Exhibition “Surinamese Wedding Portraits”

The traveling exhibition “Surinamese Wedding Portraits” will be on view from June 24 until September 7, 2022, at FOAM (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, located at Keizersgracht 609, 1017 DS Amsterdam). This exhibition was created in collaboration with guest curator Lucia Nankoe.

The exhibition Surinamese Wedding Portraits is a collection of memorable photographs. The portraits come from the period from 1846 to 1954, when Suriname was still a Dutch colony. Together they cover almost a century of Surinamese history. The family photos and stories show the extent to which Surinamese people, under Dutch administration, migrated to all corners of the world. They often found their partner elsewhere, in places like Aruba, Curaçao or Bonaire, in the former Dutch East Indies, the Netherlands or North America. The strength of this collection of personal photos, therefore, lies in the many different connections that stretched all over the world.

The exhibition consists of more than one hundred wedding photos and many family histories. Together they tell the story of countless personal bonds that cross borders, ethnicity or religion. This did not always go down smoothly, yet most lovers followed the path of their hearts and love generally triumphed over the spirit of the times.

The family stories are often connected with important themes that characterize the colonial history of Suriname: slavery, contract labour, immigration and emigration, conflict and struggle. But the stories also talk about personal bonds, diversity and unity. For that reason, the photographs are not only of great significance to the people whose family histories were immortalised, but they also show a shared (inter)national history.

The idea to bring these extraordinary portraits together originated with Lucia Nankoe, guest curator of this exhibition, in 2014. Together with her team she spoke with descendants of bridal couples with at least one ancestor of Surinamese descent. The resulting collection of portraits has continued to grow steadily since the publication of a book and a travelling exhibition in 2019. The project now consists of more than 135 photos and stories.

This exhibition was created in collaboration with guest curator Lucia Nankoe. FOAM also thanks José Komen, Gerard Sweep and Astrid Waltmans for their support.

Museum FOAM Keizersgracht 609, 1017 DS Amsterdam, Open daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The book, Trouwportretten. Surinaamse Voorouders in Beeld. Album 1846-1950, was published by Uitgeverij In de Knipscheer in 2019. The follow up to the publication will be published in June this year: Photo Stories from the Surinamese Past 1868-1950 (Fotovertellingen uit het Surinaamse verleden 1868-1950). The book is available in Dutch and for sale in the FOAM museum shop.

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