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Capturing the Caribbean island of Curaçao in all its quiet beauty

Photographer Gilleam Trapenberg went back to his native island to document a place beyond holiday resorts, pink-hued skies and white sandy beaches. 

In the Southern part of the vast Caribbean Sea, just off the coast of Venezuela, lies a small island group not as widely known as its neighbours. It’s the ABC-islands – made up of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao – and each tops the other one in terms of its splendour. From sandy white beaches and waving palm trees, to flamingoes, beach resorts and coral reefs – at first glance all three islands fall nothing short of Arcadia. Upon closer examination, however, cracks start to appear. Beyond those touristy waterfronts, houses have fallen into disrepair, nondescript real estate has started to encroach, and an infrastructure of a once flourishing industry is laying bare and unused.

Bòrò, 2021 © Gilleam Trapenberg, Right: Soto, 2021 © Gilleam Trapenberg

Just like many islands in the region, this group was once a strategic transit port for the trans-Atlantic slave trade. As a result, it has always been a crossroad of influences, be that from enslaved Africans, indigenous communities or colonial powers – leaving deeply entrenched cultural, political and economic traces to this day.

Photographer Gilleam Trapenberg (1991) was born and raised in Curaçao. Driven by a lack of educational opportunities, at age 19, he decided to come to the Netherlands to study photography at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. It’s something many youngsters on the island do: crossing the Atlantic to pursue a higher education in the Netherlands – the island’s former coloniser – with whom it has strong ties to this day. Once arrived, a large portion of the Caribbean students find themselves facing culture shock and a feeling of displacement.

Do continue on this I-D.vice website, July 22, 2021; also turn to this page on the FOAM-website about the exhibition; Gilleam Trapenberg – Unbé t’aweró [weldra zal het later zijn] Winnaar Florentine Riem Vis Stipendium 2020; in Foam, Amsterdam; 16 juli – 12 september 2021.

on 24.07.2021 at 19:04
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