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Haiti

Haiti

by Bruce Gilden

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Bruce Gilden first journeyed to Haiti in 1984 to document the famous Mardi Gras festivities in Port au Prince. Fascinated by the country, he returned many times and his landmark monograph Haiti, a culmination of these photographs made during this period was first published in 1996. Gilden has continued to return to Haiti, and this new expanded edition of his book includes over thirty additional photographs made up until 2010, completing Gilden’s vision of the county.

More about this book

Though only an hour’s flight from Miami and the US mainland, Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti was freed from French colonial control and slavery in the early 19th Century but this independent came at a cost of an ‘independence debt’ which was not paid off until 1947. In addition, chronic instability, dictatorships and natural disasters in recent decades have left it as the poorest nation in the Americas.

 The carnival which first drew Gilden to the country continues to be a symbol of resilience and determination in the face of struggle. It is the unique energy of the country which led Gilden off the beaten track to photograph its inhabitants, streets, stray dogs, markets, slaughterhouses, barber shops, funerals and celebrations. In line with Gilden’s well-known style, the photographs were made as close as possible to his subjects. The result is an underlying sense of tension and movement, as Gilden leads the viewer to encounter the country as he did on his journeys through its streets.

 ‘And yet, you tell him, this country is hanging on to its last breath. Teeming, throbbing under the sun, sex aroused, bursts of life in mourning garb, relentlessly trying to mute the trumpets of death. Eppur si muove. And yet, the country is still going. In the eyes of the women and men who inhabit it. In the smiles of its children. In the hope deeply rooted in their hearts, which refuse to give up. Even backed up against the wall. In their songs. In their dances. In their everyday words. In their ability to swap the havoc of distress for stardust.’  - Louis-Philippe Dalembert.

 The book includes an essay by Haitian author Louis-Philippe Dalembert.

Co-published by Atelier EXB, Paris / GOST Books
Published November 2023
Essay by Louis-Philippe Dalembert
215x290 mm portrait
144pp, 81 images
Hardback clothbound
ISBN 978-1-915423-07-8

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  • Bruce Gilden (b.1946) studied sociology at Penn State University but was drawn to photography after Michelangelo Antonioni's classic 1966 film Blow Up and he decided that he, too, would become a photographer. In 1968, he bought himself a cheap Miranda camera and took a few evening classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Whilst working as part-time truck driver, he began to photograph the characters on the streets of New York in his days off. It is this work and his confrontational style which have brought him recognition.

    Gilden has photographed across the world and his work has been published in numerous monographs. His work has been exhibited widely around the world and is included in collections such as MOMA, New York, Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Already the recipient of numerous grants and awards (among them three National Endowment for the Arts and a Japan Foundation Fellowship) in 2013, Bruce Gilden became the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Bruce Gilden joined Magnum Photos in 1998.