- Pares & Nones (Evens & Odds): Invisible Equality
To read a book—one book—we must divide it in two. Ancient traditions say that the creation of the world may have only been possible by the powerful force of polarization, differentiation: man/woman, yin/yang, light/darkness. The number two is then the same as the number one: the manifestation of the same reality but in opposite directions.
To articulate the complicated historical scenery of the two nations that dwell in La Hispaniola, it is also necessary to separate them, polarize them. The emergence of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and of their respective cultures, has been canonized in such a way as to assume this natural splitting process. In their eagerness to define by opposition, they have obviated the absolute interdependency of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Yes, they were twins; two creatures were born in the same island, gestated in the belly of plantation economy, the machine invented by Europe for the New World.
Pares & Nones is an exercise in the hidden sight of this unique reality in the Caribbean that challenges the beatific hypothesis of an anti-apocalyptic Caribbean as argued by Antonio Benítez-Rojo or as prophesized by Edouard Glissant, who both talk about a model of Caribbean creolization for the world. Over the mountains of this island—the only one in the Caribbean with a territorial dividing line between two nations—lie presaging clouds that threaten to liberate them with their humid truths; the exceptional life of the serpent-island that eats its own tail: that must be two to be one.
In this exhibition, the images of (among others) Elia Alba, Carlos Acero, Vinicio Almonte, Ricardo Briones, Olivier Flambert, Miguel Gómez, Fonso Khouri, Abraham Khouri, Roxane Ledan, Daniel Morel, Darìo Oleaga, Marc Steed, and Roberto Stephenson, seek to demonstrate [End Page 83] the disparate unity of both realities. Deliberately, some images appear to have been taken in Santo Domingo when in fact they were taken in Port-au-Prince—or vice versa.
Pares & Nones is the first, and so far the only, joint exhibition of Haitian and Dominican photographers to have been realized. It represents an original approach because in addition to incorporating those of the diaspora and those of the island this unprecedented exhibit also includes different genres and techniques ranging from photo-journalism to contemporary art, from classic 35 mm to digital, from natural to infrared light, revealing in this way that photography in the Caribbean is one of the most technically developed visual traditions.
Finally, Pares & Nones is committed to the inescapable permeability between the two nations, sharing the same land, without falling into the common exoticism that has traditionally shaped the perspective from which the cultural production of the Caribbean is dealt.
Acero, an accomplished artist with a handful of awards, is himself a byproduct of migration: his parents are from Spain. This image won a prize in 1995 and is entitled “Some Leave, Others Come: Crossing the Stream”, referring to the dual migration status of the Dominican Republic which has two active borders: one in the ground with Haiti, and the other one in the water in the Mona Canal that separates it from Puerto Rico. The porosity of
Click for larger view
View full resolution
[End Page 84]
the border with Haiti has been caulked vigorously by the United States who sent eight thousand soldiers to reinforce it in November 2002. This image was taken at dawn in front of the Cathedral of Santiago in what the artist describes as a magical moment of light, since it was raining very hard and the sun only came out for a couple of precious minutes. The duality of the reflection is a wonderful metaphor of reality turned upside down depending on which side the eye decides to position it. This ambiguity is an indispensable component of everything that has to do with the discordant...