Catrien Ariëns

Documentary photography and video

©2013 Catrien Ariëns • Design UD

Video - The Night Holds Me Back


2010 - 2012

“The more you hold me back, the more I will shine” (tambú 'Pichi Lebeton').

Tambú is a mixture of singing, sensual dancing and music brought centuries ago by the slaves from Africa to the island of Curaçao. Tambú has a history of repression since it was banned in the past by the Dutch colonial government and the Catholic church. This generated a sense of shame in the people of their own culture and identity. Freed from the past, the present tambú has become an essential part of Curaçao’s heritage. Experienced tambú players explain the development of the tambú as the banned music of the slaves, how the instruments were made with limited resources ,and how tambú is passed on from generation to generation.

The present tambú is remarkably modern and gives us a glimpse into the thinking and soul of a great part of the Curaçao population: as a lament at the death of a beloved one, a complaint against absent fathers, treating the games of politics, or the holes in the pavement after the rainy season. And, inescapably, tambú’s are about love.


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Catrien Ariëns - The Night Holds Me Back