On Saturday the 12th of February, 16.00 hrs the opening of the exhibition De Verleiding van Coronie (The seduction of Coronie)/2, will take place in de Haagse Kunstkring, Denneweg 64, The Hague. The opening includes the presentation of the book Dromers, doemdenkers en doorzetters; verhalen van mensen en gebouwen in Coronie (Dreamers, doom-mongers and go-getters, stories about the people and buildings of Coronie). Coronie is the smallest district of Suriname, with less than 3.000 inhabitants.
It begun as many other love relationships tend to begin, with the attraction to outward beauty: the old wooden houses with spacious yards; the abundant green; the swaying coconut palm trees. The names of the places also intrigued: Inverness, Mary’s Hope, Hague, John, Bantaskine, Burnside. Where did those names come from? Soon more questions arose: who lives here, what goes on behind the peaceful façade? What was it like here in the past; where are the old stories?
Also, what does the future hold in store for this scarcely populated area? Can the characteristic buildings be saved from further demise? Is Coronie an example of a nostalgic paradise, or of a rural region that is slowly bleeding to death – just like other places in the World?
Slowly the idea took shape to document the old houses and the stories of the people, to preserve them for future generations. Especially because in part it concerns a disappearing world: many of the old houses are slowly falling apart; the elderly who can tell about how it was in the past are of very old age. That is how the book Dromers, doemdenkers en doorzetters; verhalen van mensen en gebouwen in Coronie, written by Fineke van der Veen, Dick ter Steege and Chandra van Binnendijk; designer Maya Timmer (KIT Publishers, Amsterdam; 2010) came to be.
Coronie is also a source of inspiration for artists. On the welcoming billboard which you see when you enter the district it says: Coronie: Vredig, Vrij en Vriendelijk (Coronie: Peaceful, Free and Friendly). But quickly you start to realize, that under the apparent sense of peace, the discontentment smolders. And free, what is free? Free to sit by the side of the road? Free, once every few years to vote, yet to never be heard? Friendliness, yes, that is precisely our weak spot, says someone, it is because we are friendly that everyone thinks that they can take us for fools and do with us as they please. But is Coronie really that friendly? No, several people say, there is a prevailing sense of mistrust and jealousy. Yes, others say, it is a wonderful, restful place to live. The paradox of Coronie is a source of inspiration for artists. You can make your own projections; create your own ‘Coronie’: the green peacefulness of Coronie serves as a mirror which reflects your own dreams, nightmares and images.
In the exhibition De verleiding van Coronie/2 eight Surinamese artists (and one from The Hague) display their perception of Coronie. Sunil Puljhun uses graphic black and white to show the endangered position of Coronie; Rinaldo Klas refers to the strength of the sea regarding ‘Land loss’; Kurt Nahar uses his characteristic style to utter a protest in his collage ‘Stop terrein 8B (Stop train 8B)’; from Rene Tosari we see his impression ‘Coronie libi de (Coronie there is life)’ (lll); Roddney Tjon Poen Gie combines signs from his Afro-Chinese heritage with Coronian architecture in ‘Balkon (Balcony)’, Close to the ocean’ ‘refers to the geographic position of Coronie; The title of the large painting by George Struikelblok, is a call to join hands (in Coronie): ‘Yepi makandra’ (help each other); In paint and photo collage Fineke van der Veen shows her fascination for the slow demise of the houses; Soeki Irodikromo was inspired by the typical street scenes in Coronie and Sri Irodikromo indulges her sense of color on canvas in a dreamy atmospheric impression.
Another segment of the exhibition, put together by Dick ter Steege and Fineke van der Veen, is connected to the book and shows the reality of Coronie. Panels with historical building information show the results of an investigation into the most characteristic buildings of Coronie. Photographs of Coronians and phenomenon’s such as the open air museum of uncle Tjon and the ruins of the coconut factory – once upon a time the pride of Coronie. A connection between art and reality is achieved by the installation: Mary’s Hope – Burnside - Mary’s Hope (l, ll, lll), ‘an attempt to pass on an experience’ (video, photo course and photo series).
Note for the editors:
The exhibition De verleiding van Coronie/2 in De Haagse Kunstkring, is open from February 12th until March 1st.
The exhibitions De verleiding van Coronie/1 and 2, and book Dromers, doemdenkers en doorzetters; verhalen van mensen en gebouwen in Coronie are part of the Multi-disciplinary project Coronie!, executed in 2009 and 2011 by building historian Dick ter Steege (NL), publicist Chandra van Binnendijk (SR) and publicist/visual artist Fineke van der Veen. Educational activities such as poetry- and drawing workshops for schoolchildren in Coronie and the publication ‘Logeren in Coronie (Staying over in Coronie), written by Cynthia McLeod, were also part of the project.
Dromers, doemdenkers en doorzetters; verhalen van mensen en gebouwen in Coronie, was presented in November 2010 in Paramaribo and Coronie, Suriname. Simultaneously showing in the Surinaams Museum/Fort Zeelandia in Paramaribo, was the exhibition De Verleiding van Coronie/1 while fifteen Surinamese visual artists displayed their perception of Coronie in the art exhibition Vredig, Vrij en Vriendelijk in the exhibition venue De Hal (Readytex Art Gallery).
The project Coronie! has been made possible with financing from the Dutch Embassy in Paramaribo and Stichting De Zaaier in Utrecht.
For more information: Fineke van der Veen (070-3549818 / 0612239331
Team Readytex Art Gallery