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Michelle Piergoelam – The Untangled Tales

Oct 4 to Jan 26, 2025

The exhibition shows photos from the ongoing project The Untangled Tales by Michelle Piergoelam (1997, Rotterdam). The project is a photo series of stories about hope and resilience and shows the ways in which oral traditions, traditions and coded language give us insight into the years of slavery and the period afterward in Suriname. It is also about how this cultural legacy transforms into new traditions.

Examples of different code languages ​​are the folded headscarves called 'angisa', stories about the spider Anansi, work songs and botany. These stories and traditions, mostly passed down from Africa to Suriname, and from generation to generation, allowed enslaved people to share their thoughts without the slave owner knowing what was meant. These are different ways of hope and resilience that have been used during and after this period. It was a way to create cultural meaning and feel empowered.

Michelle Piergoelam is a photographer who creates visual stories based on cultural myths, dreams and memories. Photos in which cultural traditions, stories and landscapes are interwoven. She consciously uses indigenous stories to emphasize their cultural importance and as testimony to underexposed culture and history.

Image: Michelle Piergoelam – songs in a strange land