In Suriname, as in many other places, macho men posture with their cars and their motorcycles and their fancy clothes. But an even better way to win respect among one’s peers is to have a sweet singing bird.

Indeed, the ‘most popular sport in Suriname’ features men from all segments of the population coming together, in peaceful combat, to see who has the pet bird with the best voice. While the man pose behind their pets, the tiny caged birds are really the star of these contests.

After the independence of Suriname in 1975, this pastime came to The Netherlands along with the Surinamers. In both countries, the contests are traditionally held very early on Sunday mornings. In Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital, on Independence Square, and in The Netherlands, on lawns in parks in Amsterdam, The Hague and other cities.

In these photographs, Jacquie Maria Wessels looks past the usual displays of male identity and masculine image and finds that these men reveal another side of themselves through their caged birds.

—Alexander Strecker

Cityscapes + Birdmen - J.M. Wessels
Publisher: Voetnoot
Hardcover: 204 pages