PARTICIPATING ARTISTS & SCHOLARS
Ace Lehner and Crow Cianciola
Our project looks to the ghetto biennale as a counter exhibition, disrupting conventional art scene exclusions, as well as a bold conversion of global power systems, centers of art production, and cultural transmission. As U.S. artists proposing to travel to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to participate in the Ghetto Biennale it is important to us to be part of a critical dialogue about globalism. There are approximately 10,000 NGO’s operating in Haiti, all backed by the interests and finances of the US, France and Canada. Many of these NGOs are immersed in agricultural production. The resulting farms are part and parcel of the global industry of economic assistance. We are interested in utilizing tangerines and oranges from farms that have become part of the Haitian agricultural landscape through the presence of US funded NGO’s. For the duration of the Biennale we will appear as OINGO(oranges in non-governmental organizations) or ODONG (oranges dans des organismes non gouvernementaux) as a parody of an NGO, we will perform the systematic contradictions and dysfunctions of Non Governmental Organizations. In preparation for the Biennale we will purchase oranges and tangerines in the local markets. We will tattoo images on the citrus fruit of other artwork shown in the Biennale, plus Creole pigs, rice and bags of sugar and Contreau bottles. As the Biennale begins we=20 will set up altars (organized piles of tattooed fruit) wherever most feasible depending on the constraints of the Biennale but preferably in public highly trafficked areas of Port-au-Prince. During the Biennale we will operate as a uniformed team, one of us continuing to tattoo images on the citrus and assemble altars, while the other gives away the tattooed fruit and interacts with passers by via our translator and attempts to communicate using an English/Kreyol dictionary.
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Mapping the Coast
When the earth gets warmer, ocean tides rise and coastal spaces disappear. If, as scientists believe, the current global warming trend continues, our planet is going to look very different in a few short decades. The low lands of coastal cities like Port-au-Prince will soon be gone and replaced by water.
In an attempt to prepare people for these massive geographic changes, I will be mapping the future coast line of Port-au-Prince during the Ghetto Biennale. This project will be determined by time, not distance thus allowing this map to grow organically as I attempt to go around, over or through the many industrial areas that line the ocean.
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Building a New World
Five of APROSIFA 's young members will participate in the Ghetto Biennale in December 2009. They want to build a big sculpture that they want to call:
Building a New World
They see, today social inequality, racism, war are hurting too many people. As artists they want to promote social justice, change worldwide. They want this piece inspires love, solidarity, social justice for a new world.
The young people: Fenel Mathial, Ronald Cadet, Nathalie Fanfan, Jean Walgens Pierre, Jean Robert Almonord
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Badio Joseph Junior, Prince Luc, Lamitie Marc-Arthur, Eder Romeus, Jean-Paul Sylvaince & Obelto Desire
We are a group of artists from FOSAJ, an art center in Jacmel. For our participation we will make a big outdoor mural on the theme of 'What is discrimination?' Each artist in this group is going to approach this question, in their own way, to reflect a sense of their own suffering or else to relate to other forms of discrimination in their environment (racial, dreads, people living with a handicap, religious etc). In this sense we feel as Jacmelien artists from FOSAJ we can bring a breath of fresh air to the Biennale. To realize this project we need a big white wall on Grand Rue, or around the area, and each artist will be limited to an equal piece of the wall. We must collaborate with one and another to create a homogeneous work. All this work will be documented by a film-maker (Zaka Chery Claudel) who will shoot time lapse video, that will then be projected on the wall of the FOSAJ gallery where they will have an exhibition on the same theme.
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The17: Port-au-Prince 2009
The17 is a choir, but the choir is made up of different groups of people every time they perform. And it does not matter if those included in The17 are the world’s worst or greatest singers. And the only audience for The17 are those that are taking part. The17 began touring in 2006 and have performed more than 300 times all over Europe, including Moscow, Oslo, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Vienna, Zurich and London.
On Monday and Tuesday the 14th & 15th December 2009 we – my colleague John Hirst and myself – will want to create a performance by The17 in a school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This will be The17’s first performance in the new world of the Americas.
The performance in Port-au-Prince is to be twinned with a performance of the same score that was performed in a school in England in October 2009.
With the help of a translator we will want to work with ten separate classes in the same school over the two days. It would be good if these classes reflected the age range of the school.
With each class we would want to work with them for a minimum of 30 minutes.
In that time we will record the class singing a chosen note or musical phrase for five minutes. All ten recordings will be mixed together to make one five-minute piece of music. At the end of the school day on the Tuesday, we would then like all ten of the classes to gather together in one place, to listen to the recording they have taken part in making being played back to them. We hope it will be like no other music they have ever heard. The music will contain nothing but their voices, there will be no words and no tune, it may be frightening and it will be huge. After they have heard what they have done we will play them back to them what the students in the school in England did. We will then want to take a photograph of all ten classes together. We will present to the school a large group photograph of all the students in the English school.
On our return to England we will play to the students there what the students in Port-au-Prince recorded and present them with the photo of the students in Port-au-Prince.
This performance in Haiti and the one in England are both part of The17’s Coast-to-Coast world tour. The photographs taken and other information will be used in a book and exhibition documenting the world tour.
John Hirst and I will arrive in Haiti with the recording equipment that we will need for this performance but will have to source a PA system that we can take into the school while in Port-au-Prince.
During the week that John Hirst and I are in Haiti we will also be giving a performance by The17 in a local Voodoo temple and giving a talk about the work of The17 and what we have been doing in the school, to the other artists attending the festival.
