Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

A Note on Lavi Miyò, Resistance & Revolisyon/Revolution – by Veroneque F. Ignace

01.06.16

Veroneque 2Consider these terms. Their definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster:
Resilience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
Resistance:  the ability to prevent something from having an effect
Power: a person or organization that has a lot of control and influence over other people or organizations
Empowerment: to promote the self-actualization or influence of

Consider the way in which these words are used. Apply them now to peoples of color, to the effects of institutionalized violence on them, and to their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

What have you come up with?

Perhaps a string of sentences building the personage of oppressed peoples as an embodiment of these words, in that we endure so much, yet, we persist. We persist because our histories paint pictures of strong willed black men and women who would do many things except take ‘no’ for an answer. We persist because we understand that the fight for equality is more that just that — it is war declared against those institutions and doctrines that are conspiring to systematically erase black faces from the past, present, and future.

In honor of 212 years of Haitian Independence celebrated at the beginning of the year with one oversized pot of the ceremonious and celebrated Soup Joumou (traditional pumpkin soup eaten to commemorate the victory of the Haitian Revolution), let us hone in on the stories of the Haitian community both on the island and beyond. Almost six years after the earthquake that devastated the country, many people still struggle to improve their conditions. From the continuous discordance in government, to the wavering efforts of the people to organize amidst discouragement, to the lack of proper waste disposal — all in conjunction with the struggle to bring in a steady income for food, education, etc. — challenges such as these are recurring, and especially evident in the most populated areas of the country’s capital.

Indefinitely, there are many facets to the issues that Haiti as a whole must tackle. Nonetheless, it is my contention that the first step begins with debunking the long-lived decree that Haiti is the prime incubator for resilient people, exemplifying the spirit of revolution in all that we do. Take heed, though, that to hold ideas of a future where Haiti becomes the place that my parents remember — and where being treated at L’Hopital General is not (said to be) determined by whether or not you, the patient, had access to your own gloves prior to admittance —inherently involves believing in and supporting an almost divine explanation for the capacity of your average Haitian to resist and empower. Still, I believe that we can and must do this without ignoring the unique, individual, and small incidents, and subsequent victories, that build towards those larger ideas we hold onto and cherish.

Lavi Miyò is to be my response to this dilemma. The argument at its foundation is the claim that blindly consuming the overarching and highly romanticized notions of resistance with regards to black peoples, and especially people of Haitian descent, disregards the day-to-day traumas that individuals experience, thereby belittling the journey to actually being whole and recovered persons. With the installation of this work-in-progress, done in collaboration with Haiti Cultural Exchange of Brooklyn, my hope is to engage in a first-time exchange with my own Brooklyn community, highlighting less the spirit of resistance and more the journey to becoming resistant as one individual and as a community member.

Lavi Miyò contains four sections tracing the stories of six performers, threading them together such that they become one. The point of this is to experiment with the boundaries between individuality and community. In doing so, we explore the ways in which we might reject the individual to favor maintaining a larger and all-encompassing idea of community. We aim to highlight our understanding that being a part of community is in no way synonymous with assimilation. In the same breath, we seek to explicate how giving value to individual stories of trauma and recovery does not belittle the grandiose image of community resistance and community revolutionary spirit.

Section one of the piece, ‘Birth/Naissance,’ focuses on the idea of beginnings. For example, in Vodou, the Afro-descended religion of Haiti, life begins anew when a person is an initiate. That person has the opportunity to engage in serious self-reflection ultimately leading them devote themselves to others, to prayer, to charity, to community, and to defending all of those things. Though we may define birth (i.e. where life begins) differently, the sentiment behind the idea is the same.

Section two, ‘Life/Vie,’ describes the trials and tribulations that we face everyday. Each dancer tells their individual story through movement while finding a niche in the one story being communicated through poetry. The beauty in the section is the commonality in the struggle and the process through which the dancers achieve potential success. Highlighting resistance — that you can, that sometimes you can’t, that it’s enough, and that sometimes it isn’t — is key.

Section three, ‘Death/Mort,’ discusses not only death for people, but also the death of tradition, culture, religion, and philosophy, with a particular focus on Vodou, as it is most paralleled to the identity of Haiti as revolutionary. The goal is to comment on the idea that although Afro-traditions provide us with many beautiful things, it does not mean that they are unaffected by misconceptions and by the institutions and systems working to target the livelihood of black people daily.

