Panamérica, lavro e dou fé! Ato 1 – Haiti o Ayiti

Perhaps we can understand Panamérica, lavro e dou fé! Ato 1 – Haiti o Ayiti as the first break in a long journey.

Perhaps we can understand Panamérica… as a prayer, a ritual – or, in modern language, a pedagogical stage.

Perhaps we can understand Panamérica… as a rebellious occupation by distant migrants, curious tourists or simply citizens of the world, who take over a house, ground and first floor, with their belongings, beliefs, filling space and time with their languages and rites in opposition to the civilising and westernising gaze.

Perhaps we can still understand Panamérica… as a witchcraft, an invocation, an animistic act that makes the rivers chatter, the mountains rumble, the skies fall, the tectonic plates scream – in the depths of the underground layers and sediments, of the founding and generating nuclei.

Perhaps we can understand Panamérica… as an exercise in resistance, a call to the living and invisible things of Abya Yala – Oxumarê, Dambalah Hwedo, Aida Hwedo, Yewa, Bessen, Bafono Deka, Angoro – for insurrection, for the struggle against extractivism, colonialism, the patriarchal and normative dictates of capitalist primacy.

Panamérica, lavro e dou fé! Ato 1 – Haiti o Ayiti is an exhibition of artefacts that positions Haitian culture and history at the centre of the world, as the stage for struggles that have lasted for centuries. It is a show of books, local objects, crafts, traces of voodoo experiences, feathers, candles, wind chimes, textiles, seeds, etc., that conjure or summon up a communal atmosphere – it is no accident that the performance-offering is key in this act.

We stand in the geological history of Ayiti; we recall the memories of colonisation, plunder and invasion by European peoples; we celebrate the 1794 Revolution where slaves rebelled and instituted Ayiti as the first country in America, perhaps even the world, to abolish slavery; we dance to the sounds of the African diaspora and slaves.

Then we dance to the sound of the cultural importation from the Global South that spawned American jazz; we revisit financial terrorism, environmental terrorism, the Plastic Plague; we discover the benevolent colonization of NGOs, which occupied Ayiti after the 2010 earthquake and have sought to supersede local institutions; we inquire with curiosity into Haitian geography: the rivers, the long coastline, the mountains, the forests, the mangroves; we understand the social, cultural and historical role of voodoo in resisting the disciplining wrath of Europe, the United States of America and the other colonised countries that perpetuate the colonising practices of their colonisers: Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil.

That’s what Ayiti is – a cultural melting pot of Amerindian, African and European peoples whose order, self-administration and governance is always under reconstruction. What many see as ungovernable dread, others see as recreative chance. Ayiti is the mirror that reflects back the fascist, criminal and monstrous image of the so-called West. That is why we pretend not to see this country; that is why we ignore news about this country; that is why we associate any creative experience of this country as an artisanal exercise, a primitive expression, a creation taken from a social action programme, where the booklet, to the horror of many Portuguese, is written in a mixture of Brazilian Portuguese and Creole.

Without mediation, perhaps Panamérica, lavro e dou fé! Ato 1 – Haiti o Ayiti will always be an incomprehensible and misunderstood expression. But it will always be a necessary, critical expression, capable of further widening the wound caused by the four horsemen of the modern apocalypse: climate change; colonialism; capitalism and patriarchy. Not least because the future should always be Creole.

Panamérica, lavro e dou fé! Ato 1 – Haiti o Ayiti is organised by Cecilia Lisa Eliceche and Leandro Nerefuh, divided between exhibitions and several musical, performative and danceable proposals. It can be seen and experienced at Galerias Municipais de Lisboa | Galeria da Boavista until September 18.

José Rui Pardal Pina (n. 1988) has a master's degree in architecture from I.S.T. in 2012. In 2016 he joined the Postgraduate Course in Art Curation at FCSH-UNL and began to collaborate in the Umbigo magazine. Curator of Dialogues (2018-), an editorial project that draws a bridge between artists and museums or scientific and cultural institutions with no connection to contemporary art.

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