Any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask.
Mobile: +44 (0) 7803 607 034
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Brandaid Toy Project
Play is a child's work and toys are their tools. A home made toy industry once flourished in the slums of Port au Prince. The toys, made from recycled materials, were always affordable to the working poor. The slums have their own economy. Pull toys were hand made from tin cans salvaged from the dump. Perfect little replicas of cars, trucks and buses emerged from the flattenned tin of powdered milk cans. There was magic in them and for countless impoverished children these toys were the stuff of dreams. The toy makers were artisans who crafted the ladles, braziers and cooking utensils from scrap tin. They earned a few extra dollars making toys and these toys gave the slum hope. They let people know that we may be poor but we can still give our kids a little home made joy. Beginning with the U.N enforced embargo in the early 1990's Haiti's economy has been in free fall. The poor are now extremely poor. The price of food goes up every year. Haiti has lost many things that make life worth living. People are now so poor they can't afford the few dollars to buy a toy. Most of the toy makers have died. Hardly anyone remembers the home made toys of Cite Soleil.
The Brandaid Toy Project is an action study to resurrect the indigenous toy industry that once enlivened the slums of Haiti. One of the last surviving master artisan toy makers has been located and commissioned to create several prototypes. The first toy line is called Tap tap and features replicas of the famous fantastically painted Haitian buses. Made entirely by hand with home made tools from discarded tin cans they are hand painted with designs, motifs and colours inspired by that cultural icon of Haitian transportation, the Tap tap. An important part of the project is the training of young people in these toy making skills with the aim of seeding a new toy making sector in Haiti. This will surely create a few new entrepreneurs but it will also begin to restore the creativity and imagination that only toys can give to the life of a child.
The Brandaid Toy Project will participate in the first Ghetto Biennale, Port au Prince, Haiti,Nov. 28 to Dec.18, 2009
Cameron Brohman, Co-founder
905 526 8540; Cell: 416 553 8290
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Carole Frances Lung
Made in Haiti
“The apparel of this god is in keeping with his people, he likes to dress himself in an old black overcoat, torn old black hat with a high crown and worn-out black pants.” Pg. 220
Feel My Horse. Zora Neale Hurston
Haiti has the potential for being the next victim of multinational apparel manufacturers. Responding to this Frau Fiber, itinerate textile worker and activist, subverts this system, by collaboratively instigating Haitian textile workers to repurpose used garments from the west, turning them into fantastically, shabby couture apparel, and exporting them back into the United States.
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Cat Barich, Tania Stanic and Dalia Neis
Radio Grand Rue
We will be running Radio Grand Rue a temporary Internet radio station. Transmissions will include sound collages recorded in various locations of Port-au-Prince. As well as recording and broadcasting the final conference and setting-up a sound installation for the opening of the Biennale, we like to give platform to other participating artists by broadcasting interviews and sound contributions.
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Haitian Graffitti Artists
Over a year ago, graffiti style color and b/w drawings started to appear on downtown Port-au-Prince walls and rather rapidly made it to uptown Petion-Ville walls. At first, most of them were signed “Jerry” but were soon joined by two other ubiquitous artists “Marc” and “Kadafi”. Today they have joined in what they called” the Haitian Graffiti Movement”. Shortly after the pop star death, Jerry’s version of Michael Jackson made the New York Times.
An audiovisual piece using still photos and video segments will document the artists and their work. The artists will give us a filmed tour of various Port-au-Prince neighborhoods where their art is on display and will engaged with the onlookers, seeking their reactions and comments. They will also be filmed as they produce new drawings .
The final document will be screened in the yard of the downtown workshop of the Grand Rue sculptors Eugene, Giyoteau and Celeur who are hosting the Ghetto biennale.
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The Island Ghetto Biennale in London
The Island is the studio of Italian artist Daniele Geminiani located in London East End, which is used to present the work of various artists as well as collaborative projects. It is a space open to the public and receptive to interconnections .
Projects are developed as moments in which a dialogue can be stimulated; they arouse/originates from the artworks and link their contents to the subjects and issues developed troughout The Island’s activities (over the time).
The studio presupposes by its very nature the exchange among quite dissimilar geographical places, environments and social realities.
With this approach The Island will exhibit sculptures by Haitian artists André Eugène, Celeur Jean Hérard and Guyodo Klere and it will be an actual part and partner of the Haiti Biennale in London.
Among the many existing curatorial models of art biennials all over the world, the idea of presenting the Ghetto Biennale in the Uk, is directly related to the issues that give rise to the Bienniale itself, such as for Haitian artists to overcome the dual isolation of an island and of a ghetto.
For more information please visit: www.islandtheisland.org
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L'homme nan tout libertè
Domond is an naïve painter who work with figurative abstraction, he is an artist who is unique in the way he works. In the Ghetto Biennale he wants to make a triangular flag for each nationality artist who is present for the Biennale and finish with a big Haitian flag which will be bigger than the others. He wants to decorate all of Grand Rue with these flags. For it is a way to show all the differences that there are, social, economic that we have between artists from different countries, all artists are brothers and one must support the other and share knowledge too.
