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A new exhibition by Montreal photographer Darren Ell is set to open on September 18th. Ell's exhibition, Haiti: Rewind, was created as a response to Canadian, French and U.S. policy in Haiti and comprises material drawn from Ell's visits to Haiti between 2006 and 2008. The photo exhibition exposes the role of these three powers in the destabilization and subsequent overthrow of the popular government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.
The photo exhibition looks at the consequences of the overthrow of the elected government, an event with which the Haitian people are living to this day. It questions the purported benevolence of the United Nations force that has been the predominant power in Haiti since 2004.
The photographs and video installations of the exhibition place current foreign meddling in Haiti squarely within colonial history. Photographs taken in Port-au-Prince during UN police raids and popular demonstrations against rising prices harken back to French painters working at the height of French imperial power in Haiti in the late 1700's and to activist American painter Leon Golub.
The first video installation features a serene but abandoned landscape from Cité Soleil with a voice-over by Haitian-Canadian Jean St-Vil reading Frantz Gabriel's eye-witness account of the abduction of Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29th, 2004. Gabriel was responsible for Aristide's security and was abducted himself.
The second video installation is a looping projection of legal data concerning the hundreds of political prisoners still detained in Haiti. The information for this piece was obtained from Haiti's Bureau des avocats internationaux (Office of International Lawyers).
Haiti : Rewind is the third body of work for Darren Ell. Twice Removed (2004) dealt with the Israeli occupation of Palestine; Between States (2006) addressed the treatment of refugee claimants in Canada. Haiti : Rewind opens on Thursday, September 18th at Concordia University's MFA Gallery. The gallery is located at 1395 Boulevard René Lévesque West and is open from 9am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday. A vernissage (opening party) will take place on Friday, September 19th at 7 pm.
September 18th to 30th
Vernissage / Opening: September 19th, 7 pm
MFA Gallery: 1395 René Lévesque West, Montreal
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