Artist Suzanne Bernhardt and I met in early 2019 in Moengo, where we were both working on different art projects. We shared an interest in podosiri (also known as açaí), a fruit theretofore unknown to us. This shared interest led us to different places, times, and philosophies, associated with this fruit.
Upon returning to The Netherlands, we transformed our observations into art. At the Amsterdam Graphic Atelier, I researched how to create ink from podosiri, and I experimented with analogue printing methods. Suzanne brought together river clay from Suriname and the Netherlands to create ceramic bowls.
The work we made about and with podosiri resulted in an exhibition, titled The Struggle is Real.
After a successful exhibition in Amsterdam, Suzanne and I returned to the country where the roots of our shared work lie: Suriname! The exhibition The Struggle is Real took place between January 10th and 17th at Maisonadia in Paramaribo.
From an intense production process in the interior of Suriname, to a quick ‘health mix’ in Amsterdam; The Struggle is Real explored the contrasts between two cultures, united in their love for this super fruit. The exhibition in Maisonadia consisted of riso prints, etches, ceramics, video pieces, and photography. The work approached podosiri from various perspectives: historical and topographical, but also economical, cultural, biological, and spiritual.
Suzanne and I opened the exhibition with a presentation, during which snacks containing podosiri were served in the bowls Suzanne made.
There was also a performance by Surinamese artist Kenny van Genderen, featuring melting ice and podosiri cocktails. The performance expressed the important link between ice and podosiri, two elements that go hand in hand in preserving the berries, and the loss in translation that occurs when the West tries to turn the traditional dish into something else.