Domond se yon atis pent nayif ki travay abstraksyon figiratif, se yon atis ki inik nan jan li an, nan kad GHETTO BIENNALE li vle reyalize yon drapo triyangilè pou chak nasyonalite atis ki ap prezan nan biennal la epi pou fini ak yon gwo drapo Ayiti k' ap pi gwo tout lòt yo li vle dekore tout ri gran ri ak yo. Pou li se yon jan pou montre ak tout diferans ki genyen, sosyal, ekonomik ki genyen ak atis ki nan diferan peyi, tout atis se frè epi, nou youn dwe sipòte lòt, epi pataje konesans tou. Pou reyalize pwojè sa a Domond anvizaje alafwa koud twal ak pentire yo tou li ap mande pou nou jwenn otorizasyon pou li ka mete mete yo sou gran ri.
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Considering the parallels between my own imagery and Vodou’s depiction of Loa’s in the ‘spiritual arts’, I will create 5-6 drapos (flags) re-contextualized with images of young black males referencing 5-6 of vodou’s Lwa ( spirits). The Flags will be embellished in sequence and rhinestones flower petals and its central image will be photo based. These central photo based imagery will make a direct comment on the face of Haiti’s gangs and its leadership, which is very reminiscent of Jamaica’s gang structure- the young black male. This was quite apparent in a film, ‘Ghosts of Cite Soleil’; which shows the glamorized and idealized machismo associated with gang culture .The film also reveals the relationship that the members of these communities have with its ‘ chiefs’. They are feared, revered and respected and are often treated as demy- gods. They come from inner city life where the laws of the street prevail over the laws of the land. With this proposed project I will research Haitian vodou and spiritual practices in Jamaica that by and large are reflected strongly in dancehall culture, and its contributions to constructs of masculinity dictated by both inner city gang cultures.
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Kathy Goes to Haiti, Final Chapter
A small independent short video production takes place during the preparation phase of The Ghetto Biennale, the shoot itself is the artwork. We endeavor for this project to continue on past the biennale in the form of a full fledged film production to be completed in Cap Haitian and Jacmel next spring.
The story is of a middle class American white girl who goes to Haiti with no money and knows no one. A promiscuous exploration of Port Au Prince and Cap Haitian and back ensues. The story is actually a mathematically structured experiment: The beginning and end of the story are eerily devoid of emotional expression, the conversations and characters are simplistic even. Then at the very center of the story (measured exactly in number of pages) is a completely literal climax of emotion -- wherein Kathy confronts her need for love and sex from a married bourgeoisie playboy named Roger who is described as resembling a young Fidel Castro. Bluntly portrayed sex scenes are interspersed with maddeningly simple conversations between the protagonist Kathy and the men women, and children she meets.
The final chapter which will be shot at the GB is the chapter where Kathy returns to Port Au Prince looking for Roger and instead gets a reading from a Vodou Priest. This chapter was written outside of the structure of the rest of the book, Acker states that this chapter was the most interesting to write because it was a purely journalistic account of her visit to Haiti. Thus we will allow ourselves the freedom to deviate from the script at times and let the experience take us where it will...
Collaborating with Flo McGarrell is Cary Cronenwett (Cronenwett and McGarrell also had a creative partnership realizing the film "Maggots and Men") students from Cine Institute in Jacmel including Zaka Claudel Chery, Herman Desorme, and several other talented artists and filmmakers from the US including Zackary Drucker as the lead, Laura Teodosio, and Erin Durban, Leah Gordon from the UK, and Atis Resistanz Andre Eugene as the "Voodoo Doctor".
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Co-conceived by Hermane Desorme, performed by Lakou.
A performance that employs dance, text, theater, costume, live video, and live painting. Zonbi Zonbi explores all types of zonbification - thus its not only just after death that a person becomes a zombie - which is to say that many people become zombies without even knowing it. It all turns on their job, beliefs, problems, dreams, religion, and fantasy. With all difference and necessity that life gives us . . . "Nou tout se Zonbi! We are all Zombie!"
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Inspired by the Levi-Strauss's principles of bricolage and magical thinking, rising out of the waste that washes downstream from the mainstream [and from the first world to the third], Trash Church is a bricolaged structure for worship and contemplation built from surplus and obsolete materials. The specific aesthetic will evolve out of available building materials, and from the building process itself, which should be experimental, relational, performative, collaborative and carnivalesque, available for and open to change. The structure may or may not include aspects of new media, ancient sacred architecture and vodou. This will be an immersive and relational work, properly experienced only in real-time, like everything worth doing in and out of the material world. Jesse Darling works in installation and performance: she was born in 1980 in Great Britain and has been down and out in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and New York. She draws inspiration from mass-production fallout: the rising effluvia [human, industrial and philosophical] that we cannot absorb or get rid of.
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Can someone from the first world see/photograph within the third world without voyeurism or objectification? For the period of the Biennale, I will test this query by opening a roaming, formal portrait studio. Members of the local community will be invited to make appointments to have their portrait made. They may then choose to either come to the studio, or have the studio come to them.
Formally, the portraits will follow the example of artists like Mike Disfarmer, James VanDer Zee and Seydou Keita, who used the commercial and utilitarian aspects of their practice to portray their subjects with a consideration and respect that was both clear-eyed and beautiful.