Section four, ‘Life-After/Au-delà,’ celebrates the spirit of community as the driver for pushing efforts toward resistance, resilience, empowerment, and ultimately liberation and recovery.

Consider these terms. Their definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster:
Community: a unified body of individuals
Recovery: the act or process of becoming healthy after an illness or injury
Liberation: the act or process of freeing someone or something from another’s control; the act of liberating someone or something
Peace: a state of tranquillity or quiet

Consider the way in which these words are used. Apply them now to peoples of color, to the effects of institutionalized violence on them, and to their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

What have you come up with?

This post was originally posted on January 1, 2016 on Resist N Restore.

Lavi Miyò | Dance Performance and An n’ Pale featuring Veroneque F. Ignace
DATE/TIME:
Friday, January 29th | 6-9pm
LOCATION:
Haiti Cultural Exchange
558 St. John’s Place | Brooklyn, NY | MAP
Take the 2, 3, 4, or 5 train to Franklin Ave.
ADMISSION:
$10 Suggested Donation

Posted in Arts, Dance, Uncategorized, Visual Art | No Comments »

A Screening of Cristo Rey & Purgatorio – by Keylah Mellon, HCX Communications & Outreach Intern

12.22.15

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BAM’s Peter Jay Sharp building was filled with a diverse crowd on Thursday, December 3rd for the screening of Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s Cristo Rey. Co-Presented by the Caribbean Film Academy and BAMcinematek, the main feature was preceded by a poignant short film, Pugatorio, by Haitian director Martine Jean.

Beautifully shot with deep vibrant colors and contrasts, the 12-minute movie revolves around Rosa Jean Louis and her daughter Soledad as they are questioned in a Dominican immigration office about their nationality and the authenticity of their papers despite being born in Dajabon. After being humiliated and degraded based on her Haitian sounding name and separated from her daughter, the film ends with her deportation and her crossing the border towards Haiti, a state that she knows nothing of.

While the latter film presents this almost inhumane facet of deportation in the strained Haitian-Dominican relations, Cristo Rey approaches this delicate subject in a different way.

Taking place in the slum of Cristo Rey, the story begins with Janvier, a first generation Haitian-Dominican (his mother is Haitian and father Dominican). The town is stricken by poverty, as well as an intense divide between Haitian immigrants and Dominicans, and is ruled by the drug lord El Baca.

The feature really explores and examines various aspects of what tarnishes the relationship between the people of Hispaniola: racism, prejudice, poverty, and most importantly misunderstanding.

The screening was followed by a discussion led by filmmaker Michèle Stephenson and Cristo Rey’s Director Leticia Tonos Paniagua. The most common comment was on the authenticity of the depections and Paniagua’s beautiful eye. HCX thanks all of those that came out to the screening! Special thanks to CAFA, and BAMCinématek.

Take a look at some photos here.

Posted in Archive, Arts, Events, Film, HCX Collaborations, Visual Art | No Comments »

Mesye, Dam, la Sosyete, Krik? Krak! – By Keylah Mellon, HCX Communications & Outreach Intern

11.11.15

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The transmission of customs and beliefs is vital to the sustainability of a culture. Cultural activist Allenby Augustin, of Haiti based cultural organization Akoustik Prod, joined us for a week-long arts residency where he engaged a number of artists of the Haitian Diaspora and kids of our afterschool youth arts engagement program at PS 189 in the mission of his organization: the preservation and promotion of Haitian traditional arts. The workshops led to our exhilarating event, Bann Konte: a Rara Storytelling Procession.

On a beautiful fall afternoon, the Crown Heights community gathered to celebrate the Haitian tradition of oral storytelling, songs and games. The program began at FiveMyles Gallery with Djarara, the low rumbling of drums, and the calling of the Konè. The storytellers followed with chanting “Legba nan Bayè a”, accompanied by the musicians and a very enthusiastic crowd.

A woman in a bright red dress took center stage: “Mesye, dam, la sosyete, Krik? Krak! My name is Michèle and I have come here to tell you a little story.” After Michèle Voltaire Marcelin’s wonderful tale of Who Will be King in the Republic of Port-au-Prince (spoiler: Haiti Remained without a King), the festive atmosphere of Rara was only accentuated by the demonstration of traditional games including “Wòch Mache” (walking rock) and chants of “Ewa! Ewa!” The procession then left the HCX home base, parading down Eastern Parkway in the mists of joyful dancing and invigorating melodies towards the Brooklyn Public Library.

