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Expect the Unexpected

Papua New Guinea is part of the world's second largest island and has some stunning wildlife, like the Birds of Paradise. But the New Guinean people are the ones that make this country really unique.

Over 800 different languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea and the country is home to hundreds of distinct traditional social groups, or tribes, many of which have only recently been in contact with the outside world. Because of this diversity in tribes, many different styles of cultural expression have emerged; each group has created its own expressive forms in art, dance, weaponry, costumes, singing, music, architecture and much more. Although western influences have affected their day to day lives, many people still have strong tribal identities and customary believes.

In 2014 I was able to visit the Western and Highland provinces of Papua New Guinea, which gave me a great opportunity to photograph the tribal people. One of the most impressive events was my visit to a compensation ceremony. When two villages have a dispute (in this case caused by a car-accident in which one of the villagers was killed) the villagers come together to negotiate the peace, and a compensation is paid. The villagers dress up in traditional wear and weaponry while screaming and marching. The compensation can be paid in either money, pigs or cassowary birds. In this particular case the gifts were accepted and tribal war was avoided.

I tried to capture the proud spirits of the people of Papua New Guinea in my pictures. Until the 29th of June I exhibit my pictures in Rehabilitation Centre Reade in Amsterdam, location JBI. Come and take a look. Hopefully you'll enjoy "Expect the Unexpected"!

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