The difficulty in this case is how to avoid enacting the familiar and problematic situation wherein the first world artist takes home a photograph of “the other” as souvenir. It’s possible that any interaction between these two parties will smack of imperial beneficence, especially if that interaction is instigated by the first world. In order to minimize that effect, each portrait will remain with its subject,
ie, they will not be displayed as the results of this collaboration. Instead, documentation of the project will concentrate on the point of exchange between the two parties; the discussions and negotiations regarding how the sitter wants to be seen/photographed. The life of the image will be entirely determined by its subject – potentially occupying a place of importance in the home, or as an exchange between loved ones
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Laurence Kent Jones
Panoramic Views of Grand Rue
I am an American diplomat assigned to Port-au-Prince, and I have been living here for the last two years. I have been an active photographer on the streets of metropolitan Port-au-Prince, both in the context of my work in the priority zones and on my own account. In addition to more traditional street photography, I have been making panoramic photographs, including mural shots of whole neighborhoods. I have always been ambitious as a photographer to get it all into to the frame of a photo. In the context of Haiti one way to do that is to push the frame wider by using panoramic techniques.
My concept for my presentation at the Ghetto Biennale is two fold. I propose to exhibit a collection of my Haitian photographs consisting of street scenes and panoramic cityscapes, focusing, to the degree that my work allows, on the downtown Grand Rue area. In the context of my exhibition and the larger Biennale I propose to give one or more full demonstrations of the creation of digitally stitched panoramic photographs, starting from the capturing of the images to digital processing and stitching (combining multiple photographs into a seamless whole) to printing a mural sized final piece to be immediately displayed.
Recognizing that no high tech equipment is inexpensive in the Haitian context, I nonetheless propose to make the technique as accessible as possible by using an inexpensive camera, generic Windows computer and low end printer. The necessary software is all available as freeware, and I will distribute CDs containing the necessary programs for both Windows and OSX operating equipment to any who are interested in the process. I will not buy any new equipment for this project, but will work with what I have on hand and scrounge or make any necessary additions, encouraging potential practitioners to do the same.
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Postcards for Gédé
My project finds me guided by dreams of grinning Papa Gédé, wielding the phallus as a compass needle, pointing a way through the hypnopompic realm towards some sleazy surrealism. I’m attempting to draw pictures and attention with kreyon pèp and Kreyòl to the issues as in-jokes that I share with the Gédé Lwa. I aim to draw parallels between the languages of Seaside Smut and Betiz; knitting kindred, low brows. I am producing Saucy Seaside Postcards designed to appeal to Gédé humour- revelling in trauma and titillation, shadows and shades, possession and pricks. They are an autobiographical assemblage of my native working-class culture and sexually charged near death experiences. I am unable to attend the Biennale in the flesh, due to my lack of several internal organs, the limitations of my surgically reconstructed anatomy, and my subsequent dependence on the closest proximity of a shiny hospital. The cards are to be distributed at will by the participants of the Ghetto Biennale. I hope that some will find their way to Gédé.
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dances with her shadow - paraphernalia
"The clue lies there...The symbols of the divine show up in our world initially at the trash stratum" Philip K Dick
'dances with her shadow - paraphernalia' is a live noise performance act. Moving through a amongst a matrix of live electronic curiosa a performer, as a fictional species divines samples from diverse sources - glitches, break beats, noise, broken up lyrics and abstract movement make sounds like a radio transmission coming from else where maybe even as far as Tasmania ...
A playful ode to the history of paraphernalia and its subjugated etymology. Like bricolage, most people have no regard for paraphernalia because it appears messy, futile or secondary while in reality it reveals essential life processes. It puts us eye to eye with vital operations far removed from what the Western Philosophical tradition believes to be a progressive way of thinking. The word is ultimately from Medieval Latin as the brides property apart from her dowry that she can dispose of at her own will. Personal amulets menstruation items talismans, gadgets, a bottle of oil, a doll, bibs anb bobs, things that are usually judged as waste trash or excessive divination odds and ends items that are usually prone to healing belief in auguries or tokens for predictions.
This work is also a gesture to a painting 'Rope Dancer accompanies herself with her shadows' (1916) by Man Ray. The painting seems to reflect a philosophical principle in which Duchamp, also believes that the value of an object lies not in the object itself, but in the mind of her who creates the value.
Like in 'Dances with her Shadow' in the painting the dancer is accompanied not only by her shadow but also by music, the cables across the bottom, the position of her feet on the strings, as if the dancer were indeed accompanying herself musically. The dancer figure is a transparent abstraction - do the accompanying paraphernalia represent reality, or only the illusion, idea, or shadow of reality?
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I can't explain this, I only describe it
I will visit over a period of 7 days different situations in Port au Prince that I may not particularly understand or identify immediately. These may be markets, religious ceremonies, cemeteries, roadside food stalls, mechanics workshops? My visit to each situation will be a life-drawing session. I will watch, "try to understand" what is happening, choose a scene and whichever filtered information might be important or valuable to me will be transferred on fabric and paper with a naive impressionistic approach.
I will use oil colours and pencil.
After the 7-day "excursion", I will use the three days left and find three of the local artists who will be willing to act as "a Jury". The Jury will function as the board of artists, who get to send those pieces they like to the final exhibition. If none of the pieces is successful, none will be exhibited. The assessment will take a maximum of 24 hours. I will submit chosen work and use the last day for the installation.
