Monument for transition

Tembe Art Studio, Moengo (SU)

Monument For Transition 2011, wood, 320 x 250 x 1500 cm

In 2011 I was invited by Mondriaan Foundation and Tembe Art Studio to do a three month residency in Moengo. My plan was to build a large sculpture in public space, together with anyone who would be interested in helping. By letting the people of Moengo decide about important sculptural elements, such as the subject of the sculpture, its shape, its story and its height, the sculpture was adopted and gained an important position in the village.

On this weblog you can find the full story on how the sculpture was build:

With its 15 metres Monument for Transition is the highest sculpture of Surinam.

Monument For Transition is a monument for the constant changes that the people of Moengo are subject to. It’s as well a monument for changes in the past as for changes that are happening on this very moment. It’s a monument for small changes, that are hardly noticable, and huge changes with great concequenses. It’s a monument for nature, that rapidly changes all vacant objects and spaces into jungle by covering it with moss, bushes and tropical flowers. It’s a monument for Toyota, that changed the streetscape drastically by filling up the streets with their cars. And it’s a monument for the Chinese that came to Surinam and took over almost all of the supermarkets. It’s a monument for the enormous amount of schoolchildren that grow up in Moengo and are developping their talents and eventually might use these talents to make even more transitions to the town. But it’s also a monument for the enormous transition that took place after the civil war. A transition that is still having it’s effect on the people. And at last there are the transitions that are still to come. What transition will the current government bring? And what transition will take place after Suralco, the mining company where many Moengonese are employed, leaves the city?


We decided to use an existing icon that stands for a certain kind of transition. One of the icons that changed Western society a great lot, is the Walt Disney cartoon Mickey Mouse. Therefor the people of Moengo and the children from the surrounding villages together rebuild the Mickey Mouse cartoon, but this time using techniques, materials and woodcarving elements from and about their own culture.

A first sketch of Monument for Transition.

On a few houses in Moengo you could already find the depiction of the cartoon character Mickey Mouse.

David Linga, one of the best woodcarvers of Surinam.

The Inland Creoles.

The Inland Creole wear a Pangi. They live in Moengo right now.

The Javanese.

The Javanese wear a Tai Koto. They were the plantation workers.

The Indians. 

The Indians wear a Kamisa. They were the first to live in Surinam.

The Americans.

The Americans wear a tie and a jacket. They were the first to discover the bauxiet in Moengo.

Children from the village of Dantapu carved their own wood pieces to connect to the sculpture.

Many people somehow got involved into the project. Ras2, a very gifted assistant, woodcarver and musician took helped me out the full period of time. The children from the surrounding villages Ofia Olo, Dantapu and Ricanau Mofo have created woodcarvings that have been added to the back of Mickey's legs. And visual artist David Linga came up with the idea to change Mickeys legs into two enormous totem poles, that depicts the history of the Moengonese habitants.

David Linga is one of the best woodcarvers of Surinam. Two tree trunks, both with a length of 12,5 meter will be chainsaw modelled. Together they depict the habitants of Moengo through the years.

Habitants of Moengo, posing at their newly build landmark.

This project was made possible with the help of Mondriaan Fund.