Assistant Professor of Africana Studies @ Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Jeanne Essame is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in MA, USA. She holds a Ph.D. in History and Visual Culture from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Her current book project, Haiti and the Black 60s, focuses on Haitian intellectuals and artists in exile during the Duvalier era.
Geographical location : USA
Research Area and Interest : Haitian intellectuals and artists in exile during the Duvalier era
- Summary: This presentation focuses on the works of Martinican visual artist Jean-François Boclé and Haitian visual artist Rénold Laurent. Both artists engage in “la récup,” namely the act of transforming discarded objects into works of art. For visual artists whose works are concerned with history and memory, discarded objects have the potency to tell multilayered visual narratives that connect the past with the present. The history that Boclé performs using these objects is the history of Martinique, and by extension, the history of the African Diaspora, including the consumption of black bodies. The memory of enslavement, exploitation and misrepresentations collide with the republican ideals put forth by the French metropole. Boclé’s task is to un-silence this history by forcing the viewer to reflect on the tensions between the continental France and its colonies/overseas territories. In Laurent’s artwork, discarded objects highlight the creative minds of those who do not have access to traditional materials to create art. As such, he underlines Haitian artists’ vital need to create pieces that bear witness to their circumstances. The use of discarded objects in the works of Boclé and Rénold echoes the creative process enslaved Africans underwent as they (re)created a spiritual space in their new surroundings. The visual language that emerge from the poetics of la récup becomes the language of those who refuse to be discarded.