PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince is at once a portrait of Haiti’s capital, a celebration of its arts, and a visionary re-mapping of culture in the world’s first Black republic. Published to celebrate a landmark 2018 exhibition at Pioneer Works, PÒTOPRENS comprises the first major survey of contemporary artists of urban Haiti.
Printed in both English and Haitian Kreyòl, PÒTOPRENS is a map-like reflection of the urban landscape and a new geography of popular production. The city of Port-au-Prince is a polyphonic metropolis that declares its past via multiple voices; in this volume, the city’s complex present is evoked through artworks, images, testimonies, and essays. These contents are organized around distinct zones of artistic production—urban neighborhoods identified with particular subjects, materials, and forms. Focusing on 14 of these areas’ exemplary artists, PÒTOPRENS mirrors the geography of the city that inspired it.
Contextualized by leading writers on Caribbean history and culture, these artists’ stories are situated within Port-au-Prince’s rich heritage of “majority class art.” As cities everywhere grow ever-more critical to our changing global environment, catalyzing cultural, social, political, and economic transitions of all kinds, this book articulates urban Haiti’s unbroken link with its revolutionary past. It also issues an insistent call to relocate that past, and the vital forms of expressive culture its echoes still feed, within the contemporary record.
With an introduction by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, PÒTOPRENS includes essays by Edouard Duval-Carrié, Leah Gordon, and Gina Athena Ulysse, and features text and artwork by Katelyne Alexis, Karim Bléus, Myrlande Constant, Dubréus Lhérisson, Ronald Edmond, André Eugène, Richard Fleming, Celeur Jean Hérard, Jean Salomon Horace (Ti Pelin), Frantz Jacques (Guyodo), Michel Lafleur, Evel Romain, Jean Claude Saintilus, and Yves Telemaque.