Between 2006 and 2009 Jacquie Maria Wessels made portraits, in Suriname and the Netherlands, of many macho Surinamese men who were obsessed with their little songbirds. The ‘caged bird’ is the leading actor in songbird contests. In this ‘most popular sport in Suriname’ men from all segments of the population come together amiably, in peaceful combat over which bird sings the best and who wins the first prize.
After the independence of Suriname in 1975 this pastime came to the Netherlands along with the Surinamers. Both in Suriname and in the Netherlands the contests are held very early on Sunday mornings: in Paramaribo on Independence Square, over to the Suriname River, and in the Netherlands on lawns in parks, especially designated for this, in Amsterdam, The Hague and other cities. Stereotypical male attributes such as clothing, cars and motorcycles play an important role in this lifestyle too, but in the photographs by Jacquie Maria Wessels the men reveal another side of themselves.
In Paramaribo Jacquie Maria Wessels also photographed city scenes, dominated by the typically Surinamese wall paintings: hand-painted advertisements containing hyper-realistic depictions of tools, soup cans, oatmeal, hot dogs and other products, along with exhortations like ‘Do your best in school’...
CITYSCAPES + BIRDMEN includes a selection of 160 photos in full colour, taken from both of these projects.
Suriname expert Michiel van Kempen provides a very personal account of his Sunday morning trip to see ‘the men with their birdcages’ on Independence Square in Paramaribo, and in passing offers a fascinating impression of Suriname’s booming capital.
CITYSCAPES + BIRDMEN has been published in two different covers, the contents of both books are identical. When ordering you will receive one of the two.
Photography Jacquie Maria Wessels - Text [Ned/Eng] Michiel van Kempen - Bonded/Hardcover - 22x24cm - 204 pages/160 full colour photo's - Voetnoot Publishers - ISBN 978-90-78068-662
Book Designed and Published by Voetnoot Publishers, Antwerp, Belgium