[artinfo] Call for 4th Ghetto Biennale 2015

e-artnow info at e-artnow.org
Sat Apr 18 10:01:15 CEST 2015

Call for 4th Ghetto Biennale 2015

A call for artists and curators

After the Haiti Revolution, the formerly enslaved 
peasants had three tools for their 
'counter-plantation' position - the Kreyòl 
language, the Lakou system and the belief-system 
and ritual practices of Vodou, a triumvirate of 
linguistic, territorial and cultural resistance. 
Laurent Dubois, writing in 'Haiti: The 
Aftershocks of History', notes that, 'thanks to a 
remarkably strong and widely shared set of 
cultural forms - the Kreyòl language, the Vodou 
religion, and innovative ways of managing land 
ownershipŠ- they built a society able to resist 
all forms of subjection that recalled the days of 

The language of Kreyòl, which was born in the 
colonial plantations, began as a basic and rough 
method of linguistic communication between the 
culturally and geographically diverse populations 
of the colony. After the slaves revolt Kreyòl 
became a language of resistance and retreat from 
the metropolitan state, which continued to use 
French as the lingua franca of power and capital.

Vodou is a creolised religion forged by African 
slaves and their descendants which is comprised 
of elements from a wide range of diverse 
religious practices including many African 
traditions from the Fon, Dahomean, Kongo, Yoruba, 
and other African ethnic groups; Christianity and 
of the indigenous Taino Indians who were the 
original inhabitants of the region. As Dubois 
comments, 'As they suffered together through the 
trauma of plantation life, Africans and creoles 
developed their own rituals of healing, mourning 
and worship.'

The Lakou is a sub-altern land management system 
in the rural provinces of Haiti which refers to 
clusters of houses around a yard which house 
extended and multi-generational families, forms 
of land management and ownership which attempted 
to resist the return to the plantations and 
co-operative labour and trade practices. As 
Dubois wrote, 'In order to preserve that control, 
the Lakou system established its own set of 
customs to regulate land ownership and land 
transfers. The state had no part in these 
transactions, which were overseen entirely by 
community and family institutions.'

Vodou is a contested theme in studies of 
Caribbean and Haitian art. Current discourse 
interrogates both auto-exoticism by Haitians, and 
the 'othering' of outsiders. Important concerns 
include the appropriation of the impoverished 
peasant or ghetto culture as an essentially 
neo-colonialist strategy, and the precarious 
position of Haitian art in general, trapped as it 
is between the historically marketable 'naïf' or 
'primitive' Vodou-celebrating tendency, and a 
contemporary desire to take its place on the 
stage of the international global art world.

We welcome projects that incorporate language, 
dialogues, place, symbolism and performance or 
consider global territorial struggles, forms of 
linguistic refusal and friction, and ritual and 
esoteric forms of obstruction and intransigence. 
The Ghetto Biennale invites artists and curators 
to explore what potentials these radical tools, 
Kreyòl, Vodou and the Lakou, have to offer to the 
contemporary world.

The 4th Ghetto Biennale 2015 will take place from 
the end of November until the middle of December 
2015, the exact dates to be confirmed. All works 
must be made and exhibited in Haiti. Artists and 
curators will be invited to pass, no less than 
one, to three weeks in Haiti before presenting 
their work in the neighbourhood to an audience of 
local people, Port au Prince neighbourhood 
communities, arts collectives and arts 

The deadline for proposal applications is 
midnight Sunday 5th July BST and our decisions 
will be made and announced by the end of the 
third week in July.

Applicants for the 4th Ghetto Biennale 2015 must 
provide a written synopsis of their project 
proposal covering conceptual background, 
methodology, and a production and exhibition 
strategy for the proposed new work on no more 
than two sides of A4 including illustrations, and 
a one page CV, all formatted as pdfs. We will not 
accept any proposal longer than two sides, no 
attached images and neither will we accept 
website links as a proposal component.

Please keep in mind that we are looking for works 
that will be created during the three-week period 
in Port au Prince, Haiti. We are not looking for 
work that is already created. We welcome projects 
that may require collaboration with local artists 
and would be able to help connect artists 

There is no funding for this event and you will 
be expected to cover the cost of your flight, 
accommodation and materials. We will supply a 
reading list, there is a film about the Grand Rue 
sculptors on-line and we will be more than happy 
to help (via email) with any research and 
information needed, both before your application 
and leading up to the event. Advice can also be 
given about the practicalities for the production 
of specific projects and budgeting for the trip. 
If your work involves intensive interviews we 
will advise you to budget for your own 
translator. Artists should be aware that Haiti 
has only a 50% literacy rate and text heavy 
projects could be problematic for the local 
audience. We can help organise all hotel 
bookings, airport pick-ups and internal transport.

The Ghetto Biennale remains a lens-free event for 
none-Haitian artists so no video and photography 
projects will be considered, but there will be a 
photographer on site to document the projects at 
the end of the event for anyone needing images 
for documentation.

'The Sculptors of Grand Rue' can be viewed at 

Find more information about Atis-Rezistans visit 

Check out the project archives of the previous 
Ghetto Biennales 

Enquiries, applications & questions contact: Leah Gordon

Leahgordon at aol.com
Leah Gordon
Phone: 02079212223

Atis Rezistans
622 Blvd Jean-Jacques Dessalines

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