Wednesday 19 September 2018


“Is that you in the picture, Grandma? And is that Grandpa?”

This is a common question when youngsters see a slightly yellowed wedding photograph in an album, on a living-room wall or on a family sideboard.

Agnes Jane Harris (1924-2016) and
Henricus Leonardus (Leo) Maria Knoppel
(1917-1995). Photo courtesy of L. Nankoe.
For answers, they and other visitors can currently view a wide range of ancestral photos in ‘Trouwportretten, Surinaamse Voorouders in Beeld 1868-1950’ (Wedding Portraits, Surinamese Ancestors in Images, 1868-1950) - an exhibition that runs until Nov. 14 at the Amsterdam Public Library in the Netherlands.
Photos bring the past world to the present day and that is certainly the case with the photographs in this show, say the organizers, headed by Lucia Nankoe, the freelance curator of the exhibition. 
The pictures portray Surinamese bridal pairs, or couples in which one of the partners has a Surinamese background. The photos not only provide a striking depiction of the period in which the marriage occurred, but they highlight how much the Surinamese have travelled to all corners of the Netherlands under Dutch administration, according to the organizers.
The introduction of photography to Suriname in the second half of the 19th century enabled couples to be photographed in the first studios in Paramaribo or in their parents’ courtyards. Some marriages were also performed in the Netherlands. The oldest photograph in the exhibition dates back to 1868, and some stories are even older, the organizers add.
The exhibition is the first of its kind to focus on the cultural diversity of Surinamese society through the use of photographs and the stories of the descendants of those pictured. It also includes wedding photographs of Surinamese-Dutch, Surinamese-Indian and Surinamese-American couples.