PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince, at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
Exhibition on view April 23 – August 11, 2019
In conjunction with Haitian Heritage Month, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami will present “PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince” which brings together the work of over 20 artists working in the Haitian capital. The exhibition features work that illuminates the history, music, politics, religion, magic, architecture, art, and literature that intersect in Port-au-Prince, enabling the viewer to reflect upon the past and speculate about the future of this vital city and its country.
Co-curated by Haitian-American artist and curator Edouard Duval-Carrié and British artist and curator Leah Gordon, PÒTOPRENS is a large-scale exhibition of sculptures, photographs, and films, accompanied by a recreated Port-au-Prince barbershop as well as extensive public programming.
The exhibition mirrors the organization of the city itself by highlighting specific districts in Port-au-Prince where art is produced—each with its own particular subjects, forms, and materials. Bel Air, situated on a hill that rises behind the remains of the Catholic Cathedral in downtown Port-au- Prince, has a rich concentration of Vodou flag artists and sequin sculptors—a tradition alleged to have originated from the royal flags and banners of Benin. Rivière Froide is a community of sculptors living on the banks of the river that passes through the city’s Carrefour neighborhood, who carve their work from limestone and other detritus found at the water’s edge. At the southern end of Grand Rue, the main avenue that runs north to south through downtown Port-au-Prince, artists make assemblages that transform the detritus of the world’s failing economies into apocalyptic images. Sculptors include Katelyne Alexis, Karim Bléus, Jean Hérard Céleur, Myrlande Constant, Lhérisson Dubréus, Ronald Edmond, André Eugène, Guyodo (Frantz Jacques), Ti Pelin (Jean Salomon Horace), Evel Romain, Jean Claude Saintilus, and Yves Telemaque.
The exhibition includes a selection of photographs and films that further contextualize Port-au-Prince as a far more complex city than is often represented in the news. Photographers Josué Azor, Maggie Steber and Roberto Stephenson portray the city as one of radical sexual politics, seductive interiors and informal economies, as well as loss and destruction. Meanwhile, the film series illustrates many decades of the city’s history, with a program including includes Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s Marché Salomon (2015), a poetic response to the lives of the market people of Port-au-Prince; and Jørgen Leth’s Dreamers (2002), a decades-long tribute to the last generation of Haitian artists.
Additionally, an installation pays tribute to Port-au-Prince’s innumerable barbershops, constructed and furnished with off cast materials and distinguished by vivid portraits of both foreign and domestic athletes, rappers, and models. Organized by Richard Fleming, the installation at MOCA features newly commissioned portraits by painter Michel Lafleur, and will provide visitors the opportunity to get a haircut from a Haitian barber.
“PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince” was organized by Pioneer Works, with special advisor Jean-Daniel Lafontant. The exhibition was made possible with generous support from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The presentation at MOCA is generously supported by the Green Family Foundation, Inc. Special thanks to Sharona El-Saieh. MOCA’s exhibitions and programs are made possible with the continued support of the North Miami Mayor and Council and the City of North Miami, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.
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DEADLINE EXTENDED UNTIL MIDNIGHT 10 MAY BST
THE HAITIAN REVOLUTION AND BEYOND
(11 Apr 2016) A collective of Haitian artists who have dubbed themselves Atis Rezistans have become celebrated in the international art world by creating striking sculptures out of scrapped car parts, cast-off toys and even human skulls found in crumbling mausoleums. One of those artists and a founding member of the collective is Andre Eugene, who recycles whatever useful scraps he can find to give a raw, physical shape to the spiritual world of Voodoo and weigh in on the country’s chronic political and economic troubles. Over the last decade, the work of Atis Rezistans has been exhibited in cities such as Paris, London, and Los Angeles. There are even sculptures included in the permanent collections of museums, including the Frost Art Museum in Miami. But Eugene says being famous has not improved his financial situation. “Imagine, I’m very famous here and then look at my situation. Look at my studio,” Eugene said from the concrete yard in a poor neighbourhood, shortly after returning to Haiti from an exhibit of a major piece in Milan. The Haitian artist hopes that the praise gathered for the group he founded with Celeur Jean-Herard, who has since departed the collective, can now translate into enough earnings to upgrade his yard’s musty museum and improve the lives of members.
