Bonne Maman

Renée Koldewijn | Bonne Maman | installation | 2016

Text Iris Dik, curator KoCo Airways, The Base Gallery, Schiphol 2016

The three groups: The Living, The Living Dead, and the Unborn are interconnected in Ubuntu, the African philosophy of community awareness and ancestor worship. With many stacked pots ‘Bonne Maman’ Koldewijn refers to Mama Sranang, generations of West-African women, who were enslaved by Europeans for three ages. Some pots contain cowries, others sugar. The fabrics on top of the covers make you think of the scarfs (angisa) women used to dress in those days.

The installation looks attractive and full of color, but contents a more meaningful level: Africans were exchanged for shells and transported to Suriname to work at the sugar plantations or as a house slave. By the folding of their scarf (angisa) women sent each other secret messages that the planter could not understand. Each year, the 1st of July in Amsterdam, women show their angisa to commemorate the ancestors.