Suspended Animations

Humanities faculty members and students put Haitian culture on display
January 31, 2011
 


When renowned Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié visited campus in December, he followed the familiar lecture, dinner, and class-visit routine. But his stay also included an added twist: He checked in on the progress of an art project he’d made arrangements for earlier in the year. Faculty members and students from various departments in Duke’s first humanities laboratory, a multidisciplinary group focused on Haiti’s history and culture, were to create works representing issues of identity facing contemporary Haiti.

Duval-Carrié, who lives in Miami, came up with the idea of creating blocks of translucent plastic that contain images, documents, personal items, or other objects related to the theme of cultural fragmentation in Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. The finished works will be backlit and put on display in the lab’s offices in Smith Warehouse.

Most lab participants are scholars, more accustomed to using academic forums for discussion, notes Laurent Dubois, a history professor and codirector of the lab. “This work forces us to develop new skills and to think about the images we use relevant to Haiti.”

Read two of the story blocks.