Maarten Tromp
NETHERLANDS
Maarten Tromp (NL, 1980) graduated at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Colonial history and surveillance are two recurring themes in his work, while reflecting on his own position as a photographer and filmmaker. Tromp’s photographic essay made in the streets of Amsterdam East was published as the book ‘The neighbour, his ex and the owner of the launderette’ (2008). His photographs and short films were exhibited at FOTODOK and Fotofestival Naarden, in the Cobra Museum of Modern Art, the Dutch National Portrait Gallery, World Trade Center Amsterdam and Museum Hilversum.
Recollections of Black Pete
Every year in November the people in the Netherlands get ready for one of their most important traditional holidays called ‘Sinterklaas’, on the 5th of December. In contrast to Saint Nicholas celebrations in Germany and other European countries, the saint is accompanied by the mythic figure ‘Zwarte Piet’ (Black Pete), his silly, clownish dark-skinned assistant. In the three weeks preceding Sinterklaas, thousands of Dutch dress up and play Black Pete, with blackened faces, ruby red lips and a wig of frizzy black hair. He is omnipresent in the public sphere: in shops, on the streets, in schools and on television. Protest against this tradition and a nation-wide public debate have reached a boiling point in the past years, dividing society into two camps. One side wants to change the look of the figure of Black Pete because of the racist stereotype and the references to colonial times and slavery. Others want to stick with the figure as it is, in order to keep the tradition unchanged in a globalized, changing world. They say that Black Pete doesn’t depict racism since they themselves never intended it in that way. Although opinions are shifting because of the debate, there is still a huge gap in society. Collective memory The Netherlands still has underexposed and unresolved pages of a colonial history withoppression and major slave trading. Many Dutch citizens have roots in the former colonies. The colonial past is vivid to them. Meanwhile, other Dutch people are struggling to hold on to the tradition. The annual celebration of Sinterklaas enables them to re-experience their own childhood and pass their memories on to their children, just as their parents passed them on to them. It’s obvious that the figure of Black Pete will change, like all traditions change through time. I documented the past in order to move forward as society and create new memories together. All photographs were made between 2015 and 2017. The portraits were shot just before or after Black Pete visited children at a school, day- care or a private home.

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.