. Contrajo matrimonio con Ranga Lal Bhaumik Pramanik, quién nació en 1946 en Kolkata, India. Por pura coincidencia o por el destino Ranga Lal y Alicia entraron al país del norte el mismo día y año, 31 de mayo de 1969. Tienen dos hijos, Sita y Jayashis. —    Adaptado de El Puente: Un Encuentro Familiar, por Blanca Kuratomi de Masuda.

[3:50, 18/7/2018] Luis: I mean her dream was to be an artist, then she had a daughter that became one :)
[3:51, 18/7/2018] Sita: Does that make me an archive of dreams?
[3:51, 18/7/2018] Luis: Pienso que sí
[3:58, 18/7/2018] Sita: That makes all of us archives of dreams
[3:58, 18/7/2018] Luis: Pues claro, la vida es sueño


“The Blue Danube” by Johann Strauss II.
Recordings from El Paraíso, downtown Palmira, and the house of the station.
Palmira, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, 2018

Recordings from the Japanese Colombian Associacion and family gatherings.
Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, 2018