‘The photographic representation, Haiti’s external perception, is the crucible of racial anxiety’, Leah Gordon tells me. Her black and white photographs of the pre-Lenten Mardi Gras Kanaval in Jacmel, Haiti intervene in this cultural milieu, but act less as ethnographic documents and more as performed ethnography, as Myron M Beasley, Professor of African-American Studies at Bates College has categorised them. Existing between portraiture and reportage, the photographs tap into the cultural memory and history that the characters captured re-enact, through the uncanny, the grotesque, the hyperbole celebrated and exorcised through this folk ritual. ‘I was very impressed by the fact that the production of culture is still in the hands of the subaltern class in Haiti, which makes a co-existence with the production of history’. Through the confident gaze of the camera- a 50 year old Roleiicord twin lens reflex- this history becomes an Artaudian spectacle, one in which identity is displaced, tapping into an otherness that is dominant and reflexive.
– a-n Magazine‘s review of Leah Gordon’s exhibit: “Leah Gordon: Kanaval – Vodou, Politics And Revolution On The Streets Of Haiti”