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Pedro Lasch, Miguel Rojas-Sotelo, and Esther Gabara
1810-1910-2010: Bicentenario y Narcochingadazo / Bicentennial & Narcochinagadazo
Bicentennial & Narcochingadazo was launched in May of 2009 via the internet and a series of events in Spanish and Yucatec Mayan in the city of Mérida, Yucatán during the IV Bienal Interactiva (see: http://www.1810-1910-2010.com/blog/ ). Developed with a growing number of individuals and organizations, the Narcochingadazo project invites participants to create collaborative spaces that critically engage with the various national and international celebrations of independence happening across Latin America and the Caribbean in 2010. Under the general call of ‘contra las oligarquías y sus celebraciones oficiales’ (against oligarchies and their official celbrations) the first stage of the project (May to December, 2009) is mostly dedicated to establishing connections with individuals and social groups who want to produce events, actions, and works for the second stage (June to December, 2010), a time when we will confront the innumerable official celebrations from our various nodes on the map. All of our interventions will be autonomously organized in each location. Many of them will be tactically disguised as official ones. Some of them will be covert, others public. The first stage of the project will end with our participation in the Ghetto Biennale in Port-Au-Prince. By making this the event that also initiates the many actions and events of next year, we hope to keep Haiti and the Caribbean at the forefront of the debate and artistic creations around the 2010 bicentennials, especially as the Haitian Revolution – a contemporary of the French Revolution, is continuously excluded from official hemispheric and world narratives. We will engage local artists and others visiting Port-Au-Prince for this occasion in the following direct ways. We will produce a mural on site between Dec 14 and 21, using the map of Latino/a America and the dates of 1810-1910-2010 as a background for local visual or textual confrontations with them. There will also be a series of workshops and actions on ritual and race discourse led by Pedro Lasch, using mirror masks from his Naturalizations project ( see http://www.naturalizaciones.com/ ) . Lastly, we will bring together the two previous elements during the December 16th show, as we launch the year of 2010 bicentennials with a reading of the Narcochingadazo Manifesto in Creole, Spanish, and English. Miguel Rojas-Sotelo will lead simultaneous readings with past participants around the world in places like Bogotá, Colombia, and Durham, USA. What will happen in 2010, we leave as a challenge to our collective imagination.
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Philip Tonda Heide
An installation of video portraits. Project description:
I'm interested in researching in the relation between peoples' inner and outer realities. Video-portraits of people with closed eyes, telling about their wishes and dreams. The videos will show the person in his/hers physical environment, as well as give an insight into his imaginary space. My aim is to have a collection of such video portraits of people from several various cultures all over the world, and to see the possible similarities or differences across cultures, and to research in how far the local culture versus mass media is reflected in peoples' dreams.
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The Apprenticeship System
Firsthand accounts of the apprenticeship system and the Grand Rue artists’ relationship to materials are at the core of this project. Using sound recording technology and displaying the finished work as a four channel audio sculpture the goal is to engender a dialog from which both cultures can take away something meaningful. My approach will encompass documentary, deep listening, recording that focuses on the sounds that are often caught between the labels of ‘background’ and ‘foreground’ in our consciousness, and environmental sound recording.
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Roberto N Peyre
Ship of Fools
SHIP OF FOOLS is an ongoing long-term project of research, meditation and embodiment of Carnival cultures around the Atlantic Ocean.
During the Ghetto Biennale I will stage one or more sessions of live video workings involving me in a collaborative improvisation with a local artist operating through sound/percussion. Throughout the session pre-recorded video-loops and distortions will be triggered and mutated in relation to the soundscape responding to the visuals and the audience. The event will be organised as a happening or a club night with sound and visuals projected and arranged as an installation.
The video recordings consist in encounters with various phases and facets of carnival, from the puerile and banal to more elaborated liminal excursions. From pre-tensions of the festivities to the chaos of - and after - the grand finale. From the voyeuristic to the mere movements of the cameraman, or a gaze getting lost and found in various altered states.
Ship of Fools as a project was initiated while participating in, and filming, the carnival of Cardiff (UK) 2001. I have since then been participating, and recording my highly idiosyncratic negotiations on documentary footage, at four “pre-Lent” street carnivals around the Atlantic; Jacmel (Haiti) 2003, Loulé (Portugal) 2005, Olinda/Recife (Brazil) 2007 and New Orleans (USA) 2009. The project is a work in progress and my intention is to keep filming throughout carnivals around the Atlantic until the seminal year 2012.
A first incarnation of the project as an audiovisual event and installation was presented and elaborated in Stockholm/Sweden 2008 (for more information see www.robertonpeyre.com and www.nordingallery.com).
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Roderic Southall, Obsidian Arts in partnership with Diaspora Vibe Gallery
$2.00 a Day + Things We Ought to Know = Will Cause a Revolution
December 11 – 19, 2009 Port Au Prince, Haiti
Hugo Moro: The work that I am envisioning doing in Haiti will take the form of healing ceremonies or altars whose meaning will be developed from my memories of the syncretized Christian/Santeria ceremonies which I witnessed growing up in Cuba. The work will contain rituals and meanings invented by me to besiege unknown powers to help us heal.
Artist Statement - I come from a family of homemakers, blacksmiths and carpenters. I see a work in my mind, think it through down to minute details in a most obsessive way, I repeatedly envision myself going through every step of construction, conceptual and formal problems are encountered and revised. Only after I have imaged the finished piece in my head do I begin to make the construction. Ostensibly this method leaves no room for discovery or epiphany; just the opposite is true. As soon as the piece begins to develop, a new element, perhaps an accidental crack in a cast form, a random discovered fact during research, an ironic joke overheard, changes everything.
Christopher-Aaron Deanes: As a Contemporary African American Christian artist, I hope that this be an opportunity to explore the religions in Haiti and 70% of the population of Voodoo patrons. Voodoo is taken very seriously in Haiti by many intelligent and learned members of the Haitian society some believe in Voodoo as do German theology professors in Christianity. In no way do I intend to convert, or make a mission to convert others, however I hope to explore the sources, intents, the connections to their community and culture. I also hope to explore the minority of Christian community there and their traditions. This would be a definite area of culture less explored.
