The Unseen Haiti

An exhibit of contemporary sculpture will change your view of Haitian art

The material aspect of these pieces is fascinating.

One keeps wondering: How can anyone recycle garbage and turn it into good art?

Isn't recycling a reflection of the socio-economic reality of Haiti?

Pierrot Barra's Sen Jak
Pierrot Barra's Sen Jak


Through December 5.305-348-2890.
Frost Art Museum, Florida International University, SW 107th Ave and 8th Street.

Absolutely. Take the metal work's source -- recycling oil drums, which is unique. You have cultural and religious aspects. Then you also have an aesthetic concern in the compositions. Some are very minimal, some very intricate, like the work of Serge Jolimeau.

Let's talk about the work of Jean Herard Céleur.

Oh, he's amazing. Motorcycle frames, car parts, skulls -- you can see how important raw materials are for him. They are the protagonists. Then you have these huge sculpted phalluses.

Conveniently hidden in the back.

[Laughter] Céleur is a young artist living in Grand Rue, a slum of Port-au-Prince. He creates literally out of trash the most sophisticated collage work, and he's sculpting. A very self-conscious process going on here: The phallus is addressing sexuality and life and death, and [in vodou mythology] it's also a trickster.

Those big phalluses take some carving.

They are huge in scale, which is comical. They're almost charging at you. He takes much effort in creating these pieces out of wood, so that he relies less on the assemblage part, because there's so much already that he brings up with his own technique. The phallus is in all the categories of the show. This is a pervasive symbol in many cultures, but it comes back, in Céleur's work, with a contemporary focus and in a very bold and ironic way.

I liked Murat Brierre's metal pieces. Do you have a favorite piece?

If I had to pick three artists they would be Barra, Nasson, and Céleur.

That huge boat by Nasson is some piece.

I stopped today by Eddy Steinhauer's boxes. And I don't remember having seen much of birds in Haitian art. His part-bird, part-man assemblages are very sinister. I find them quite interesting. There's something new to discover each day.

You've tried to break stereotypes here.

I'd like people to think about Haitian artists differently. They're not necessarily in search of African roots or vodou. This is something that Mario Benjamin [who also has an installation in the show] made me aware of. He introduced me to the art of Céleur, Eugene, and Guillaudo, who are making bold statements, recycling but in a different manner. Mario was very important for me in realizing how to break away from stereotypes.

Congratulations for such a handsome exhibit.


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