The crowd was led to the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza by an animated Gede-like figure dressed from head to toe in a purple outfit: Goussy Celestin, our second storyteller. She captivated us in her rendition of Mimi Barthelemy’s Ti Fou and the 7 Horn Monster. Allenby Augustin then led participants in a game of “Kash Kash Liben”, a hide and seek type of game where one person stealthily hides a rock amongst the players, while a designated player tries to figures out who has the object.

The last part of the procession headed to Berg’n where Schneider Laurent, Guy Guyt and Lovely Kermonde gave an expressive and intense performance reflecting on Haiti’s political, cultural and social situation, leaving us to ponder as Djarara swayed us with their last performance of the night.

Thank you to Allenby Augustin, Goussy Celestin, Schneider Laurent, Michèle Voltaire Marcelin, our funders! Tradition was the focus with HCX’s Bann Konte and we thank all who attended, came to support and helped take the streets of Crown Heights on Sunday, November 1st with traditional games, folktales and rara music.

Click here to see pictures from the event!

Posted in Archive, Arts, Dance, Events, HCX Collaborations, HCX Programs, Music, Photography, Weekend | No Comments »

Transmission of Memory – by Keylah Mellon, HCX Communications & Outreach Intern

10.21.15

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Haiti has a long history of forgetting. Or should I say erasing? Part of what it means to move forward, however, is to understand our past. HCX is highlighting a couple of institutions that have taken on the task of reminding the Haitian people of their past, the adversities they’ve triumphed over, and the consequences of our actions as a people in order to create avenues for remembrance: an opportunity to understand our current condition as a Nation. In a way, the following organizations are offering us ways of moving forward — should we choose to. We applaud and value their efforts.

Akoustik Prod

Akoustik Prod. is a cultural association created 2010, with the mission to actively contribute to the development and the promotion of Haitian art, culture and tradition. They host Krik Krak Festival, a program that was created to allow Haitians to return to traditional values ​​and have a better understanding of their culture. Participants have the opportunity to discover or rediscover, traditional songs, stories, dances and games.

CIDIHCA

CIDIHCA is a a documentation center in Montreal that provides documentation on Haiti and on the African diasporas to as wide an audience as possible. CIDIHCA has become a place of reference. The CIDIHCA library has assembled a substantial body of magazines, newspapers and documents. The CIDIHCA also has a video library , a large collection of microfilms on the history of Haiti and an important collection of Haitian literature accessible to researchers and students. The CIDIHCA is working to build a sound library music (popular and scholarly) produced in Haiti and in the diaspora .

FOKAL

Created in 1995, the Fondation Connaissance et Liberté / Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libète (Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty), is a well recognized national foundation supported mainly by Open Society Foundations, OSF, a world wide network of foundations and initiatives created by philanthropist George Soros for the promotion of democratic values. FOKAL also receives support from the European Union and the French cooperation. The Foundation offers to local communities throughout the country and to organizations of civil society a large spectrum of activities in the fields of education, arts and culture and development.

Fondation Mémoire

Fondation Mémoire is dedicated to the preservation of the culture and heritage of Haiti. They assist in the identification, preservation and maintenance of significant artifacts of the Haitian national heritage, encompassing documents, artifacts, monuments, sites, persons, and historical figures.

Haiti Devoir de Mémoire  

Fordi9 is intended to introduce Fort-Dimanche, the most infamous political prison in Haiti during the Duvalier’s era (1957 – 1986). The organization aims to immortalize in its Chronicle, the thousands who suffered, were victimized and perished during the repressive regime.

Haiti Lutte Contre l’Impunité 

The project “Haiti fights against impunity”, conceived as a virtual library accessible on the Web, has a given mission to inform on the nature and scope of the system of impunity in Haiti. The project offers, particularly to the younger generations, documents based on real facts, events that took place in Haiti, and whose analysis sheds light on the mechanisms and forms of impunity since the rise of the Duvalier regime in 1957 until today.

The Jean Dominique Archives

The Radio Haiti Archive, housed in the Human Rights Archive at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, is an invaluable resource for scholars, educators, and members of the public interested in twentieth-century Haitian politics, society, and culture. The project houses the preservation of the comprehensive archives of Radio Haïti-Inter, the voice of Haitian democracy from the station’s genesis in the 1960s to its closure in 2003.

The Toussaint Louverture Cultural Foundation

The Toussaint Louverture Cultural Foundation’s purposes are to promote Haitian culture, stimulate artistic creativity, and support Haitian cultural activities in Haiti and in the United States.

 

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