Artist Statement - Christopher recently began examining the way we view things through what we understand on the surface of our society and the revelation of a God-head or spiritual hierarchy. Questions stirred dealing with the canonicity of mans perception of whom and what is God authority in images? Christopher has started to depict images of common people as Saints; as painted by 16 Century through 18th Century artist. His goal is to create conversations and environments that will challenge perception and thoughts about a higher power. Eye candy and mind food is modern art.
Edgar Young: I plan to bring a small sketch book, a small pack of unsharpened pencils and sonic recording device in which I will record my findings, both pictorially and literally. I will be translating my finding onto wood with charcoal, etchers, acrylic paint, and aerosol paint for the exhibition in Haiti and upon my return to the United States I will continue that process. This process will require minimum three days of deep soul searching and meditation to properly prepare for the translation process to begin. My findings (sketch book, sonic recordings and small pack of pencils) will be made available for examination for the viewer to explore. I want this project to be a soul searching experience for both the viewer and myself. Just as I used my finding to translate the situation on to wood, I believe it is through sincere soul searching that we are able to find solutions.
Jacquenette Arnette: The framework of my project is simple. I want to create a body suit, like a mummy’s costume out of uniquely Western consumer products packaging. I will wear this suit to Haiti than I will cut it off and suspend it. While I am in Haiti I will fill the ‘inside’ of the wrapping with materials I find in Haiti. This part of the project I cannot fully realize until I am there. Given the history of Haiti, many around the world have come to believe strongly in the existence of true zombies while ill-informed visitors are told stories of lifeless bodies being snatched away from their graves and mysteriously brought back to life to work as unpaid laborers in Haiti’s agricultural industry. For the viewers/ visitors part, the presumptive zombie-makers revel in the resulting free publicity and industry. It seems, then, that zombie-making is a business. I am working with the notion of being a Zombie, a consumerist zombie that will be unleashed in Haiti, the land of Voodoo and souls held by magic. The thread that I am following is filled with parallels from the 1st and 3rd world not just about zombies and the living dead but consumerism, culture, individuality and source. I want to make a simple correlation between Western Ideas of socialization via shopping and consumerist identities cross referenced in Haiti by what I see.
Artist Statement - As an artist I am consistently concerned with the ways that we communicate. How one stranger communicates to another person, not just ideas, but the instinctual framework of their unique social experience that they live in. In my work I speculate the origin of imagery, cultural norms, colloquial language, and trends. I try to mediate the both vast and minute differences in our continually homogeneous global community. I use all of these observations to create a new visual vernacular.
Luis Garcia Nerey: My basic attempt is to construct a shelter-like structure mainly consisting of found objects. The materials will be gathered in Haiti throughout my stay and will serve as the structural part of my installation. My work in general, is loosely based on the theory of Constructionism with an emphasis on Social Construction. The importance of this philosophy lies not in the prior but in the process. Although, there is a prior general concrete idea for this specific project, its success can only be achieved through the unpredictable interaction with the environment and its people, which will occur in the process of the works production. In recent years I have traveled to many different places throughout the Americas and abroad with similar projects. I have found myself immersed in different cultures, belief systems and political views. What has fascinated me the most, is how through the interaction within the day to day social dynamics my works evolve and become interwoven with the fabric of set society. This interaction allows the work to be less planned and more spontaneous, hence, taking on the Contructionism philosophy view. It allows the work to be constructed not only by me but also by the environment in which it is presented.
Artist Statement - My works deal with many subjects. In recent pieces I have been commenting on the abundance of discarded materials and how one can transform something left to waste into something valuable and meaningful. Although the focus on my latest works deals with this subject, my core intentions are always for the viewers to interact with the piece with the purpose of giving them life. This interaction between the viewer and works is what I'm ultimately interested in.
For me, it is about participation in the form of interaction. I create installations that invite the viewer to be part of the work, therefore involving them in the process of constructing the conceptual idea behind them.
Seitu Jones: Haiti’s urban and rural environments are being degraded on a scale that is unprecedented in the Americas. I will research what plants that are native to Haiti can thrive in an urban environment and what plants can be grown for food in the streetscape. I will order those seeds from the USDA seed bank and bring them to Haiti. In Port Au Prince I propose identifying a group of children to help me mix the seeds with native soil to create at least 1000 seed balls that can be distributed or thrown onto small areas of exposed soil. The soil and seeds in the seed ball will mix with the earth and with water and will spawn the plants that will aid in greenlining Port Au Prince. Some seed balls will be rolled by hand and pressing the seed mix into a small mold. The 2"-3" seed balls will be created entirely in Port Au Prince, displayed and then given away during the exhibition. I further propose identifying a Grand Rue sculptor I can collaborate with to create a set of small garden implements based upon the forms of Haitian cosmograms that after the exhibition will be left with an identified set of caretakers of the small gardens created from seed balls.
Artist Statement - I create environmentally based art that honors the communities in which it is found. I’ve pursued a disciplined aesthetic, academic and community course of study to build an artistic practice that integrates art, nature and community in meaningful ways. My research on the relationship of plants and humans, landscape design, and environmental theory undergirds my understanding of the critical intersection between the natural environment and the public realm.
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Power in the Blood
Power in the Blood is a Socio-Demography arts project created by community members in Port-au-Prince, Haiti using MOBILOGRAPHY…
Mobilography (from "mobilis" (lat.) - movable and "grapho" (gr.) - to write) is a branch of photography that creates pictures using such devices with built-in cameras, as cellular phones, palm pilots, compasses, binoculars, lighters, etc, not originally intended to be used for professional photography.