Port-au-Prince is a polyphonic city declaring its cultural history via multiple voices. While its infrastructure is deeply compromised, the gap between rich and poor is immense, and the 2010 earthquake destroyed many of its major buildings, Port-au-Prince continues to be one of the most vibrant and creative cities in the Caribbean. Hence, PÒTOPRENS is not simply a survey show, nor is it a comprehensive snapshot of contemporary Haitian art. It is an exhibition that uses the city of Port-au-Prince as a lens through which to view the chaotic intersections of history, music, politics, religion, magic, architecture, art, and literature— to enable the viewer to reflect upon the past and speculate about the future of this vital city and its country. The first floor exhibition presents a diverse group of sculptures including sequined Vodou flags, stone and wood carvings, and found object assemblages, most of which have never before been seen in the United States. The sculptural installation mirrors the organization of the city itself by highlighting specific districts in Port-au-Prince where art is produced—each with its own particular subjects, forms, and materials. The neighborhood of Bel Air, situated on a hill that rises behind the remains of the Catholic Cathedral in downtown Port-au- Prince, has a rich concentration of Vodou flag artists and sequin sculptors—a tradition alleged to have originated from the royal flags and banners of Benin. Rivière Froide is a community of sculptors living on the banks of the river that passes through the city’s Carrefour neighborhood, who carve their work from limestone and other detritus found at the water’s edge. At the southern end of Grand Rue, the main avenue that runs north to south through downtown Port-au-Prince, is a close-knit community sited in the area that has traditionally produced small handicrafts for the ever-diminishing tourism market. Taking readymade and recycled materials from the makeshift car repair district nearby, the Grand Rue artists make assemblages that transform the detritus of the world’s failing economies into apocalyptic images. Sculptors include Katelyne Alexis, Karim Bléus, Jean Hérard Céleur, Myrlande Constant, Lhérisson Dubréus, Ronald Edmond, André Eugène, Guyodo (Frantz Jacques), Ti Pelin (Jean Salomon Horace), Evel Romain, and Yves Telemaque.
Three-parts interview with Haitian artist and Atis Rezistans founder Andre Eugine, filmed at his ‘E Pluribus Unum’ art museum in Grand Rue, Port-au-Prince.
In 2010, Giscard Bouchotte, current guest curator from Haiti, launched a project with artists and friends entitled “Connecting South”, the aim of which is to strengthen networks between the countries of the southern hemisphere. The project assumes that contemporary artistic expressions are universal and connect people. For the exhibition in the Salon Mondial, Giscard Bouchotte opens his archives and shows video works by two artists with whom he works repeatedly: Maksaens Denis (“Haiti Kingdom of this World”) and Michelange Quay (“The Ancestor”). In the compilation “Conspicious Invisibility”, twelve artists (Sergine André, Elodie Barthelemy, Mario Benjamin, Jean-Hérard Celeur, Maksaens Denis, Edouard Duval-Carrié, André Eugène, Frankétienne, Guyodo, Sébastien Jean, Killy, Tessa Mars, Pascale Monnin, Paskö, Barbara Prézeau, Roberto Stephenson, Hervé Télémaque) explore in their short works unspoken facts that determine current life in Haiti, although they have long since been forgotten – or have been made forgotten. The exhibition also features a painting series by Killy (Patrick Ganthier). Giscard Bouchotte is an independent exhibition curator, critic, and social entrepreneur. In 2011, he curated the Haitian Republic’s first Pavillion at the Venice Biennale with the exhibition Haiti Kingdom of This World (France, Italy, USA, Martinique, Haiti). His most recent projects include Périféériques, a travelling project exploring new artistic and social practicies in peri-urban spaces (Benin, Senegal, Haiti), and the Nuit blanche in Port-au-Prince, a plea for artists to be engaged in urban initiatives. His essays have appeared in Holland (Who More Sci-Fi Than Us? exhibit) and the US (Smithsonian, Biennals and Art Practices in the Caribbean). In Haiti, he develops workshops and has curated photographs by emerging artists in the Comoros Islands, and Guyana. He works with international public and private institutions in the Caribbean. Bouchotte has also produced and directed three films, Africa Left Bank (2006), Sarah’s Dreamed Life, (2007) and Tap Tap Chéri (2017). He has assisted French filmmaker Claire Denis (and acted in her 2008 35 Rhums), and French filmmaker Charles Najman.