“Ay Dios” (literally, “Oh, God”) is a characteristic lament of Antilleans. In the combination of the meaning of the words and the way in which they are spoken resides an impalpable but also specific form of resignation, the realisation of not being able to determine (or at least fully determine) one’s own fate. It is an aspect of life on the Antilles the negative sides of which can regularly be found in socio-political considerations. In novels like De droevige kampioen (‘The Sad Champion’, 1997) and Voel maar (‘Just Feel’, 2001), over the last few years the writer Jan Brokken succeeded in making the fascinating sides of the Antillean manner of looking at life understandable too, thereby sketching a more complete image. But contemporary visual material that fits with this has been almost entirely lacking.

As a part of an exchange project with the Antilles, set up by the Centre for Visual Arts in Rotterdam, photographer Diana Blok stayed in Curaçao for a number of months. Because of her South American background (Blok came to The Netherlands only at the age of 22), the culture and mentality of the Antilleans was not a curiosity to her, but much more a world with which she felt a sense of affinity. This was translated into images of a Curaçao that we really don’t know: of intimacy, intense contact with people, and of spirituality. These alternate with harder, more documentary images that visualise the social realities. The combination of these two worlds, flowing effortlessly into one another, makes this a fascinating document. Blok and Brokken became acquainted while she was in Curaçao, and decided to assemble a book together that does justice to the many hidden facets of the island.

Authors


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Diana Blok was born in 1952 in Montevideo, Uruguay and has lived in Bogota, Colombia, Mexico City en Guatemala. She studied Sociology in Mexico City from 1969-73 before moving to Amsterdam in 1974 where she devotes herself to photography. In 1998 she follows a post-graduate course at the Maurits Binger Film Instituut Amsterdam.

In 1983, together with Marlo Broekmans, she publishes her first book Invisible Forces. Other titles were to follow: Blood Ties and Other Bonds (1990), Adventures in Cross Casting (1997), Ay Dios with writer Jan Brokken (2001), Possible Paradise (2004) with author Annette de Vries and See Through Us (2009).

Her work has been shown at numerous occasions in group and solo exhibitions, her work is represented in major collections worldwide.
In 1992 she was commissioned to make portraits for the Dutch pavillion at EXPO 92, Sevilla. She was artist in residence at the Sacatar Foundation Bahia, Brasil in 2002. In 2003 the Fonds voor de Podium Kunsten invited her to document Carifesta in Suriname.

From 2006-2009 she taught photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KABK) in The Hague, complementing to the master classes and workshops taught in the Netherlands and abroad: University of Industrial Arts, Helsinki; School for Photography/University of Goteborg, Sweden; Rijksacademie, Amsterdam; Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam and Hoge School voor de Beeldende Kunsten, Arnhem.

Her projects have been supported on various occasions by the Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB) in Amsterdam as well as by the Mondriaan Foundation.

website

Platforms

© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
© Diana Blok
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001
Ay Dios at TENT, 2001

Exhibition

The exhibition at TENT, following Diana Blok’s residency in Curaçao, shows visitors the island through her lens. And it’s a fascinating new perspective on the Antilles. Blok does not observe the people of Willemstad with a particularly Western eye. She spent her childhood in Southern America, where here father worked as a diplomat, and her mother is Argentinian.

Besides photographs, the exhibition consisted of two videos that Blok produced while on Curaçao.

  • 08.09.200108.10.2001TENT, Rotterdam

  • Photography
    44 colour photographs mounted on wooden base (w x h):
    1 * 75 x 100 cm
    5 * 67 x 100 cm
    10 * 60 x 40 cm
    5 * 40 x 60 cm
    8 * 27 x 40 cm
    7 * 40 x 27 cm
    8 * 16 x 24 cm

    Video
    Video loop Salt Memories (DVD) ca. 9 min
    Video Ay Dios (DVD) ca. 19 min/ Dutch or English

Book

Ay Dios is a project containing over 100 photographs made on the island of Curacao in the year 2000. This work is a result of a four month visit as artist in residence within an exchange program designed by the Visual Arts Center, Rotterdam. The selected artists were given the freedom to work on their own projects with this particular place as their source of inspiration.

In 2001, the book Ay Dios was published, which does not only contain a rich selection of photographs, but also a text written by novelist Jan Brokken.

  • Ay Dios
    Diana Blok, Paradox/Veenman/Voetnoot, 2001.
    Text: Jan Brokken
    Pages: 90
    Colour: colour
    Language: English & Dutch
    ISBN 90-27815-57-7
    sold out

Film

In order to complement the photographic material, Diana Blok produced two films, one called Ay Dios, the other Salt Memories. Like the photographs in the exhibition and book, they do justice to the many facets of the island of Curaçao. The films were shown in TENT, Rotterdam as part of the exhibition.

  • Ay Dios
    Diana Blok/Jan Brokken, Paradox, 2001.
    18min/colour/video

    sold out

  • Diana Blok (Director)
    Jan Brokken (Text)
    Marc Schmidt (Editor)
    Suzie Blok (English voiceover)
    Jan Brokken (Dutch voiceover)

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