Haitian arts fest continues in Brooklyn

Haitian arts fest continues in Brooklyn|Haitian arts fest continues in Brooklyn
Dancer Makerson Francois performs during a session by the Compagnie de Danse Jean-Rene Delsoin at the Haitian arts festival.
Katherine Freshwater

It’s their first time in New York! On Sunday, June 10, for the dance-loving community, Haiti-based Compagnie de Danse Jean-René Delsoin will be offering an energetic, full afternoon of dance at Brooklyn’s Mark Morris Dance Center.

A featured event of Haiti Cultural Exchange’s two-month Haitian arts fest — Selebrasyon! (www.haiticulturalx.org/selebrasyon), the company founder Jean-René will give a master class at Mark Morris at noon, followed at 3 pm by a full-length performance and artists’ talk.

Jean-René trained in Haiti, in Jamaica, at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and has international dance credits. In 2004, he formed his own dance center as well as a company project. Now called the Compagnie de Danse Jean-René (COJRD), the company brings Haiti’s richness of cultural expression and dances to the world. Tickets are available for what should be an exciting afternoon.

In addition to Selebrasyon! — which is entering its fourth week — visual installations by Haiti-based artists, as well as performances by Haitian dance companies, abound.

Maksaens Denis’ multi-media video projection, mounted on a cross in the outer gallery of FiveMyles gallery (through July 1), focuses on the positive — love. The audio-visual artist explained his desire for a counterpoint to so much negativity.

A member of the oft-maligned LGBTQ community in Haiti, Denis presents — through visuals with “title cards” testimony (intertitles between action in silent movies) in English or Haitian Creole — “subjects” who want to live and love their own way. One reads: “They want us to feel different, but our love is not different.”

This installation is documentaryish. Denis, who pushes the envelope, explains the difficulty of getting subjects to visually reveal identities on screen.

Haiti is highly socially conservative and is greatly impacted by evangelicals. A law passed recently in Haiti’s Senate makes it illegal to demonstrate for gay rights, which potentially puts the subjects at risk. This installation has not been shown in Haiti.

“It’s not completely finished,” Denis explains. “I need more material.” The artist returned to Haiti to continue and will take his expanded installation to Croatia later this month and project it on three screens.

Denis also curated the open-air photo exhibitions by seven Haiti-based photographers in four community gardens in Brooklyn, a collaboration with the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, which opened on May 31 and continues through July 1.

Despite mist and threatening rain, the afternoon opening at Rodgers / Tilden/Veronica Pl. garden buzzed with visitors meeting the exhibiting photographer Josué Azor and viewing “Noctambules” — French for night owls, his 20 weather-resistant freestanding images sprouted in the garden. The photographs’ intent evokes a night dweller whose perceived clandestine activities best flourish away from the brightness and tumult of daylight.

Additionally, Westbrook garden is showing Pierre Michel Jean; Q Gardens — Georges Harry Rouzier, and Greene Garden has a group show including three women: Fabienne Douce, Edine Celestin, Noiredelatour and Sebastien Denis. On June 11, Westbrook Garden and on June 16, Greene Garden will host an artist conversation.

Garden addresses/hours: haiticulturalx.org/contemporary-photography-exhibition-featuring-haiti-based-artists.

Dancers in the Compagnie de Danse Jean-Rene Delsoin put on a performance full of Haitian imagery and symbolism.
Katherine Freshwater

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