Roosje Verschoor

‘Bending Benchmarks’

This is Moengo, Surinam. Built by the mining company Suralco, that left the town behind after depletion of the mine in 2014. When Suralco created Moengo, its houses were modern and comfortable, but not for everyone. Moengo was highly segregated. White management staff lived in villas in ‘Stafdorp’. Forbidden for workers, living in the ‘Creole and Javanese neighbourhood’. Suralco also provided leisure spots strictly for Suralco management staff: the motel, the tennis court, the society club Casa Blanca and the Beatrix Theatre.

These abandoned places remind us of Moengo’s wealthy past. Their decay is a sign of how Suralco left, but also how with the company segregation disappeared. The photos temporarily bring the spots back to life. In Motel 1234 three boys are doing a pillow fight; portraying the struggle of making an income in a post-industrial town. Tennis balls falling on the court symbolize Moengo’s transition. The fisherman in Casa Blanca shows that the beauty left behind by Suralco is useless when it comes to providing for oneself. In the theatre, three boys having fun show us that life goes on. We are not always determined by our surroundings.

Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam, Fotografie / 2016