Ah! Qui me rendra mon pays Haiti
C'est toi mon seul paradis Haiti
Ah! Dieu me rappelle
Tes forêts si belles
Tes grands horizons
Loin de tes rivages
La plus belle cage
N'est qu'une prison
Oui!! Mon désir, mon cri d'amour Haiti – Josephine Baker, Haiti (1934)
In Sky over Port-au-Prince Haiti 12th January 2010, Jean-Ulrick Désert illustrates through astrological re-enactment an archeological study of a man-made disaster. It is a call to the pre-history of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake which struck 15 miles from the capital and resulted in the deaths of approximately 250,000 people, the injury of hundreds of thousands more and the destruction of an already desolate national infrastructure. It was an apocalyptic scene which owed its direction to the neo-liberal “structural adjustment” of the French and the North Americans. A subjugating economic programme which predates the structural adjustment programmes proffered upon the newly “independent” states of the 1950s and 1960s. As Noam Chomsky noted, for centuries, Haiti has been paying for its crime of self liberation.1
This artwork is also inadvertently a tale of two earthquakes, similar in magnitude, yet categorically dissimilar in their impact. 7.0 registered on the Richter scale in Haiti on Tuesday, the 12th of January, 2010 and 8.8 registered in Chile a month and a half later, with official tallies for the latter at approximately 500 casualties. What results is a portrait of a sky, cardinal red, over an island – one half green, one half brown. Approximately 750 embossed portraits of Josephine Baker “the Goddess” on white foil appear as white interruptions on a red sky. It bears an uncanny resemblance to an accumulation of white blood cells and seems to denote a malignancy and calls to a pre-existing condition. It questions the role of nature in the “natural disaster” and demands answers without particular discretion for their sources or inclinations – cosmic, religious, scientific, spiritual.
The Haitian Earth quake of 2010 killed more than a quarter of a million people. Additional notes and reflections are posted in the diary/blog of this website on *several Diary/Blog posts.
Text: Mokia Laisin
The Caged Bird Sings
Material & Format:
2012: Mixed media celestial map, embossed metal foil, velvet-paper, styrofoam, ±300cm x 300cm from 9 individual 100cm x 100cm panels