The mobile phone industry has revolutionised the globe in terms of instant and cheap communication with vast social and political outcomes. Less than a decade ago the ‘text messaging era’ slowly crept into some societies. In more recent years text messages are being superseded by the mobilographic image. A photograph on a mobile phone used to convey the statement or message that an otherwise long winded text might once have done. As technology has advanced so has the built in camera facilities within the mobile phone that enables the user to do this. Mobilography* creates a visual language which captures symbols and works of art in your immediate environment.
Working with a generational populus of varying ages from 14 years upwards the local participants will be asked to participate, document and communicate via a mobile phone taking photos of their daily routines, environs & everyday lives developing a complete socio-demographic art form that can be used to represent and further archive that exact space and time in a democratic context. Initially developing it as a 2D photographic project. As part of the final presentation a selection of images will be chosen to be develop into a series of flags by the local audience and neighbourhood communities. Selecting the photos that best convey everyday day life or aspects of the Port-au-Prince region.
The mobilography art flags are inspired by the history of the Haitian flag. 18 May is National Flag day, the anniversary of the first red and blue Haitian flag sewn by Catherine Flon in 1803 from a French flag with it's white centre removed. I come from a small community in the valleys of South Wales and the power and symbolism of national flags has always interested me: the Welsh is the only flag of its constituent countries not to be represented in the UK's Union Jack. Both the St George flag of England and the Union Jack have been appropriated by xenophobic and white extremist groups and this process too is worth exploring as a mirrored opposite of the symbolism embedded in the origin of the Haitian flag.
Related Mobilography projects include:
The Kansk Mobilography exhibition Titled Video Voodou verses Cinema Magic
This was acquired for permanent collection at The Kansk Art Gallery nr the City of Krasnoyarsk in Eastern Siberia, Russia.
The work features a section of my mobilography relating to the Gran Rue Artists visit to the Foundry UK 2007:
Other related Mobilography projects include Tate Britain and Whitechapel Art Gallery London:
A further narrative that I will be weaving into my project at the Ghetto Biennale includes a response to when the Grand Rue artists first appeared on my radio show in 2007, this will include an interactive skill sharing through materials in sculpting and other local practices.
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Jana Evans Braziel
Jana Evans Braziel is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Affiliate Faculty in Africana Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Braziel’s scholarly and pedagogical interests are in American hemispheric literatures and cultures, Caribbean studies, Haitian studies, and the intersections of diaspora, transnational activism, and globalization. Braziel is the author of three books: Diaspora: An Introduction (Blackwell, 2008); Artists, Performers, and Black Masculinity in the Haitian Diaspora (Indiana University Press, 2008); and Caribbean Genesis: Jamaica Kincaid and the Writing of New Worlds (SUNY, 2009). Braziel’s fourth book, Duvalier’s Ghosts: Race, Diaspora, and U.S. Imperialism in Haitian Literatures, is forthcoming in 2010 from the University Press of Florida. In June 2010, Braziel will finish her fifth book Entangled Gardens: Genesis, Environmentalism, and Political Economy in Caribbean Literatures.
Currently, Braziel is also working on two interrelated manuscripts: the first, tentatively entitled The Fog of War: U.S. Cultures of Violence, 2001-2008, addresses violations of human rights and cultural representations of violence in the global terror war as exemplary of “new world order” policies; and the second, entitled All too Human? Haiti, Humanities, and Human Rights addresses the issues of social, economic, and political rights as engaged by and portrayed in Haitian and Haitian diasporic cultural forms, primarily literature and film.
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My interest in Haitian Vodu stems from research into the aesthetics of horror in contemporary Western culture. This interest culminated in my PhD thesis ‘Revolting Subjects and Epidemic Disorder – Georges Bataille, Heterology and Broadcast Horror’ which I completed at the RCA in London in 1995. This research led me to the work of Anton Mesmer whose practice of animal magnetism was fashionable amongst revolutionary Republican circles in France and her colonies. Mesmer himself is said to have claimed responsibility for the foundation of the Haitian Republic, on the premise that is was consequence of the practice of animal magnetism amongst the slave communities there. This far-fetched claim, however implausible, when thought in relation to the myth of the Bois Caiman ceremony, resonated weirdly with Bataille’s theories regarding the revolutionary potential of ritual sacrifice as an unleashing of contagious social energy. It was this correlation of events and ideas, and on ongoing interest in the relationship between Materialist and Spiritualist accounts of social and historical change and human agency, that has informed my interest in the history and mythology of Haiti and Vodu culture, particularly as it is encountered and distorted in the colonial imagination, popular culture and mass media.
I'd like to draw your attention to the blog I have just started to discuss the development of the Ghetto Biennale conference in Haiti later this year. Please feel free to comment.
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Katherine Smith is a PhD candidate in the World Arts and Cultures department at University of California Los Angeles. She is currently finishing her dissertation on the Vodou spirit Gede, titled Gede Rising: Haiti in the Age of Vagabondaj. Katherine has been spent significant time in Haiti since first coming in 1999. She has been fortunate to attend Carnival in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel eight times during those years.
