The first exhibition for The Struggle is Real took place at Corridor Project Space, in Amsterdam, in November 2019, in collaboration with artist Suzanne Bernhardt. The exhibition was comprised of photo etchings, ceramics, videos, collages, and an installation, which showed the societal, economic, and sociological aspects of eating podosiri.
After Suzanne and I returned from Suriname, we decided to research the use of podosiri in the Netherlands. After a long search, we found hip health bowls that extolled the health benefits of their mix of podosiri, dairy, fruit, nuts, and coconut shavings. However, the podosiri content in the bowls was so low that people were mostly paying for an idea; the idea that they were eating podosiri (and thus something very healthy).
In Paramaribo, podosiri is seen as country food; it’s cheap, and looked down on a bit. In eastern Suriname, the health benefits of podosiri are considered a given.
I collected ten health food books in thrift stores, and used them as a basis for an edition about our project, a collage. I pasted photos of the podosiri production process onto individual pages of the thrift store books , and wrote bits of wisdom on them concerning the health benefits of podosiri, which I had learned online. The result was a collage book.
Suzanne looked into the relationship between food vloggers and podosiri, and created a video compilation. She then created a ceramic ‘health bowl’, using clay from Suriname and The Netherlands.
Using the Naturalis online archive, Suzanne and I investigated the history of podosiri. We selected several images from the archive, which Suzanne turned into posters that react to different colors of light. The changes in light were used as a through line during the exhibition’s opening night.
I also investigated the value that the açaí palm holds for people in the Suriname interior. I translated this search into a poem and a video piece.
Tour and dinner
During the exhibition, visitors were guided through the various layers and traditions associated with this berry. The audience was given an extensive tour, as well as a four-course meal featuring dishes incorporating podosiri, which had been specially prepared, respectively, by creative chefs ‘Axe & Porrige’ and chef Paul Lisse.