korjaal-ing space was created by Sean Leonard, the 2020 awardee of the Tilting Axis/ Het Nieuwe Instituut Research Fellowship. Sean intends to use this website as the space for presenting his research journey digitally and therefore will function simultaneously as a journal, an archive and a forum for engaging with his research.

The image which introduces the website is a hand drawn map of the rivers of Suriname overlaid on a photograph of a korjaal docked on the bank of the Marowijne river (the border between Suriname and French Guiana); a representation of the location this research exercise and its occupation of that zone between environments as experienced and abstract signification of those experiences.

About Research

In responding to a curiosity around the notion of architecture as register, the research exercise sites this curiosity in the exploration of the culture of making and building in, around and in association with water.

It chooses the Ndyuka Maroons of Suriname and their relationship with the Tapanahoni River, as the starting point of the research and the site of focus for the investigation of a particular culture of environment shaping.

The research looks to being structured through three phases:

  1. Assimilation through field research, of the relationship between the river locale of Ndyuka Maroons (as a resource and an environment), and their specific culture of making and shaping their built ecology.

  2. Devising an architectural proposition as both a record and a reading of the field research, but where the Dutch culture of land/water management (the Dutch Polder), is appropriated as the backdrop or counter-frame for this architectural proposition.

  3. Re-articulation of a component, insight or facet of that architectural proposition for testing/ relocation in Suriname; intended as a possible contribution to the sustainability and evolution of Suriname's Maroon culture.

About Sean Leonard

Sean is a practising architect who trained in London and works and lives in Trinidad and Tobago. He is one of the founding directors of the architecture practice co-rd Limited, and has held executive positions in the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects and the Federation of Caribbean Associations of Architects.

In parallel and related to his formal practice of architecture, is his active interest in Carnival ‘mas' production and set design. The ephemeral nature of the products from both these creative activities and their inherent reliance on abstraction and human interface (wearer/performer) for their embodied presence, continue to intrigue Sean. For fifteen years he designed and produced children’s Carnival bands and from early in his career, has consistently designed stage sets for numerous music and theatre productions, for which he has been recognised locally.

Sean is also one of the founding directors of Alice Yard (2006), a contemporary art space located in Port-of-Spain, which hosts and facilitates an ongoing programme of artists and artists’ projects respectively, where networking, collaboration, improvisation and play are key tenets in its operation.

With the support of his practice and Alice Yard, Sean has been engaged in an ongoing exercise of conducting and compiling an audio archive of interviews of key selective professionals and players of the generation before him , who were critical in shaping the construction of Trinidad and Tobago's built environment.

This project is part of a Fellowship supported by Tilting Axis and Het Nieuwe Instituut, in collaboration with the Amsterdam Museum, De Appel, The Black Archives and Melly.

*korjaal (pronounced kȯr-ē-al) is a dug-out or canoe.

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