Robert August Peterson
1. Cemetery: Walking around the cemetery near to the end of my time in Haiti I was struck by the notion that the time of the day surrounding sunset is a delicate thing. It is crucial to be mindful of what you do at dusk. What you let in you eye can hurt you as much as heal you particularly when the sun is going home for the day.
2. Dixie Reversal: The awning of Louco's house was covered with what looked like an old truck tarp or possibly a billboard covering. The dualisms and conundrums of both my home in Louisiana and Port-au-Prince where brought alive in my mind when I saw this found word construction puzzle. In many ways Port-au-Prince is the reverse of "Dixie", a place I could claim as my home. Yet my version of Dixie, Louisiana, is more similar, in my estimation, on levels that reside around the roots of both our cultures.
3. Erzulie Monument: I'm not totally sure what was happening here. This happened while John Cussans was delivering gifts to various locations in the cemetery for various reasons. The ageless woman on the cross was separated by an iron gate from the men who were clearly attempting to spot her as she writhed up and down bent at the knees. The sensorial overload that this event precipitated is hard to describe.
4. Female Body Inspector: Dominoes players near the welding spot toward the road in front of Eugene's house. The look on the face is a typical one but nonetheless magnetic.
5. Ladies in the Cemetary: This was happening to the back of the girl on the cross in the Erzulie monument. There must have been 50 people in the little courtyard paying some kind of visit to the monument. Once John arrived with postcards printed with traditional Haitian proverbs and began to hand them out a frenzy to get one arose that got pretty intense in a hurry.
6. Louco at Home: This was taken on the breezway of his home which is on the second floor. His house is a few blocks from the area where Celeur, Eugene and Cheby live. At some point, after I had been in Port-au-Prince a few weeks, I was downstairs on the street in front of his house and a total stranger came up to me and grabbed the tail of my shirt and pulled up on it. She was gesturing to me in an effort to see the tattoo of Mary with the dying Jesus in her lap that covers most of my back. I found it amazing that the news of a "blanc" with the Pieta on his back could spread like it had in the way it had. Louco was a man who had real joy inside of him. I am totally blessed to have known him.
7. Louco's Stairwell: It is always nice to find impromptu, layered, patinaed, wall coverings like this one on the landing of Louco's home. It is a warm feeling that comes over me when I see something like this. It let's me know that this place is lived in, softened by the harsh light and hands rubbing it smooth over time.
8. Man Putting His Shoes On: The relationship that Haitians have to the miniature city that is the cemetery in the center of Port-au-Prince is a peculiar one to me. The cemeteries in New Orleans are built on the same set of principles, above ground to avoid problems with rains and floods. Yet that is where the similarities end. The evidence of life and movement among the mausoleums in Port-au-Prince is a stark yet welcome contrast to the solitude of the cities of the dead back home.
9. Moun Fou: This guy was silently taking in the day doing what reminded me of the work of a mime in the road immediately to the west of the National Palace. He bothered no one and no one bothered him.
10. Palenque Jean Robert: Palenque is an artist and resident of the Grand Rue area around Eugene's house known as Ghetto Leann. I was so taken with his brightness and the fact that everywhere I saw him he was always moving, working, talking, laughing. Here he returns with several water sachets referred to as "Dlo" an shortening of the french word for water. As I look at this photograph I am reminded of the delicate stability of the cooperative that has taken root in Ghetto Leann. I become mindful of the vibrance of life there and cannot help but feel a bit of sadness that something like that isn't a part of my life here in the states.
11 Racine in the Timoun Rezistans Area next to Eugene's house: This young man is Celeur's nephew and, along with his brother Guerly, a student of his uncle. He is a tall, lanky young man with a giant smile permanently on his face. You cannot help but be lifted up by that smile. He and his brother are a big part of the bright future of the radical movement of the heart and mind fermenting even now at this darkest hour in Port-au-Prince.