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Gina Cunningham & Emmy Cunningham


We created two projects for the 2011 Ghetto Biennale. The first project was a collaborative effort titled The Exquisite Corpse in the Ghetto. Upon arrival in Haiti, we immediately began working with residents of the Grand Rue community creating Exquisite Corpse drawing workshops. The Exquisite Corpse is a time-honored technique invented by Surrealists as a literary, parlor game and was soon adapted into a visual variant where three people complete one drawing. The outcome is amusing, thought provoking and unpredictable.

In our Grand Rue workshops we explored the relationship of automatic drawing and the process of creating images directly from the unconscious. The Exquisite Corpse serves as a metaphor for the surrealist fascination with jumbled anatomy and random additions and is considered a link to the unconscious and the spirit world. The vodou artwork created by the artists of the Grand Rue shares these concerns. Because the European Surrealists were inspired by non-western religious rituals, creating the Exquisite Corpse at the Ghetto Biennale brought the exercise full circle in the content of art history.

The beauty of the Exquisite Corpse exercise is that people of all abilities and ages collaborated. We worked with 30 to 40 residents in four intensive drawing workshops. We gave basic instructions in Kreyol, English and French. The drawings were assembled in large books. Since our exhibition strategy was flexible we were able to collaborate with the A-bout Collective from Berlin and exhibit the books in the on-site, pop up library that A-bout had created. In addition, we documented each stage of the project and edited a two minute video which we uploaded on-line and exhibited along with the books. We felt the project demonstrated local, spiritual relevance since the creation of visual books is symbolic of literacy, an issue that must become a priority in Haiti. We left the books with the community.

The second project was of a more whimsical nature. We created a scent installation using Vetiver, an aromatic grass that grows abundantly in Haiti. We were able to learn more about vetiver from the market ladies who sold us ample quantities of these fragrant roots. Vetiver is an important export valued by the perfume industry for its exquisite fragrance and used in the production of most perfumes and colognes. Vetiver can play an important role in soil and water conservation in Haiti. Its rapidly growing root system is able to prevent erosion. Planting vetiver can replenish deforested areas so native trees and plants can be re established in Haiti.

The Cameron Andersons, a family of artists from London participating in the Ghetto Biennale contributed several meters of white muslin to our project. We twisted the tenacious roots into spheres and created over one hundred white packets containing the scented, vetiver roots. We strung them above a narrow, but widely used pathway in the Grand Rue where people brushed up against the ethereal installation and were encouraged to pluck the sachets to smell and take with them. The pristine sachets created an interesting contrast in the setting of this gritty neighborhood. The foot traffic passing through the narrow passage soon twisted the fragile installation into bunches which resembled garlic but smelled like a sublime perfume.

It was a gratifying experience to be able to collaborate with both the local and visiting artists. We were delighted to be able to complete both projects as well as a short video. It would be an honor to participate in the next Ghetto Biennale, a positive, provocative and revolutionary art event.







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Enquiries & questions contact: Leah Gordon at:




A*BOUT A BOOK: Silke Bauer, Irina Novarese & Viola Thiele

Allison Rowe

Anderson Family: Peter Anderson, Clare Cameron, Esme Anderson & Mary Anderson

Anna Bruisma

Candice Lin, Phillip Mayles & Racine Polycarpe

Cary Cronenwett

Cat Barich

Charlotte Hammond

Crystal Nelson

Erin Durban & Shannon Randall

Floris Schonfeld

Frau Fiber & Jonas Labaze

Fungus Collective

Ghetto Architects: Vivian Chan, Maccha Kasparian, Yuk Yee Phang

Gina Cunningham &
Emmy Cunningham

Jakmel Eksperyans:
Ivy McClelland

Jana Braziel

Jason Metcalf

John Cussans & Alex Louis

Jurate Jarulyte

Karen Miranda Augustine & Ketty Paul

Kendra Frorup

Kwynne Johnson & Paul Klein

Laura Hayman

Liz Woodroffe

Maureen Tovey & Arcade Fire

Militza Jean-Felix

Michael Massenburg

Natalia Matta

OKIPASYON: Joyce Ip, Jason Metcalf & Roberto Peyre

Pascal Giacomini

Piroska É Kiss

Rebecca Dirksen

Robert Gomez &
Romel Jean Pierre

Sarah Delaney

Sasha Huber & Petri Saarikko

Schallum Pierre

Toni Sanon

Tracey Moberly


Enquiries and questions contact
Leah Gordon at: