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VIDEOTANK #23: DEE SITONU A WETI (STONES HAVE LAWS)

October 21 – December 11, 2021

Lonnie van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan

 

In collaboration with Tolin Alexander and with the Saamaka and Okanisi Maroon communities of Suriname.

 

Dee Sitonu A Weti (Stones Have Laws), 2018

 

Overview

Stones Have Laws (Dee Sitonu a Weti) is an immersive initiation into the life of a Maroon community in the former Dutch colony of Suriname. Combining stories of African ancestral traditions and escaped slavery with enacted contemporary rituals, the film explores how the community’s powerful ties to the land have become endangered as industries threaten to devastate the region through deforestation and mining.

The project was initiated by Dutch artists Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan and developed in collaboration with the Surinamese theater maker Tolin Erwin Alexander, himself Okanisi Maroon. The three of them closely involved the Maroon community in the development of the script, which was written using an experimental process of collective scripting. Members of the community perform the scenes in front of the camera while crickets, birds, trees, the stones, and the rushing waters of the Suriname River act along. The result is a unique cinematic form that bridges filmmaking, poetry and theatre.

The following video explains the project and its collaborative context.

Artists

Artists Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan have been working together since 2002, creating film installations, sculptures, publications and collages. Often they investigate geopolitical landscapes and locations where raw materials are produced and traded. They realized two participatory film projects in collaboration with communities: Episode of the Sea (2014) with Dutch fishermen of the former island of Urk, and Stones Have Laws (2018) with Maroons in Suriname, which they co-directed with the Surinamese theater maker Tolin Alexander.

From 2010 tot 2018 they were participants of the multidisciplinary research group World of Matter. They are co-founders of VRIZA, a production house for artist films based in Amsterdam. In 2021 their book Drifting Studio Practice will be published by Hatje Cantz, which offers a practice-driven exploration of collective authorship and (non)human rights as strategies to cope with the Anthropocene.

In recent years work by Van Brummelen & De Haan has been shown at Biennial of Tmișoara (2021); Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2019); Gulbenkian, Lisbon (2017); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2015); HartWare, Dortmund (2014). Their work is in the public collections of Kunsthaus Zürich; Les Abattoirs, Toulouse; MUDAM Luxembourg; FRAC Marseille; MoMA, New York; and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Their films screened a.o. at Third Horizon Film Festival; MUBI; TIFF; IDFA; ICA’s Frames of Representation; MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight; Robert Flaherty Seminar; RIDM; Mar del Plata Film Festival; Berlinale and CPH:DOX Copenhagen.

Van Brummelen and De Haan live and work in Amsterdam.

Tolin Alexander is a writer, theater maker and performer of Surinamese Maroon descent. He specializes in cross-cultural theater and community projects and regularly trains young people.

In 1994 he founded the cultural dance group foundation Fiamba with Louise Wondel (1971- 2014) that aimed to integrate Maroon culture into the Surinamese community. Since 2003 he developed several theater pieces and performances with Forum Tolin Toli Masanga. He was one of the three participants of the Royal Tropical Institute’s Theater on the Move project in 2007, and in 2010, was one of the initiators of the Culture Caravan that traveled to villages in the border region of Ecuador and Colombia ravaged by violence.

From 2015 to 2018 Tolin Alexander was involved as a researcher and co-director in the film project Stones Have Laws. In 2019, he collaborated with the crew of the Ship of Fools sailing under the Dutch flag for the theater piece Lofzang op de Vrijheid, which was performed aboard the ship when it was docked in Paramaribo. In 2020 and 2021 he created the audiovisual installation Swart Gat in collaboration with Berith Danse and Bartel Meyburg which was presented in Plein Theater and Bijlmer Parktheater. He often works with Stichting Kibii, the art initiative set up by Marcel Pinas in Moengo, eastern Suriname.

Alexander lives and works in Paramaribo.