The challenge in trying to decipher the truth in oral histories reminds me of an Indian literature class I took at RISD during my Sophomore year. It was called “Narrative Flows” and it explored literary pieces that dealt with the importance of water in Calcutta- through stories of different families, social classes, religious groups, caste systems, etc…
The class attempted to expose the various local voices in Calcutta. For the first time, I learned about the concept of “The Other” and one’s position in the world, when hailing from a developing country.
Since my goal with this project is to tell a story, perhaps a fluid approach is appropriate… and ideal. The truth in “Narrative Flows” might prove more valid than the Westerner’s written words on “The Other”s history.
Simultaneously, Jacmel has always been open to the world. It might also be fitting to welcome (compare & contrast) different views and interpretations of the history of this vibrant town. It does become very colorful and stimulating to learn and write about the different views.
The many articles published by the Canadian newspaper “The Globe and Mail” have provided useful information on the city of Jacmel as it recovers. Their “Project Jacmel” initiative was encouraged by Canada’s governor general Michaelle Jean, who is a native of Jacmel and current UNESCO Envoy for Haïti.
Here is a link to the website: Project Jacmel; A City Rebuilds
The Atelier Photo Jacmel 2011 is a photography workshop that took place during the past two weeks in Jacmel. The studio opened an exhibition in Port-au-Prince at the Institut Français d’Haïti, this past Friday, October 28. Here is a link to their online journal: Atelier Photo Jacmel 2011
The workshop was funded by FOKAL, the Institut Français d’Haïti, Chantiers du Sud, the Alliance Française de Jacmel, and MINUSTAH.
Some pictures retrieved from the Atelier’s blog:
In the introduction of his article “Preservation is Overtaking us“, Rem Koolhaas makes a point that covers a shared feeling on the architect’s approach to projects.
We were lucky in 2002 to receive a commission from the Beijing government that enabled us to try to investigate and define for China a specific form of preservation. This is one of those unique moments in which we come closer, and maybe I should say in this case that I come closer, to one of my most intimate utopian dreams, which is to find an architecture that does nothing. I’ve always been appalled that abstinence is the one part of the architectural repertoire that is never considered. Perhaps in architecture, a profession that fundamentally is supposed to change things it encounters (usually before reflection), there ought to be an equally important arm of it which is concerned with not doing anything.
From an American couple’s blog “On the Goat Path” in Haiti:
But Carnival is actually more than just scary masks, music, and dancing. There are a number of groups who decorate themselves symbolically in a way that portrays a time in Haiti’s history. For instance, there are the Chaloska, who “mimic Charles Oscar Etienne, chief of police who in 1915 killed the political prisoners which led to the fall of Vilbrun Guillaume Sam and then to the American occupation.” (Thanks Christina Schutt!) Their enormous red mouths filled with large protruding teeth make them hard to miss, and they march down the roads acting out the prosecution of said political prisoners. It’s actually kind of creepy, but incredibly interesting at the same time.
Image by British photographer: Leah Gordon in “Kanaval : vodou, politics and revolution on the streets of Haiti / photography and oral histories”
Jacmel- World Monument Fund 2012
Covered in a special issue of ISPAN (Institution du Patrimoine National):