Look back // JUNE 6 '24 // Opening Exhibition Laila Cohen & Phaedra Haringsma

On June 6, we opened the exhibition Entwined Roots, Unbroken Spirits by photographer Laila Cohen and journalist Phaedra Haringsma in our Eetlokaal! The exhibition can be admired on our walls throughout the month of June. Do not miss it!

In this joint project, photographer Laila Cohen and journalist Phaedra Haringsma looked for stories about frizzy hair. Phaedra wrote a personal essay for De Correspondent in which she explains how she learned to cherish her afro. In the essay she reflects on themes such as internalized racism, femininity and Western beauty ideals. Laila photographed Phaedra and her nephew Fidall while their hair is being braided.

These braids – now often extended with synthetic hair – are part of a centuries-long tradition. In Suriname, her mother's native country, Phaedra photographed the descendants of Ma Pansa, an enslaved woman who fled the plantation and survived in the forest by braiding rice seeds in her hair. Only when there was enough rice to share with others did Ma Pansa harvest the rice and feed an entire community of free black people.

The story of Ma Pansa is part of the oral history of the Saamaka, descendants of those who escaped from the Surinamese plantations. They freed others from the plantations and waged wars against the Dutch colonial regime. They claimed their freedom as early as 1762 and for a long time they escaped the capitalist system, built on slavery and exploitation.

Photos by: Elmer Driessen

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