DEATH AND FERTILITY
Haiti Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale
commissioner: Ministry of Culture and Communication of the Republic of Haiti
curator: Daniele Geminiani
scientific committee: Donald John Cosentino, Leah Gordon
project manager: Mary Zurigo
The Republic of Haiti is for the first time at the 54th Venice Biennale, one of the most relevant international art event in the world.
The exhibition DEATH AND FERTILITY presents the works of three artists from Port-au-Prince, who are a part of Atis-Rezistans, the artistic collective from the Grand Rue neighbourhood. The group, started in the mid-nineties, is based in a popular neighbourhood in the Haitian capital. Death and Fertility focuses on Gede, the family of spirits, which, in the Vodou religion, embody both death and fertility.
The focus on Gede has been a curatorial choice which intends to highlight the artists' meditation on the extremes of life and the elements in their work which allude to death and sexuality, reflecting the complexity of Vodou.
The Gede, the guardians of the dead, are often quite rowdy and raunchy, sprinkling their conversation with profanities and sexual innuendo. Haitian culture is generally very conservative and does not normally reward such behaviour, but the Gede can commit such social transgressions with impunity – as being dead, they are beyond punishment. They typically do not use profanity in an abusive manner, but prefer to make people laugh. The Gede are the ancestors who bridge the gap between 'Ginen' (Africa) and the living of Haiti. Many of Gede's names all end in La Croix in honor of Bawon and Manman Brijit, who reclaim the souls of the ancestors; both Bawon and Manman Brijit's symbol is the cross.
'He is master of the two absolutes: fucking and dying'
(Donald J. Consentino)