Interview w/ Remy Jungerman (visual artist)

1. On the Village of Ships in the Rainforest

I was born in Moengo
My dad was working (at) Suralco,
The aluminium company mining bauxite,
So I grew in a (village ... actually in the midst of the rainforest,
(Where) a lot of people were of different backgrounds
(So) as a kid,
I was always kind of taken by (the) sort of cultural thing
(that was happening);
That was happening around us
So the river was important.

As a young boy
I was always interested in the other culture
We had (that) opportunity in Moengo,
Because the aluminium company ships would come
These ships were coming from Colombia,
The United States
So the people we had;
(That) I kind of (knew),
(Were) actually already international.

But at that time I did not notice
How important
… how important that would be
for my research as a grown up man,
(And) looking back at things,
Maybe (the) aesthetics that (have) influenced my life;
Influenced my way of looking.

So I grew up
as this boy in a family of seven kids,
Who was actually always curious;
(Curious) about what was going on outside
We were actually making everything,
You were
Surrounded by the rainforest.

2. On Winti in Village Practice and in Art Practice

Winti was forbidden to practice in public,
It was something (covert)
I call it like a backyard religion,
We were practicing it in the backyard
(As then),
Most black people were practicing Winti
Nobody knew (about the) other
(Whether) they were practicing Winti
I think people would notice it, but (were) not speaking (of it)
They were respecting it,
But not speaking about (it)

Mom was actually very much into Winti practice
So yes,
I grew up with a very strong Winti connection
Mom knew ... 
She knew quite (a lot about) herbal medicine
She was (therefore) kind of known,
But at the same time a very simple loving woman
(Winti) was part of your system
Spiritually I was there.

I try to get inspired from a certain knowledge;
A certain aesthetic,
Using the materials of Winti,
Creating work that (has) the ability to tell stories;
That (has) the ability to get people into different stories;
Into different narratives,
Other than only a West European narrative
I think it's (Winti) there
It's the way I kind of communicate with myself,
In my space.

Scratching ... the top surface of the clay on the textile,
By carving the grid lines over again
I think that is a ritualistic practice
What I (often) say (is),
If the studio practice is the ritual,
Then the art piece is actually the residue of that ritual.

And in there,
Getting Winti happens
… you get Winti
You get into a transcendental situation
when the context is created for that situation
If I go into a ritual,
I will have my Kabra Tafra,
My special set table of things I like
There will be drums
It's a special moment
It's an extraordinary moment
....and so that's Winti.

3. On the signification of the Toad and the River

In my childhood,
The toad was actually a very special animal
(It was said of) the 'Hindustanis' doing great business,
That they were ‘obeying’ snakes or toads
(A) story (that) was all over the place;
All the time
The whole idea of the toad,
(It referenced this) narrative of my youth
If I have (a) chance to create a monument,
I would like to create that monument,
(That monument) of the Forest God that is returned
The Forest God is symbolised by these twenty-one toads.

Man, the river was the main source 
The river was the main thing you know
All the time you are at the river  
The river was the connection to the other side; 
The other side of the river,
We've been fishing in the river,
I am a Cottica child
That's the importance of the river
Even though I am not from the Ndyuka tribe,
(The river) is the close connection I have with this tribe; 
Of being part of this space.

The river is connected to the water pantheon
The ritual connected to the river;
It is very much connected to the native Surinamese people
(For) a ritual that is (connected) to water,
The red white will play an important role
The colours red white are connected to the (indigenous) peoples

I think that the river is the main inspiration
If I am in Moengo,
I will just go and sit there for hours;
Just sit there and watch the river;
Watch the tide changing.

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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