pleased to meet you
One of the fringe benefits of the new function of inn-keeper is being a host. This offers you the opportunity to talk to the guests without it being perceived as pushy or needy. Getting to know our guests Esther and Steijn was a privilige. Them being a neuroscience and phyisics doctorate we had the most interesting conversations.
but who are we?
Central topic was the conditioning of everyday life. In a village like Pikin Slee our it becomes very clear that our 'normality ' is just one option of many. The tempo and attitude of the people here is tuned in to a different set of rules.
left x left = left
In the book The Master and His Emissary
a book by neuro scientist Iain McGilchrist, the poit is made that in the western culture we use the left side of the brain more then the right side. In the left side we find fucntions like language and planning. According to Mc Gilchrist this dominance leads inevitebly to left /right hemisphere inbalance: Since planning doesn't recognise improvisation as an important trade and instructions denie poetry we end up in a overplanned and overinstructed society.
false but true
Allthough Mr. McGilchrists' theory is not scientificaly proven, it does describe quite poignantly our culture. Planned and organised to the max, efficiency driven and super structured. So much so that even creativity is outsourced to specialists called artists. Not something we are supposed to use in daily life anymore. How different it is in Saraamacca culture.
I create and therefore I am...
In Saramacca culture devotional and religious objects a re not decorated. They are plain pieces of wood, a piece of cloth wrapped around it. The altars are simple square spaces with a roofed of palm leaves or tin. It is when it comes to everyday objects adornment is key. Furniture, houses, clothes and everyday objects are carefully decorated with in a strong graphic style.
The reason for all this beauty is simple: love. Making an impression on someone you like is the driving force behind the carving of stools and spoons and sewing of pangi, wraparound skirts, and banya koto's, male over the shoulder cloth. Being to make a beautifull and stylish object is a strong plus when courting. Creativity is an important asset. Not an extra.
Last year we did a cultural exchange between artists from Paramaribo and craft people from Pikin Slee. This resulted in two collaborative projects with local woodcarvers Totemboti and sewing group Fiti A Wan. The woodcarvers for the first time made a portrait in wood and the women used their traditional embroidery to make bags. Both projects were intended to develope sellable objects to enable the craftpeople to earn money.
What the people in Pikin Slee got out of the project was an instruction to make a product. What we got was the notion that it was possible not to want a product. That efficiency was not a goal or a consideration. The embroidery on the bags of the Fiti A Wan ladies took as long as it took to make them nice. Price per hour was not a thought. The men of Totomboti liked their results so much that they overpriced them hugely. We couldn't make them translate human effort didn't to market prices.
Its in the air...
Already in Atjoni, waiting for the boat to Pikin Slee, a Saramacca village up the river, we feel it in the air. Party time. Everybody comes with a big boxes & bags. Even complete furnishings are stacked on the narrow korjalen. Everybody wants to clebrate at home...
Odd and inspiring collections of luggage are waiting for transport. We try to spot the real Saramacca bag: it must be the tied together bundle on top of the plastic bags...
happy new year 2016
YAI YAI YAI YAI YAI YAIYO! this is how Saramacca wish eachother happy new year. Other than this picture suggests the end of the year is celebrated lavishly. Dancing Partiying and lots of fireworks. The period between the 31st and 6th of januari is the most festive time of the year. everything is put on hold..
power in da house
To enable all this partying money has been put together to buy barrels of gasoline. Because there are no power lines here. Electricity is produced by a big generator. Normally Paramaribo sends enough supply of gasoline for 3 hours of light a day. But the last 3 months nothing came through. So it has been dark in Pikin SLee. But not now: from dusk till dawn, power in da house. Everywhere is music, cool softdrinks and charged telephones!