Attention for a double connotation of nature

TEXT Miguel E. Keerveld, Curator-in-Residence for the project ALAKONDRE: A space in time in collaboration with Readytex Art Gallery (RAG).

Sri Irodikromo gave form, content, and structure to the manifestation Lost in Nature. From August 4 until September 3, 2022, this exhibition was on display at Readytex Art Gallery (RAG). In the role of curator, Irodikromo addressed a broad and deep experience of nature. Lost in Nature showed me a double connotation: culture as the natural essence of the technological animal called human and the whole of which this beast is a tiny part. By reflecting on nature and culture, the exhibition took the bull by the horns.


More complicated

According to philosopher Pieter Lemmens (2016), everything is getting more complicated. He sees techno-evolution as the cause of shifting the emphasis of things, making both humans and the earth lose their control. For him, this apocalyptic appearance makes the boundary between nature and culture disappear. But I do not consider this phenomenon of reconciliation between nature and culture itself apocalyptic, which is why I think Lost in Nature is a special way in which attention is drawn to looking differently. In this manifestation, Sri Irodikromo works together with a varied group of artists as a curator and an artist to stage a diversity of artworks. The artists are inspired by the inexhaustible source and meaning of nature, which means that Lost in Nature offers different interpretations of nature. I especially see the complex relationship between technology and biology.

What does the title Lost in Nature evoke in me? I imagine a capacity to be as natural as possible, uninhibited and without judgment. Not only does the curatorial setup evoke these associations in me, but also works of art by the ‘Local Master’ Peter Holman and others reinforce the feeling of being as-natural-as-possible-with-myself. The other artists are Clerence Ranoesetiko, Coco DuivenvoordeDhiradj RamsamoedjJohn Lie A FoKenneth FlijdersLeonnie van EertMarianne HiralalMiguel KeerveldRoddney Tjon Poen GieShaundell HortonSri Irodikromo and Steven Towirjo.. All translate the entanglement of nature and culture very differently. For example, human traces in nature receive attention in this exhibition and also traces of nature in mankind. For Readytex Art Gallery (RAG), Lost in Nature shows the diversity of Surinamese art using materials ranging from “natural pigments to wood, branches and lianas, from ceramics to wastepaper and plastic, and also parts of old wooden houses” (RAG, 2022).


Life, starts with love
On the way up,
It builds with richness and fullness

Then, in the end, we pass on
This richness and life will make her
Entrance, again

Marianne Hiralal
August 4, 2022

Left: art by Clerence Ranoesetiko, above: ‘Seni lan manungsa’, waste wood (pressed wood) with bird cage, 28x50x17cm, 2022, below: ‘Kayu lawas’, pyrography on waste wood, 20x75x3cm, 2022, right: Sri Irodikromo, ‘Prikken’, mixed media, painting, 150x154cm, 2018 / PHOTO Courtesy Readytex Art Gallery (RAG), 2022

The Anthropocene

The period in which nature no longer determines for the earth but humans do, is called Anthropocene. Wikipedia states that ‘Anthropocene‘ is the name proposed for the current age of the earth; the era in which its climate and atmosphere are affected by culture, i.e., human intervention. According to some, God has disconnected himself from life on earth, so that now man must take on the role of God. It seems that this disconnection also inspires Sri Irodikromo to explore. Strangely enough, in her exploration with Lost in Nature I see a manifestation of magic as a primal force in man. I also see a contribution to the debate about our consumption of the earth reflected in her involvement as a curator .

Whether the Anthropocene is consciously or unconsciously a focus of Lost in Nature, I do not know. I do think that Irodikromo has curated an atmosphere that surpasses the Holocene epoch. According to science, Holocene begins with agricultural activities. Science also establishes: Anthropocene begins with the industrial revolution. However, my gut tells me that the Anthropocene begins at another moment. Or rather, my idea of ​​the beginning of the industrial revolution is not in England around the 18th century. For me, the industrial revolution starts at the zero point of capitalism, which begins with the establishment of the Dutch West India Company (Dalio, 2022). Here, in my view, lies a deeper source of challenges in the 21st century. Besides urbanization, as an alternative reason for the transformation of the earth, I think the 17th century is a defining moment. From then on, the virus human behaves in such a way that the earth becomes ill.

