The Voyages Issue
Sept. 22, 2021
My father, who is Swiss, was working for a couple of years in West Africa when he met the woman who would become my mother in her homeland of Guinea. They ended up settling in Switzerland, which is where I lived until I turned 27. Since then, as a photographer, I’ve spent years exploring my mixed-race background, in projects focusing mainly on Africa — Guinea, but also South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Benin, the Ivory Coast and elsewhere.
Now I live in the Bordeaux region of France, but during the pandemic, with international travel made difficult, I found myself with a nostalgic desire to reclaim who I am. This summer, when I finally had the opportunity, I chose to explore Switzerland — not the Swiss culture in which I grew up but the original sensations with which I built myself. I celebrated the national holiday and saw the fireworks in Iseltwald, on Lake Brienz. I took a train up to the Jungfraujoch. I went hiking all over the country. And I spent days visiting my father’s cousins, most of whom live in the French region, in Neuchâtel and La Grande Béroche.
It all brought back buried memories — both good and bad. I tried to document this journey within myself, showing the complexity of how we constantly modify our representations and experience of the past. I wanted to rediscover the being I was yesterday, as well as the sensations that made me who I am today and who I will be tomorrow.
Namsa Leuba is a Swiss-Guinean art director and photographer whose work is currently being shown in a solo exhibition in Charleston, S.C., until Dec. 11. Her first book of monographs, “Crossed Looks,” was recently published by Damiani.
Additional design and development by Jacky Myint.