Ghetto Biennale

Since 2009 I have been closely involved with the Ghetto Biennale, an international arts event that takes place in Haiti. The biennale is curated by the British artist Leah Gordon and Atis Rezistans, a community of artists living in the Grand Rue area of Port-au-Prince. I made two videos during the first biennale: Invisible Mirrors (2010), which documents a visit to a bronze boar in downtown Port-au-Prince that had been ritually defaced by UN peace-keeping forces in 2004, and Dirty Material (2010) which documents a visit to Moleya dump at La Plaine, a few miles north of Port-au-Prince.

In 2015 I created GBIV ZIN, a “gossip wall” installed in the centre of the biennale on which local people could make comments about the event.

The comments formed the basis for my essay ‘WEIRD Commerce at the Ghetto Biennale (Proverbs from the Gossip Wall)’ which was published in The Happy Hypocrite journal in 2016 and Ghetto Biennale Catalogue in 2017. A PDF of the essay can be found here.

Since 2010, following the major earthquake in Haiti, I have worked on several collaborative projects with Tele Geto, a local group of young men from the community who created a parody news team to report on the first Ghetto Biennale using a repurposed plastic bottle and a stick.

In February 2010 I supplied members of Tele Geto with a basic camera and microphone, encouraging them to record life in their local area after the earthquake and to post the videos on Youtube.

I designed a publicity image for Tele Geto, based on the designs used on local tap-tap buses in Haiti, that was used to promote the project in the UK and internationally.

In July 2010 I organised a sculpture-making workshop with students from Morpeth School in Bethnal Green, London, led by the Atis Rezistans sculptors Andre Eugene, Ronad “Cheby” Bazile and Jean Herard Celeur. Using discarded materials found in the art class store rooms the students created an exhibition of sculptures in the school foyer.

In 2011, during the second Ghetto Biennale, I commissioned a publicity sign for Tele Geto which I filmed the negotiations for and creation of. This became The Tele Geto Sign-Painting Video.

In 2013 I used the Tele Geto Sign Painting Video to lead workshops in banner making with secondary school students at Morpeth School. This culminated in the exhibition Art Power at the Portman Gallery in 2013.

I am currently in the planning phase of a collaborative video project with Alex Louis from Tele Geto about life in his home-town Miragoâne after the earthquake, and a series of curated exhibitions of Haitian artists’ work at Pocko gallery in London.  My Haiti-related work, including critical commentaries on the Ghetto Biennale and extended essays on Haiti-related topics, are posted on my blog Invisible Mirrors/Miwa Yo Envizib.