Forever - in Trust (Willemstad, Curaçao)

Forever - what an amazing concept! Imagine, buildings being judged so significant that steps should be taken to ensure that they last forever. Communities the world over have been dealing with this notion for a long time, making decisions carefully, because planning and financial support required can be onerous. World recognition of protected buildings takes this idea to a whole new level. On a global scale, UNESCO pioneered this concept of preservation by issuing its first UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1978, and the number of protected sites on this list has grown significantly since then.

On the island of Curaçao, the idea of preservation in perpetuity came to fruition in 1997 when its capital city of Willemstad was placed on the UNESCO list. Today, 765 monuments in Willemstad, mostly historic mansions, commercial buildings and townhomes, have been designated for protection and preservation. Owners, renters, neighbours and the workers who carefully maintain and restore these buildings readily engage passersby in conversations that reveal the immense pride the people of Curaçao have in this heritage.

The photographs in this collection pay homage to these historical monuments and to the concept of forever. The final prints are actually composites, where images of clouds have been superimposed onto the images of the buildings. I chose this approach because during my stay in Curaçao clouds were always present and it was impossible to view buildings against a cloudless sky. When it is considered that clouds existed above the island long before the buildings came into being and will exist at least as long as the buildings, it seems a fitting pairing. In that sense, both the buildings and the clouds have been entrusted to the care of the people of Curaçao - forever, a shining example to communities everywhere.

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