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Death and Fertility – The Art of Haiti 2020

| October 16, 2020 | 0 Comments
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Death and Fertility – The Art of Haiti

Counterposed against the conceptual excess and indulgence of Venice Biennale is the national pavilion of Haiti, one of the countries making its first appearance at the international art extravaganza. The Haiti Pavilion is just this: two shipping containers, one red and one blue, the colors of the Haitian flag. Not far away floats an enormous yacht owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, a man whose personal fortune exceeds Haiti’s Gross Domestic Product. Laugh, cry or shrug.

Inside is an  exhibition of sculptural works by Jean Hérard CeleurAndré Eugène and Jean Claude Saintilus. All three are members  of the Atis-Rezistans collective, from the Grand Rue neighborhood in Port-au-Prince.  Titled Death and Fertility, the Haiti Pavilion show is dedicated to Gede, a raucous family spirits in the Vodou religion who personify both the ancestral dead and sexual regeneration. So a double juxtaposition, in both setting and theme,  provides the platform upon which the identity of disaster-ravaged Haiti presents itself to sparkling Venice.

The art inside the shipping containers is immediate and expressive. Nearly all of the works are sculptures assembled from scavenged materials–for the most part pieces of junked consumer items, car parts, fragments of personal effects. The representational gestures are often brilliant. Allegory co-exists comfortably with specific contextual references. With little formal training, the Atis-Rezistans artists produce work of a quite different sort than much of Biennale has to offer–but it would be a mistake to overstate that difference. The art is critical, nuanced and alive. It probably means more than most.

Untitled Three Figures on Motorcycles Jean Herald Celeur Haiti
Three Figures on Motorcycles Jean Herald Celeur
Haitian Pavillion Venice Biennale 20111
Haiti Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2011
Death and Fertility
Haiti Pavilion, Death and Fertility

Haiti Pavilion images copyright Peter Doby, via Hyperallergic

Atis Rezistans

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Titled Death and Fertility, the Haiti Pavilion show is dedicated to Gede, a raucous family spirits in the Vodou religion.

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