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Polly Savage is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where she teaches courses about African Art and Art Theory. She worked for five years as Assistant Curator at the October Gallery in London, and now works as a free-lance writer and lecturer, based in southeast London. She is currently conducting research about contemporary curatorial practice and post-independence history in Angola, through the department of Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, London. Her research has previously covered art practice and post-colonialism in Madagascar, Haiti and Brazil, with particular focus on exhibition practice. She first visited Grand Rue in 2007, and can’t wait to go back.
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Art, the Lwa and the Sèvitè who Love Them
I have spent the past two years researching the connection between the belief amongst Vodun practitioners both in Africa and in the African diaspora that spirits live in trees and the art that they create. In Benin Republic, West Africa, one finds an example of art that reflects this worldview. In a tree sculpted by Beninois artist, Savi, the scenes of human history in Benin that he carves from the tree are also scenes of spirit life. The images that Savi carves into the tree bole seem to emerge from within making visible the spirits already present in the wood.
I found what I consider a comparable example of a “woodworker making visible the spirit present in the wood” from across the ocean is a statue of the lwa by Haitian sculptor or (bos pié-bwa, in Haitian Kreyòl), Nacius Joseph. According to LeGrace Benson, Joseph is continuing an old tradition in Haiti of carving from the trunk-base and roots of trees. She calls this practice travay rasin or root work (430). The artist was engaging in ritual recollection and veneration of ancestors--that is, “deeply felt directed attention to the most cherished beliefs and practices”, some of which are also conveyed by stories, songs, dances, dramatized rituals, and creation of objects that “serve to inculcate the necessary habits of attention in themselves and into the next generation” (429-430). The sculpture portrays Papa Loko, the lwa of agriculture and lwa Damballah, the beneficent serpent who bestows rain and harvest to his sèvitè. The artist uses the physical form of the wood to “reveal its immanent spiritual content” (430). Like Savi, Joseph pays attention to the wood as a workable substance as well as the spiritual presence that it holds. Benson identifies the way that Joseph approaches his material and his art as a persistent way of attending to the world—one that she attributes to Lan Guinée, a mythical Africa. This worldview recognizes the interrelatedness of the earth with the spirit world, with history and its relationship to contemporary society.
The way that both artists’ conception of a method of carving that follows the natural lines of the tree in order to give the impression of figures emerging from the wood also speaks to a shared cultural aesthetic that honors continuity, memory and spirit’s integral role in it.
While I have been working on this project for the two years I know that I have just begun to scratch the surface. I hope to look at the way that the artists who work in Grand Rue, see the spirits of the lwa and the ancest ors and bring them to life during and following the artmaking process. I will do so through both, observation and interview.
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Secondhand (Pepe) by Hanna Shell and Vanessa Bertozzi
In this documentary about used clothing, the historical memoir of an immigrant rag picker intertwines with the present-day story of 'pepe' — secondhand clothing that flows from North America to Haiti. Secondhand (Pepe) animates the materiality of recycled clothes — their secret afterlives and the unspoken connections among people in an era of globalization.
"Weaving the old with the new, the past with the present, the local with the global, and the social with the economic, Shell and Bertozzi have created a stylistically compelling and thought provoking tapestry of a film, providing first-hand insight into the history and culture of secondhand clothing."
- Alan Berliner, Filmmaker
Still by Joelle Ferly
“Joëlle Ferly brings to both photography and video a creative sense of performativity” (Christopher Kul-Want, Director of the Master Degree course in Fine Art at Central Saint martins school of Art - London)
Joëlle Ferly’s practice is an introspection into our world through “absurd” scenes which allow the participant to experiment the artwork rather than remaining totally passive to understand the underlying concept of free wheel.
Ferly’s work always questions the position of the artist, whether in a compassionate or critical way and endeavours to give her practice a real sense of autonomy.
Using various media that span from objects juxtaposed to natural elements (water and mountain scapes turned into sculptures) to visuals mixed with words or sounds, Ferly likes to create ephemeral pieces (very short videos, installations, performances, artwork exhibited in a weekly newspaper and so on…)
Her videos play on retinal effects, which create patchworks and revisit20our common references, values and memories. "
A Tetralogy of Emancipation by Joyce Ip
Joyce Ip's work experiments with the plural nature of subjective experience and its dual relationship to intersubjective human connectedness. Limited and carefully focused subjects and images allow her to casually approach the present constructs where each expressive element is challenged and broken down, revealing the underlying fragility of our most common assumptions. A Tetralogy of Emancipation is an implication of four scenarios from four video installations, 2007-2009. It starts with an intimate family conversation about motherhood, while the eye of the camera is focusing on a ceiling fan which has become a bug in the dark. The metamorphosis is a reflection of the artist’s reaction to the conversation. In the second chapter, the natural choreography of a swaying canopy in a typhoon is captured. The intricate manipulations of the tempo and the replication of the image into a polytyph projection evoke something that could be described as a visual psychedelic fugue. The images of the third chapter recall a fictional memory of the moment before a hurricane hits the beach of the Atlantic Ocean and south Europe. The waves seem to never pull back and the sound of the waves, the screaming children and the surroundings becomes a sonic landscape of flow and disturbances. It captures a moment of suspended anticipation. In the last chapter, an illuminated skeleton is seen, while the puppeteer in the dark occasionally is sensed as a moving shadow, struggling toward some kind of co-existence. Joyce Ip has developed a distinctive visual language of small diligent agents and a disciplined focus that embrace the viewer's everyday life with an odd and eerie glow.
A Tetralogy of Emancipation by Joyce Ip, duration 15’20 min
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Eat for this is my Body by Michel-Ange Quay
Pedro Lasch and Miguel Rojas-Sotelo
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