Opening reception: Friday, April 26, from 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition on view April 23 – August 11, 2019
In conjunction with Haitian Heritage Month, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami will present “PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince” which brings together the work of over 20 artists working in the Haitian capital. The exhibition features work that illuminates the history, music, politics, religion, magic, architecture, art, and literature that intersect in Port-au-Prince, enabling the viewer to reflect upon the past and speculate about the future of this vital city and its country.
Co-curated by Haitian-American artist and curator Edouard Duval-Carrié and British artist and curator Leah Gordon, PÒTOPRENS is a large-scale exhibition of sculptures, photographs, and films, accompanied by a recreated Port-au-Prince barbershop as well as extensive public programming.
The exhibition mirrors the organization of the city itself by highlighting specific districts in Port-au-Prince where art is produced—each with its own particular subjects, forms, and materials. Bel Air, situated on a hill that rises behind the remains of the Catholic Cathedral in downtown Port-au- Prince, has a rich concentration of Vodou flag artists and sequin sculptors—a tradition alleged to have originated from the royal flags and banners of Benin. Rivière Froide is a community of sculptors living on the banks of the river that passes through the city’s Carrefour neighborhood, who carve their work from limestone and other detritus found at the water’s edge. At the southern end of Grand Rue, the main avenue that runs north to south through downtown Port-au-Prince, artists make assemblages that transform the detritus of the world’s failing economies into apocalyptic images. Sculptors include Katelyne Alexis, Karim Bléus, Jean Hérard Céleur, Myrlande Constant, Lhérisson Dubréus, Ronald Edmond, André Eugène, Guyodo (Frantz Jacques), Ti Pelin (Jean Salomon Horace), Evel Romain, Jean Claude Saintilus, and Yves Telemaque.
The exhibition includes a selection of photographs and films that further contextualize Port-au-Prince as a far more complex city than is often represented in the news. Photographers Josué Azor, Maggie Steber and Roberto Stephenson portray the city as one of radical sexual politics, seductive interiors and informal economies, as well as loss and destruction. Meanwhile, the film series illustrates many decades of the city’s history, with a program including includes Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s Marché Salomon (2015), a poetic response to the lives of the market people of Port-au-Prince; and Jørgen Leth’s Dreamers (2002), a decades-long tribute to the last generation of Haitian artists.
Additionally, an installation pays tribute to Port-au-Prince’s innumerable barbershops, constructed and furnished with off cast materials and distinguished by vivid portraits of both foreign and domestic athletes, rappers, and models. Organized by Richard Fleming, the installation at MOCA features newly commissioned portraits by painter Michel Lafleur, and will provide visitors the opportunity to get a haircut from a Haitian barber.
“PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince” was organized by Pioneer Works, with special advisor Jean-Daniel Lafontant. The exhibition was made possible with generous support from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The presentation at MOCA is generously supported by the Green Family Foundation, Inc. Special thanks to Sharona El-Saieh. MOCA’s exhibitions and programs are made possible with the continued support of the North Miami Mayor and Council and the City of North Miami, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.