Black lives in a global context - Haiti beyond the headlines
Haiti - Beyond the Headlines - Black Lives in a Global Context
Across the world, people know very little about Haiti, a small country located on the Western part of an island in the Caribbean, neighbouring the Dominican Republic. People who have heard about Haiti, typically remember devastating events, such as the earthquake of January 2010 or of August 2021, the cholera epidemic, or various hurricanes that wreaked havoc on the island nation. Many people know that Haiti is a very poor country, but it is less known that it is the only one which successfully fought off colonial oppression through a slave revolution. It became independent in 1804, second in the Atlantic region, after the United States.
The vast majority of information the North American public encounters about Haiti is filtered through the lens of either the news media, or nonprofit organizations. As a result, the visual representation of Haitians has been limited to sensational or victimizing frames, with a few exceptions in the field of dance or fine art. Most stories about Haiti, both visual and written, are based on perspectives saturated with North-American cultural meanings, with judgement and references born in a foreign context - an approach that evokes pity, rather than empathy, the recognition of individual agency.
When taking pictures over the past years in Haiti, I consciously chose situations and/or visual interpretations that actively resist the sensationalized suffering or outrage provoking visuals of mainstream journalistic accounts, and also the redemptive framework of missionary and NGO campaigns. The purpose of my images is not to deny, be it hardship, deprivation or political upheaval, but to construct a new frame, a more complex one, focused on the daily realities of individual human beings whose life plays out behind the headlines. Focus on life as lived by Haitians routinely, reaching for more every day.