Gilleam Trapenberg at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Gilleam Trapenberg‘s work at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam has garnered well-deserved recognition. His contribution to the acclaimed “In the Presence of Absence” exhibition challenges conventional narratives, offering a nuanced perspective of Sint Maarten. Born in Curaçao and currently based in Amsterdam, Trapenberg’s intimate portraits and captivating landscapes encourage viewers to look beyond the glossy veneer of tourist advertisements and appreciate the complexity of Caribbean life.

Trapenberg’s project, titled “This Surely Must Be Paradise,” is inspired by the book “Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean” by Polly Pattullo. As one tourist exclaimed, “This surely must be paradise.” However, Gilleam Trapenberg’s work goes beyond the superficial tourist gaze, aiming to challenge and complicate one’s understanding of the Caribbean. By juxtaposing personal acquaintances, local residents, and captivating environmental details, he unveils the multifaceted reality hidden beneath the tourist’s lens.

Throughout the exhibition, Gilleam Trapenberg invites one to engage with the Caribbean on a deeper level, fostering a more critical and authentic appreciation for this vibrant region. His innovative approach to photography has continued to captivate audiences worldwide.

The exhibition featuring Gilleam Trapenberg’s work at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam runs from September 5th, 2020, to January 31st, 2021. Click here or on the button below to learn more.

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ABOUT Gilleam Trapenberg

Born in 1991 in Willemstad, Curaçao
Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Born and raised in Curaçao, visual artist Gilleam Trapenberg (b. 1991) now lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Orbiting his homeland, his creative projects look closely at the fabric of Curaçao’s social landscape, probing at the island’s many paradoxes. He searches beneath the portrayals and tropes of Caribbean life that dominate (Western) media cycles, using the camera to create necessary counter-images.

Occasionally, though, Trapenberg is himself seduced by the allure of the exported picture- postcard; on European shores, nostalgia and longing take hold, perspectives drift, and memories of home are easily romanticised. For the artist, this experience of a perpetual limbo between two distinct places – connected by the fraught legacies of colonialism, enduring flows of goods and people, or even the mass tourism industry – is a growing focal point of his work.

A graduate of The Hague’s Royal Academy of Art, Trapenberg first moved to the Netherlands at 19 years old. In the years since, his works have been exhibited at institutions such as Foam Photography Museum and Stedelik Museum Amsterdam, whilst his first photobook – Big Papi – was published in 2017. He was the 2020 recipient of Foam’s Florentine Riem Vis grant and is one of five shortlisted artists for the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize 2023. The shortlisted works will soon be exhibited at London’s National Portrait Gallery.