Amor pa Otrobanda
Balanceando Con Mis Cosas
by Carlos Blaaker
Watermelons and especially watermelon discs regularly recur in Blaaker’s art in conjunction with women.
The force it takes for the woman to keep the fruits in balance is metaphorical for the effort it takes for women in the Antilles and South America to keep their heads above water. Balancing with the melons stands for balancing with things like money, work and love.
The watermelon disc may have a beautiful form, but back in the old days it has also acquired a less positive, cultural-historical connotation that needs to be explained.
As early as the nineteenth century, images of “African-Americans” with watermelons exist. These images can be found on postcards and sculptures etc. Today, these items are called “Black Memorabilia” or “Negrophilia. “The production of these stereotypical images served a special political purpose during the process of emancipation of slaves after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Initially, the watermelon became the symbol of freedom and perhaps the happiness of free slaves. However, the new achievements of the free slaves felt like a threat to the whites and soon the Negro and his watermelon became a symbol for the lazy nigger. ‘The watermelon became a cultural-historical symbol of whites to ridicule blacks for fear of their emancipation.
About Carlos Blaakerwas
Visual artist Carlos Blaakerwas born in Surinam in 1961 and has been living in Curaçao since 2009 on the Witteweg, in the heart of Otrobanda. He was brought up on art, not by his parents, but by his neighbor. His neighbor was the famous artist Nola Hatterman, who had enough of the street urchins and organized drawing lessons for the children. Nola Hatterman taught classes to the boys in the neighborhood but all these boys eventually dropped out except himself. He continued taking drawing lessons for about ten years and after high school he went to study art in Suriname and later in New York. He is inspired by artists like Richard Diebenkorn, David Park and Wayne Thiebaud.