Archives for category: haiti

Jean Baptiste Jean Joseph, Voudoun artist at his home, Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, February 4, 2017

Jean Baptiste is one of the finest artists I have met in Haiti, and his work opens magical windows into his faith and voudoun. I felt it. And was sorely tempted to ask him about dolls… but decided not to. Messing with demons must come at a high price, even if they commute between NYC and DC while living in the twittersphere.

Sorting Coffee, Baptiste, Haiti, May,2013

Sorting Coffee, Baptiste, Haiti, May, 2013

Ziko Jeromè scooping water out of a dried up river bed for his

Ziko Jeromè scooping water out of a dried up river bed for his animals during a drought, Bois Jolie, Haiti, February, 2016.

 

Marie Olen, at dawn, outside Charts Building, Zanmi Lasante, Can

Marie Olen, at dawn, outside Charts Building, Zanmi Lasante, Cange, Haiti. May, 2015.

From the song by Pedro Louis Ferrer, Ay Mariposa:

sé que en el mundo hay dolor,
pero no es dolor el mundo.

The song is in the sound track of an exquisite and poignant film by Julian Schnabel, “Before Night Falls“.

Love is at the center, it connects consciousness to survival, and so often, we are most unkind when others are forbidden to do what is most human – to love. I have had the great honor of being allowed to love all of the people through these past few portraits, to love as an act of communing and sharing a gaze, as being allowed in, even for a few moments. Yet, even gazes are prohibited most times.

There is pain in the world,
but the world is not painful.

Jibenson Jeremie, at home. Bois Jolie, Haiti. May, 2015

Jibenson Jeremie, at home. Bois Jolie, Haiti. May, 2015

in between worlds.
entire globes, bouncing against each other, not colluding, all colliding. an academic describes the lives of haitian peasants to me. i don’t recognize them.
i know another haiti; where these same peasants work the land with intelligence, and have a sense of how to care for it, like their bodies.
another haiti whose real illness is in the city,
where the rich have little sense of what they have, and for whom the peasant is just a fictionalized reality.
and here too, my riches, my smart, far seeing, all sighted academic,
my teachers and colleagues
meander across very real landscapes, but all live in the dread
possibility that their meanderings are fiction,
mere fiction.
not the fiction, broule or boule, of platonov (dhzan).
another, a fictional fiction.

i feel caught in between.
a wall, a fly swat.
a dust mote, just so, between turbulences,
shimmering, but not going,
just visible
because the light is rightly placed.

it will pass. night. the air flows, invisible.

Jean Phillipe Saintilus at home. Bois Jolie, Haiti. May, 2015

Jean Phillipe Saintilus at home. Bois Jolie, Haiti. May, 2015

A wonderful artist, farmer, cabinetmaker, musician and
father.

Jiflore Jean, , at home. Blanchard, Haiti. May, 2015

Jiflore Jean, at home. Blanchard, Haiti. May, 2015

In the wake of yet another swarm of murder and ill-will,
anger and grace, this time in Charleston, SC, I can’t help but wonder:

How far have we come?

Can we go further?

Will we always enslave our selves?

Bondage from freedom, or freedom from bondage…

…this is a culture of bigots and blindness, and while changing the gun-control laws may help, it won’t make much difference until the US government looks after its people: funding health care, education and civic and social services.

No wonder some people who have it all cannot sleep at night;
and sadly, too many of us sleep all day long. The real zombies.

I wake up when I make portraits like this. And they stand as cynosures reminding me to be kind, patient, considerate, impassioned, and wanting less while seeking more.

Most of this morning was spent gazing across water,
from a place that honors one of my childhood heroes.
How far have we come?

Kendy Delui, at Marie Eliassant's house. Blanchard, Haiti. May,Kendy Delui, at Marie Eliassant’s house. Blanchard, Haiti. May, 2015

Edline Jean, at home. Blanchard, Haiti. May, 2015

 

Edline Jean, at home. Blanchard, Haiti. May, 2015

I am caught up in a discussion about portrayal versus being. The former, which recently manifests in the good work done by Roger May in Appalachia, leaves me puzzled in relation to this other understanding I have: ‘being’ is, well, not a portrayal.

By not a portrayal, I mean: not dualistic – me looking at (a photograph of) you, you (abstracted in the photograph) looking at me, that there are oppositional truths, one refuting the other. Nor do I mean pluralistic: that there may be several core truths or substances, neither validating or disqualifying the others. And now we begin to feel the problem, I hope. The very idea of portrayal grows from a matrix that forms itself around a blind spot. This matrix, or network of thinking, is made of dualism, pluralism, monism (that there is only a singularity) and all related paradigms. What about the blind spot itself? Zeroism (don’t bother running an online search on this one; no one is home)? Probably. Zen. Or just, Being-ism?

There’s this wonderful joke that ends with ….”the unlightable bareness of Bing.” But I am also thinking of Kundera’s work, to which the joke about Bing Crosby refers, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” I think, in some ways, Kundera may also have being trying to express that blind spot.


The joke goes something like this:

Bing Crosby is preparing for his farewell concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It is a really big deal, with hundreds of glitterati attending and many speeches and accolades planned as a part of the event. The media is hopping. The rehearsals have gone well and Bing’s peers and younger colleagues are rippling with emotion and excitement. This is going to be a great show. The stage crew is pumped and stressed: it is a complex program with many set changes. But Bing is calm, and his usual smooth and professional demeanor is spreading out to those around him.

All is good. Thirty minutes before curtains go up, a message is relayed to the Stage Manager: Bing is insisting that he performs in the nude. Mouths pucker, eyebrows are raised, people nod sagely, and as the message moves through the team, yeah, cool idea, they all say. What a great, and brave way to go out, says the Producer, as she approves. It reaches the Stage Manager, and back comes a firm, no.

Back and forth. People try to change the SM’s mind, but no. No. No. Minutes before the show is scheduled to begin, the Producer, as patiently as possible, but quite annoyed by the SMs stubbornness, asks, why? Well… says the SM, I simply cannot do this – Bing is not made for that kind of exposure… you see, it really is all about the …. and up there, is the punch line. Sorry!

 

Gisland Jean, at home. Blanchard, Haiti. May, 2015

Gisland Jean, at home. Blanchard, Haiti. May, 2015

I have just about finished reading Ileana Rodríguez’ challenging and thought provoking book, ‘Transatlantic Topographies: Islands, Highlands and Jungles’. There is much to work through for me with her ideas, especially as I really don’t know where I place myself, if at all, on the colonial to post-colonial scale (dare I call it a continuum?). In the aftermath (I’m being naughty) of post-colonial study, do “colonial lies, exploitation and ethnocide”[1] leave any room for apprehending and comprehending different natures in terms of “aesthetics, beauty or sensibility”[2]?

The key matter here is that of different natures I think, and that the perennial function of the aesthetic endeavor may be to reconcile the collision zones between them. Colonial history is certainly defined by such collisions.

Is Gisland smiling at me?

Are you smiling at the difference between similar areas of mid-tone in front of and behind her?

[1] Rodriguez, p. xv,  Introduction

[2] Rodriguez, p. xviii, Introduction

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