C&: What kind of findings in your new home in the Netherlands has marked you in a significant way? And how does that reflect in your art?
KO: There is something here in the Netherlands that I refer to as sobriety. To me, it feels like the lifestyle and landscape have no room for magic or magical thinking. In my work, I usually try to re-enchant the Dutch landscape and introduce Afro-Caribbean rituals and magical “ideas” into the landscape. So my work is a reflection of me creating my home, or my idea of home, here.
C&: What still fascinates you about Curaçao?
KO: I am fascinated by how rich our history and culture is. You need to understand that the education system on the island still has a colonial hangover. We learn our history from the Dutch perspective, and our own traditions and histories are shoved under a rug. We don’t talk about it. So doing this research on my own, I rediscover my island and the history of my island through an Afro-perspective. And to me, this is an honest perspective.
I am mostly fascinated by how our ancestors managed to practice their own religion (which was forbidden in colonial times) under the nose of the colonizer without them knowing. The rituals became a tool for protection and emancipation, and to this day they have survived.