Archive for the ‘Visual Art’ 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 »

Ti Atis – Youth Cultural Engagement. Bringing Haitian Culture to Children & Youth – by Jessica Tong, Programs & Outreach Coordinator 

08.25.15

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Ti Atis (Little Artists) is an in-school arts education program engaging youth of Haitian descent and their peers with Haitian history and heritage via the arts. The program gives young people ages 6-14 the tools to build an inclusive and culturally informed future as they learn about diverse art forms from professional Haitian artists. Our Youth Cultural Engagement programming consists of school-based and public offerings that increase appreciation of Haiti and its culture, promote positive cultural identity and self-image, facilitate cross-cultural dialogue, and cultivate an inclusive sense of community amongst young people.

This year, in partnership with Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP), HCX invited three artists to each create a 10-week arts residency which resulted in the following workshops: Creative Expression Through Movement with Maxine Montilus, Discovering the Music of the African Diaspora with Okai Fleurimont, and Community Mural Creation with Patrick Icart Pierre.   Over 60 students participated in these various workshops and were able to explore certain aspects of Haitian & Afro Diaspora culture while expressing their creativity through movement, painting, dance and music.

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Thanks to funding from Council Member Jumaane Williams administered by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, we were able to expand our Ti Atis program to P.S. 361 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

From April 14th – June 16th 2015, HCX implemented a 10-week pilot of Ti Atis programming at P.S. 361. The project was split into two sessions, Haitian Folkloric Dance/Movement and Storytelling and Songs of the Caribbean, and were taught to two separate assembly groups of second grade students for five weeks each. Both sessions were led by Riva Nyri Précil, a singer and dancer of Haitian descent who holds a Bachelors Degree in Music Therapy. Drummer Jean Marie Brignol assisted instruction of the Dance/Movement assemblies.

Additionally, we organized a number of workshops and assemblies in schools including at the Hewitt School with drummer Okai Fleurimont and Westbury Middle School with dancer Peniel Guerrier and his troupe.

We thank all of our Teaching Artists for their time and dedication.

If you would like these types of programs in your school or community, please contact regine@haiticulturalx.org

If you would like to be included in our online roster of teaching artists, please contact programs@haiticulturalx.org

Make a DONATION to our Youth Cultural Engagement programs and support the preservation of Haitian Culture & Heritage!

Read about the HCX Teaching Artists below:

Creative Expression Through Movement with Maxine Montilus

From October 7th to December 10th, HCX invited dancer Maxine Montilus to create a 10-week afterschool program at P.S. 189. With a B.F.A. in Modern Dance Performance from the University of the Arts, and an M.A. in Arts Management from City University London, her students had the opportunity to express themselves through the exploration of dance and written word. Through improvisational theater games, movement, and writing activities, students learned how to integrate choreography and poems/writings into a multi-disciplinary performance incorporating words, music and dance.  Some topics that were explored included identity, favorite things, and family.

Discovering the Music of the African Diaspora with Okai Fleurimont

From January 10th to March 18th, HCX invited musician Okai Fleurimont to create a 10-week afterschool program at P.S. 189. Okai has worked with many different community based organizations such as Hospital Audience Incorporate (HAI), WorldUp.org, and Hip Hop Saves Lives, teaching children how to write lyrics, produce a beat, and provides opportunities for youth to share their ideas and foster their creative development.  Students were taught how to play percussion instruments and given an introduction to the different African diaspora musical genres, learning the different rhythms and breaks and discovering how in depth music goes.  By giving students the knowledge of the history and struggle that influenced certain periods of time helps them better understand the music they listen to now.

Mural Creation with Patrick Icart Pierre

From March 20th to June 27th, HCX was happy to invite back Patrick Icart Pierre for a 10-week after school mural project at P.S. 189. Pierre has worked as an art teacher at the Harlem School of The Arts and currently works at M.S. 246 in Brooklyn New York, instilling his appreciation for art in the public school system. With the belief that murals give voice and presence to those communities and historical events often excluded in our society – women, people of color, gender issues, working class people, freedom fighters, etc. – participating students got a chance to understand that creating art is a way to go beyond the textbook and encourage everyone to get out into the community.  The completed mural incorporated local concerns, oral histories and photos, and other references, accessing the richness and wisdom of their communities, and students’ families.

Haitian Folkloric Dance and Movement with Riva Nyri Précil

From April 14th to June 16th, HCX invited musician Riva Nyri Précil for a 10-week, two session program for 2nd grade students at P.S. 361. With a degree in Music Therapy at Loyola University in New Orleans, and a completed Music Therapy internship at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, she has had the opportunity to teach music, art and movement to a wide variety of populations in diverse settings. Focusing on exposing Second Grade students to traditional Haitian folkloric dance, Précil provided an introduction to Haiti’s oral history through storytelling and folk songs.  With the first five weeks focusing on Haitian folkloric dance and movement, students had the opportunity to learn basic dance elements with an invitation to participate in a short performance.  The last five weeks focused on storytelling & songs of the Caribbean, students learned traditional songs and learned lessons through stories that include a moral.  Students were also invited to participate in a short performance.

Posted in Archive, Classes, Crafts, Dance, HCX Programs, Ti Atis, Visual Art, Youth Programs | No Comments »

Remembering 2010 | Film Screening with Associated Press Photojournalist Chery Dieu Nalio – by Keylah Mellon, Communications and Outreach Intern

07.08.15

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In partnership with 651 Arts, Haitian AP Photojournalist, Chery Dieu Nalio shared his craft with the HCX community Tuesday, June 30th. The program commemorated the 2010 earthquake, as Nalio presented his culminating project, Remembering 2010, from his Magnum Fellowship.

Every year the Magnum Foundation offers, in conjunction with NYU, scholarships to a six-week intensive fellowship program to explore strategies for creating effective visual stories with the aim of advancing Human Rights in their home countries. Nalio, now a Magnum Human rights fellow, was chosen amongst a myriad of applicants along with 6 other candidates hailing from Ukraine, Palestine, China, Syria, South Africa and the Philippines.

The evening started with a screening of Michèle Stephenson’s Haiti: One Day, One Destiny, a 20-minute feature on the emotional impact of the quake and the poignant stories of rebuilding efforts from the perspective of Haitians. A slide show of Nalio’s eye catching and carefully composed photography was then presented, followed by Remembering 2010. The 3-minute multi-media feature focused on Stéphanie Joseph, a thriving survivor of the earthquake. Narrated by Joseph, the piece recounts her experience during the disaster, the loss of her mother and her arrival in the United States through Nalio’s amazing eye. Culminating in pictures of Joseph’s graduation from Baruch College, the video ended on an inspiring note and Stephanie’s future plans to return to Haiti to assist with the positive transformation of the country. This opened up the floor for a great Q&A with both Michèle Stephenson and Chery Dieu Nalio. Interesting discussions among the program participants and artists revolved around power & empowerment and its relationship to Vodou, the situation between Haiti & the Dominican Republic, the presence of NGOs in the country, empowering the Haitian people, and the role of community to mention a few. Both films were conversation inducing as great art always is. HCX was very pleased to present Nalio’s work as we strive to give our community significant and inspiring art.

 

 

Posted in Archive, Arts, Events, Film, HCX Collaborations, HCX Programs, Photography, Public Forums, Visual Art | No Comments »

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