"Love Letters to Toussaint" is a series of poems I wrote while doing research on the Haitian Revolution. Despite growing up in the Caribbean, I was unaware of how the almost religious reverence and the legendary status of Toussaint clashes with the complexity of contemporary historical accounts. All video was sourced from the Prelinger Film Archives. Musical accompaniment includes Charles Mingus' "Haitian Fight Song" and Federico Jusid & Orquesta Sinfónica de Radiotelevisión Española
Historically described as the "Black Napoleon", the complexity of Toussaint's character, that of a slave turned military general, was the product of an equally complex series of historical events that led to the only successful slave revolt to establish a republic in world history. The last remains of Toussaint are thought to be located somewhere in the Chateau De Joux, the impenetrable fortress in the Juras mountains of France, where he was banished by Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Coincidentally, the Chateau is claimed by the Deyo family of historic Huguenot fame as their ancestral home.
"Makandal" refers to the Haitian legend of a Maroon and vodou priest who miraculously escaped a burning at the stake for killing his enslaver in 1785 by transforming himself into a mosquito. "Black Jacob" is a reference to the spiritual and physical transformation necessary for Toussaint, a devout Catholic who struggled with his faith, not unlike the biblical Jacob wrestling the angel from the Book of Genesis. "All Saints in One" is the literal translation of "Toussaint" who success as a leader derived from his strategic ability to appear messianic in apocalyptic times.
Tiny House of Steel Part I
Brother? - a study of identity
Alphlabate - a study of language
Workers Comp. - a study of art & construction work
Malthusian Landscape, Aldrich Museum installation