Haitian Compas Festival attendee Kaysina Claudio dances with her Haitian flag at Mana Wynwood on May 19, 2018. The annual event is the premier showcase for Haitian music and culture in the United States.
When British artist/curator Leah Gordon reached out to Haitian-born painter and sculptor Edouard Duval-Carrié a few years ago for help curating an exhibit focused on the city of Port-au-Prince, Gordon left a lot to the imagination.
But she also knew what she wanted.
“The concept she outlined was to organize a very ambitious presentation of the city of Port-au-Prince and identify within its confines, poles of cultural production focusing on the visual arts,” said Duval-Carrié, recalling their conversation.
Duval-Carrié, who was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, knew exactly where to go to bring Gordon’s vision to life: Grand Rue, the capital’s grand street where junk, scraps and automobile parts are transformed daily into expressions of everyday life in Haiti, and where Haitian art has undergone a rebirth.
“The apocalyptic vision they present to us in their powerful sculptures is a far cry from the production that has characterized Haitian art production in the decades prior,“ Duval-Carrié said about Grand Rue’s homespun artists.
That vision is part of the large-scale exhibition, “PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince,” being featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami. Curated by Duval-Carrié, Gordon and others, it brings together the works of 20 Haitian artists. Their work includes sculptures, photographs, films and a recreated Port-au-Prince barbershop, all highlighting the capital’s street life and religious heritage. Together they provide a portrait of a historical city in flux, and Haiti’s chaotic intersections of history, art, religion, politics scene and cultural shifts.
“We selected the works from informal collectives of majority class artists creating art works from specific zones of production within the city making works, which are bound together by shared cultural and material practices,” said Gordon.
The exhibit, she added, “is envisioning Haitian contemporary art production through the lens of the city of Port-au-Prince.”
Echoing Gordon’s sentiments, Duval-Carrié said the artists being exhibited “are responding to the spiraling collapse of the Haitian economy and by extant the expanding divide between North and South.
“We hope that not only the general public but in particular the Haitian expatriates living in Miami may realize that artists such as the Grand Rue collective are engaged in discussions that situates them at the core of the North-South dilemma and that their production illustrates very forcefully the disparities that are creating a most untenable situation worldwide,” he said.
The exhibit will run until Aug. 11. The cost of viewing the exhibit at MOCA is free for members and $10 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.
The exhibit is one of many displays of Haitian art and culture that will be available next month when South Florida celebrates Haitian Heritage month.
Haitian Heritage Month Events
May 2, 5-9 p.m.: Dance to the rhythms of Little Haiti Rara Lakay, and DJ Gardy’s blend of konpa, rara with electronic and house beats during Community Night at Pérez Art Museum Route 1804: The Evolution of the Flag and the Beat. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Free
May 3, 3-6 p.m.: A free cultural Conversation at the Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr. Miami Beach. Join several prominent members of the South Florida community as they discuss life as a “hyphenated” American of Caribbean descent.
May 10, 7 p.m.: Enjoy a curated experience with ROUTE 1804, Evolution: The Flag at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, 212 NE 59th Terr., Miami. Free
May 16, 10 p.m.-4 a.m.: Miami Haitian Compas Festival Welcome to Miami Hang Out Thursday party, featuring Enposib, Magik Kenny, Dj Bullet, Valmix, DJ FMA, Ted Bounce. Cafe iguana Pines, 8358 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. Cost is $30 in advance, more at the door. For tickets go to eventbrite.
May 16, 8-midnight: The Citadel food hall at 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami will host konpa on the rooftop with Haitian musician, MikaBen and local DJs. The free event will also feature food and conversation.
May 17, 6-11 p.m.: Sounds of Little Haiti at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, 212 NE 54th St., featuring System Band. The free outdoor concert will also celebrate Haitian Flag Day, May 18.
May 17, 10 p.m.-4 a.m.: Miami Haitian Compas Festival, Black Party featuring Djakout #1, Zenglen, Kai, Roody Roodboy. Cafe Iguana Pines, 8358 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. Cost is $40 in advance. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.
May 17, 10 p.m.-5 a.m:, Miami Haitian Compas Festival, Black Party featuring Harmonik, Vayb, Nu Look, Kreyol La. Wynwood Factory, 55 NE 24th St., Miami. Cost is $40 in advance. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.
May 18, 4 p.m-6 a.m: The 21st annual Haitian Compas Festival returns to Mana Wynwood, Midtown Miami, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. The event features the top bands in Haitian konpa music. Cost is $50 in advance for general admission, $100 VIP. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite or call 305-945-8814.
May 18, 10 pm.-4 a.m.: Haitian Compas Festival after party featuring Kai, Enposib at Club Reign, 9940 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. Cost is $40 in advance. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.
May 19, 10 p.m.-4 a.m.: Haitian Compas Festival All White Affair featuring Vayb, Nu Look, Harmonik, Tony Mixx and DJ Heavy at Cafe Iguana Pines, 8358 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. Cost is $40 in advance. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.
May 20, 10 p.m.-4 a.m.: Haitian Compas Festival GoodBye Miami party featuring Zenglen, T-Vice and Gabel at at Cafe Iguana Pines, 8358 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. Cost is $30 in advance. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.
May 25, 7 p.m.: Haitian American Leadership Organization (HALO) 14th annual HALO Cultural Night celebrating Haitian women in the history of Haiti and featuring konpa band, T-Vice. Cost is $175 for general admission and $225 for VIP, JW Marriott Ballroom, 1109 Brickell Ave., Miami. Tickets can be purchased at www.halohaiti.org/tickets/