Nicola lo Calzo

Obia. Maroons of the Guianas, from antislavery struggles to mass society

About the project
Tablet Amoida & Glenn carry the oracle (the bottom of an old canoe)
The Gaama’s spirit directs where they go
Suriname, 2014
Paramaribo. Asindoopo, Suriname
Samantha Main, a Saamaka student from Paramaribo.
Asindoopo, Suriname, 2014.
Asindoopo village, Saamaka territory, Suriname, 2014.
Onis works as assistant to his cousin Seké, a Ndyuka tourist guide on the Maroni River
French Guiana, 2014.
Speech by Albert Aboikoni, who served as interim Gaama, in front of government officials, on the burial vigil (Booko-de).
Asindoopo, Suriname, 2014.
Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, against the Revolted
Negroes of Suriname., de/by John Gabriel Stedman, 1796 / Collection of Robert N. Essick. ˝ 2015 William Blake Archive.
A Saamaka boy with a parrot, participant in the Gaama’s funeral in Asindoopo, Suriname, 2014.
Headless, embalmed parrot. Alexandre Franconie departmental Museum, Cayenne, French Guiana, 2014.
Papakente, a Ndyuka gold miner, shows off his rings.
Chinese market in front of Grand Santi, Surinamen 2014.
On a village canoe, Aboikoni family members dance.
As a part of the ritual, the canoe circles around and around several times in order to represent the hesitations of the deceased’s soul.
Asindoopo,Suriname, 2014.
Stephano, a young Ndyuka on the bank of Maroni river in village of Belicampo, French Guiana, 2014.
A slave, in bronze, anonymous, from the 19th century.
Alexandre Franconie departmental Museum, Cayenne,
French Guiana, 2014.
Young Maroons playing in the public swimming pool of Saint-Laurent du Maroni. Place de la République, French Guiana, 2014.
Adrien Ajintoena in trance during the Komanti ceremony in Charvein, French Guiana 2014.
Milky Way from Belicampo.
Maroni River, French Guiana, 2014.
Carolina Navas
They Are Watching Us
Carolina Navas

They Are Watching Us

About the project
The Citadel
El Wey

Nicola Lo Calzo, Italy
Suriname – French Guiana

Despite having played a fundamental role in the anti-slavery struggle and identity construction of the African diaspora in the Americas, marronage is still poorly understood.

Marronage created communities that wrested themselves free of slavery and proclaimed their sovereignty in the New World. These communities of runaway slaves were found throughout the Americas, from Louisiana to Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, Brazil and the Guianas. Some of the descendants of these societies continue to exist today. They are the gatekeepers of a little known self-emancipation narrative. This is the story of the Maroons of the Guianas, also known as Businenge or Bushinengue.

The Obia photographic project ―undertaken in the historical Maroon territories of Saamaka and Maroni, in both Suriname and French Guiana (1)― seeks to examine the links between the exceptional magical-religious legacy of Maroon people and the new challenges that stem from modernity: the ongoing acculturation among new generations and the counterweight produced by deculturation. Additionally, Obia calls for a rethink of the connections between historical marronage and challenges pertaining to contemporary immigration and, not least, between the memories of the colonial past and accommodations with the postcolonial present.

Nicola Lo Calzo

(b. 1979) Turin, Italy/ Paris, France

Nicola Lo Calzo has focused his photographic practice and research on issues of identity, colonialism, and inter-sectionality. His images show how minority groups interact with their environment and devise strategies of survival and resistance. Over the past seven years, Lo Calzo has been engaged in an ambitious research project, entitled The Cham, about memories of the slave trade and slavery, which includes various series of photographs taken in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Under the Kehrer Verlag imprint, he has published Regla (2017), Obia (2015), and Inside Niger (2012). He is a contributor to Le Monde, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

1. This region, known now as the town of Saint-Laurent-du-Maronio, is located on the Maroni River, between French Guiana and Surinam.

Carolina Navas, Colombia

I have been interested in portraying the young people who live in Tumaco ―a rural area on the Colombian Pacific coast― and yet are influenced by the eclecticism of the globalized world. These young people’s existence serves as a metaphor for adversity, as does the geography they inhabit, where marginalization coexists with beauty and hope.

These pictures were taken in one of the regions with the greatest prevalence of coca plantations in Colombia. It is also an important transportation hub for cocaine to other parts of the world. The town’s geographical location, as well as its residents’ low incomes, their lack of access to education, and a deficient healthcare system are factors that have led to the rise of armed guerrilla groups, violence, and drug-trafficking, whose victims are most often young men. The town is currently a refuge for dissident guerrilla groups that used to form part of the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

They Are Watching Us is a series that explores the identity and context of teenagers who survive in the unpredictable context of one of the regions most affected by armed conflict. They are young dancers and musicians who challenge with dignity what would seem to be their fate: being drafted into the war or forced to join criminal gangs, owing to the widespread belief that they have no other opportunities in life.

Carolina Navas

(b. 1978) Cali, Colombia

Portraiture is the central theme in the work of Carolina Navas, which highlights the singularity of human faces, as well as the objects and clothing that surround the body. Navas has directed documentary series for Colombian public television and produced still photographs for the feature films Los Hongos (2014), La Sirga (2012), and Calicalabozo (1997). Her series of photographs Nos miran (They Are Watching Us) was awarded a stimulus grant for the visual arts by the city of Cali in 2017. She is the author of Tumaco (2018), a volume in the Pewen Cuadernos Fotografía collection published by MUGA. In 2018 she received a Gamleby Photo Grant to complete an artist’s residency in Sweden and premiered Fullhachede, her first feature-length documentary, which she directed and photographed in collaboration with Catalina Torres.