Completely disconnected

For Friedrich Nietzsche, too, God has completely disconnected himself from earthly life. According to his findings, the divine task of man is: “stay true to the earth” (Manschot, 2020). In the words of Lemmens (2016), this is nothing more than taking responsibility for the earth, which has become man’s new goal. How should man pursue this goal? By which means? And… Do people sufficiently understand how to bear the responsibility for the earth? To be faithful to the earth, man must first heal itself, I think. Is reflecting on the collective trauma caused by capitalism perhaps a first step? According to Lemmens (2016), capitalism is still the destructive nature of man with the greatest impact on the earth; how much the earth has ever been mightier than man. Then culture was able to protect us from nature. However, now it seems that we must protect nature against culture.

I see the idea that nature is no longer in control as a modern way of thinking. Because my thinking is rooted in alakondre-fasi, it does not fit the modern character of choosing one or the other. So, I problematize this thought that nature does not have control. I prefer to see possibilities, which is known in Suriname as the so-called hussle mentality. Therefore, I note that culture and nature go hand in hand. In my view, such a perspective gives humanity the potential to realize the same process as culture-nature cooperation in which our destructive nature transforms into constructive culture.

‘Synthesis’, 2022

Synthesis arises from the coming together of thesis and antithesis; or statement and contradiction. In the installation ‘Synthesis’, artists bring together organic and synthetic material. This work consists of a number of series; namely: the papers pressed by the artist Coco Duivenvoorde entitled ‘Mama Fu Doti’, on which Miguel Keerveld worked with printing and painting techniques; paintings ‘Who Am I’, painted in blue; and canvases made with various organic materials and pigments experimented with blue.

Critical reflection

Understanding the human-earth complexity requires critical reflection. In addition to reflecting on the impact of humans on the ecological structure of the earth, I find it important to also analyze the desire or the essence of things in the hope of better understanding relationships and resulting consequences. In this way of listening, I hear the tone of the exhibition Lost in Nature, in which both natural and unnatural/synthetic materials speak (RAG, 2022). It is clear to me that in Suriname too, we consider our ecological footprint on nature, which seems to be the most important debate of the 21st century. For me, Lost in Nature therefore emphasizes the culture-nature correlation and stages the following: reflecting on nature by focusing primarily on traces of human actions, which end up in nature as remnants. Peter Holman also seems to be fascinated by this. With his critical tone, he clearly sings a little higher. For example, he makes works of art from waste material that literally show how culture colonizes nature. But isn’t Holman just demonstrating a dual nature of technology here?

Technology is simultaneously  a medicine and a poison (Lemmens, 2016), why I speak of alakondre-fasi. I would like to add that biology too is inseparable from this ambiguity, which is embedded in everything as natural desire. Thus, it is claimed that man is nothing but that ambiguity, or we are the marriage between technology and biology. Therefore, our most natural properties (such as speech) are extraordinary parts of the technical property of nature. For this reason, I refuse to assume that the structure of nature (and the originality of man and earth) can be lost. In my experience, everything transforms into other sensations while retaining originality or essence. A source is always a source, right? Although everything that comes from a source regularly undergoes various transformations. I do not think that nature is no longer in charge of the earth because of human activity.

How I formulate my harvest from Lost in Nature: there is potential in our destructive power. Lemmens (2016) believes that we should of course make something new of the earth. Therefore, it is the task of man to approach the ecological problem by being otherwise technical. As an artist, Sri Irodikromo has given an impetus which she has continued as a curator. Visitors have been taken to what man is part of and what is part of man. That is why I still bow deeply to what reveals itself in dialogue with her work.





This publication was made possible in part by a grant from the Dr. Silvia W. de Groot Fund.

Read more about the Dr. Silvia W. de Groot Fund here (only in Dutch).

Read more about Dr. Silvia W. de Groot here (only in Dutch).

TEXT Miguel E. Keerveld 

Miguel E. Keerveld (Suriname, 1982) works in conjunction with the brand EdKe and the performance persona Tumpi Flow. Educated in civil technical engineering, ‘he’ operates with focus on visual language and creative writing. As a hybrid-intuitive concept, ‘she’ performs political interventions related to social practice. As researcher ‘it’ is focused on activating performative politics and manifesting rituals, both related to creative counseling and civic engineering of a cyborg feminist project.


PHOTOS Courtesy Readytex Art Gallery (RAG)


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