A ‘Monument for Transition’: Mickey Mouse in Moengo

The Fonds voor Beeldende Kunsten, Vormgeving en Bouwkunst [Fund for Visual Arts, Design and Construction] (Fonds BKVB) invited Wouter Klein Velderman to partake in a pilot-project at the Tembe Art Studio in Moengo, Suriname. TAS is an interesting residency-project of which the Fund is trying to determine whether it is suitable to have more artists from the Netherlands participate in, in the future. With TAS Marcel Pinas initially wanted to create a place where the children from Moengo could to be guided in their creative development.

TAS has quickly matured and the projects that are initiated here have also grown a great deal. The Marowijne Art Park is the most recent example. For this project the public space of Moengo and its surroundings has been made available for contemporary art. Wouter Klein Velderman decided to construct Mickey Mouse here, done exclusively in wood. In this blog post he shares the story behind his Monument for Transition.

A vision of Mickey Mouse in Moengo / PHOTO Wouter Klein Velderman, 2011

It seems like the country of Suriname is in some sort of transition. Many of daily peculiarities that I run into here have somehow to do with this. But how the country was, and how it will become is quite unclear to me, as a visitor. What I do notice, is that there is hope for progress.

Mickey Mouse “under construction”/ PHOTO Wouter Klein Velderman, 2011

Mickey Mouse, the popular Disney character, counts as a symbol for a certain kind of progress – the progress of Western society. A progress to which I suspect that not every Surinamer is willing to conform. But even so, I choose to put down a Mickey in Moengo. At least in form, because for the most part the details will be done in a unique way by the people from Moengo and children from the surrounding villages. I’m asking inhabitants of Moengo, and the children from the villages, to think along with me about techniques, materials and to add (woodcarving) elements to the sculpture of Mickey. I also get a great deal of daily help from my very gifted assistant, woodcarver and musician Ras2. The children from the surrounding villages Ofia Olo, Dantapu and Ricanau Mofo are currently busy creating woodcarvings that will be added to the jacket of Mickey. Ultimately Mickey’s legs will be carved into two large totem poles with a chainsaw. Thus Mickey Mouse becomes a structure, completely infused with elements referring to the local culture; a customized symbol for progress. The result: Monument for Transition.

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TEXT Wouter Klein Velderman (Deventer, 1979) is a visual artist who lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In 2006 artist and art advisor Gijs Frieling had the following to say about him: “The sculptures and installations by Wouter Klein Velderman have the intuitive straightforwardness that for me reveals the true artist at work. He talks about his work in terms of what it is and how he is going to make it, never about what it should communicate.” Klein Velderman has a website and a blog.

Woodcarver David Linga explains what he did and why he did it. / MOVIE Wouter Klein Velderman, 2011

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