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The artists of Haiti's Grand Rue, after the earthquake

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At the time of the earthquake I was being interviewed by a foreign journalist about the artists from this area. Then I began to see things shaking and everything started to shake. Then I ran outside. I went into a bit of a frenzy as it was the first time it felt so strong. It's not something I'm accustomed to. People were frantic, but I stayed calm. The Ghetto Biennale is a sort of artistic gathering where you bring together artists from all over--Europe, Africa--all over the world. It's a sort of union between artists. They come with the goal of helping other artists, as, especially in Haiti, it's not easy for us to travel and find other artists who are better known than ourselves. So they came to us. That's the Ghetto Biennale. We're in a ghetto. All the surrounding area is part of the ghetto. So we organised it for the artists in the area, to unite them, to make them understand their value. It's helped us understand that our work is of great value in the eyes of the outside world, of everybody, in fact. So that's the Ghetto Biennale. It's about the unification of artists who share a similar spirit, in one place. This was both the studio and workplace for the children. It's destroyed. This is the adults' studio. Eugene also has a room inside there. It's completely destroyed on the inside. During the earthquake there was a member of our community who was in a bar, enjoying himself and de-stressing from life in this country. Sometimes there's a certain kind of stress in this country so we'll have a few beers, me, Eugene and Louco. But he went alone this time, and the bar fell down, and he died. So one of us was a victim. He was a very cheerful person, a very good person. He even had a saying: when you asked him, "Louco, how's it going", he replied, "Well-behaved." That was his special saying. Indeed, it's affected us deeply, because we are all used to... We live like a family, it's as if we're blood relations. We live together. We live first as a community, then as a family. We need all kinds of support. Because we've all been victims of the disaster, and as a result we need everything, because we're now living outdoors, sleeping under the stars. There are children in need of nourishment and care. We'll need medicine. We'll need psychological help because many of the children are very shaken. The aftershocks, especially, make them scream. So they need psychological help. We need all sorts of help. As artists, especially in the case of the studio we need help in rebuilding. We'll need people to help us find places to safely store our artworks so that we can remove the fallen walls, blocks and all that. We'll need help to move the rubble and rebuild. And then, we simply need people to reach out to us. We need moral support. To say, don't be discouraged. That's what we really need, especially that.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 50 seconds
Country: Haiti
Language: English
Producer: Georgia Popplewell
Director: Georgia Popplewell
Views: 639
Posted by: georgiap on Jan 29, 2010

Grand Rue in Port-au-Prince Haiti is one of the city's most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, but also home to a vibrant community of artists who create stunning objects out of the discarded materials they find in their environment. The area was host to the first Ghetto Biennale in December 2009.

This video highlights the impact of the January 12 earthquake on the artists' surroundings and their way of life.

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