Since 2010, Paolo Woods has worked on his long-term project STATE, set in Haiti where he resides. Living and working in this dilapidated country has given Woods not only a sense of the culture and politics that continue to struggle for a clear identity following decades of turmoil both man-made and environmental; but he has also developed a sensibility to the genuine spirit of the people, a spirit of innovation and tradition, of the comical and the dark side alike. STATE articulates many aspects of Haitian life that otherwise exist as footnotes, such as the entrepreneurialism of the young, the rise of American evangelism, the profusion of FM radio, the clamour of NGO’s and of course the contradictory economic elite of an island ravaged in recent times. It is not hard to find flashes of heroism or hints of heartache in Woods’ investigative work.
STATE shows Haiti like never before. While not ignoring the huge difficulties of a land where two thirds of the inhabitants don’t have enough to eat, the exhibition tells how a country presented as “cursed” is, above all, a place where resistance, humor, creation and culture live side by side; how the idea of a nation articulates itself around an absent State; how Haiti concentrates all the issues of a Southern nation submitted to the winds of globalization that the combined efforts of the international community are not capable of addressing.
Rather than the after effects of the drama, Paolo Woods wanted to understand what constitutes the everyday life of a country, and even its normalcy. Because this fraction of an island tells more than its own history and represents more than a singular destiny, STATE questions processes that extend far beyond Haiti.
STATE will be published by Photosyntheses and released in September 2013.
The project will simultaneously be launched as an exhibition at the Musee de L’Elysee, Lausanne, 20 September 2013 – 5 January 2014 and an exhibition at Photoville New York, 19 September – 29 September 2013.
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All images ©Paolo Woods/INSTITUTE