DEATH AND FERTILITY: Haiti Pavilion at 54th Venice Biennale

Haiti will be for the first time at the 54th Venice Biennale, one of the most relevant international art event in the world. In a website dedicated to the event, the pavilion is described as follows:

The exhibition DEATH AND FERTILITY will present the works of three artists from Port-au-Prince, who are a part of Atis-Rezistans, the artistic collective from the Grand Rue neighbourhood. The group, started in the mid-nineties, is based in a popular neighbourhood in the Haitian capital. The Haitian pavilion will be dedicated to Gede, the family of spirits, which in the Vodou religion, embody both death and fertility.

The focus on Gede was a curatorial choice which intends to highlight the artists’ meditation on the extremes of life and the elements in their work which allude to death and sexuality, reflecting the complexity of Vodou. The intersections, analogies, and the use of mirroring and double correspondences in the exhibition structure, will allow for a complex, yet engaging approach to understanding Gede.

The Haiti pavilion, which will host the exhibition Death and Fertility, will be made from two

“20-foot” freight containers or long shipping containers, placed perpendicularly to each other to form a Tau Cross. By choosing two standard colours, red and blue, in which commercially available containers come most of time, the pavilion will makes a reference to the Haitian flag.

Setting up an outdoor pavilion in a temporary structure such as sea freight containers relates to the social, national, cultural and economic issues apparent in Haiti, whose historical background has been marked by international trade and exploitation. It also reminder of the fact that the artists involved in this project come from a very poor district of Port-au-Prince which is situated close to the sea and port.

Both the containers, which correspond to the horizontal (red) and the vertical (blue) axes – will host a site-specific installation including artworks by André Eugene, Jean Hérard Celeur and Jean Claude Saintilus and will be the result of collaboration between the curators. The pieces will explore and identify aspects of the Gede family of spirits.
Central to the installation will be a collaborative piece of work by Celeur and Eugene. The piece entitled ‘The Horsemen of the Apolocalypse’ alludes to the triple tragdies of HIV, poverty and political unrest.

Edouard Duval-Carrié, speaeking to Agen France Presse reporters, called the Biennale “complete amazing”: “In Haiti, misery predominates. Sometimes we have to break that because our country is more complex than any other country. There is also art, culture. It’s important for our pride,” the artist told AFP.
His painting ― a skeleton in a silver suit against the backdrop of a luxuriant forest ― sits alongside equally macabre works by 14 Haitian artists for an exhibit entitled “Haiti: Kingdom of this World.”

The Biennale, which opened yesterday, runs through November 2011.
See the official site for the Pavilion at

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