In the list of activities on the commemoration of the assassination of the founding father of the Haitian nation, Jean Jacques Dessalines, October 17, 1806, the exhibition, titled: “The pieces of the Emperor Jacques 1st” by the photographer Kesler Beloved, imposes itself by the best symbolic and aesthetic propositions, apart from the speech she conveys. Interview with KBA!
The National: More than 10 years after your exhibition on the Emperor Jean Jacques Dessallines, what do you read about reality?
Kesler Beloved: Yes, indeed, it has been ten years since the exhibition at the National Office of Ethnology of this exhibition of photographs and texts entitled “The pieces of the Emperor Jacques I”. Ten years since she turned in the national network of public libraries in 2008, saying the name of Dessalines aloud was perceived as subversive.
So, the use of aesthetics has always been for me an indomitable tool to bounce in the salons of some audiences. To laugh … also paradoxically, without having wanted to deceive my visitors at the time, I admit having hidden the name of Dessalines, under a majestic imperial title. And it worked. Since then, as before, I continue to work calmly on the political memory of a number of historical figures.
LN: What is your perception of the character in relation to the Haitian context in October 2018?
KBA: Well … it worked! Its appropriation is essential. In any case, I was not alone in this new form of popularization. Indeed, since the observation of the failure of the celebration of the bicentennial of independence (1804-2004), added to the International occcupation of the territory, there has been an update of its rhetoric or the Dessalinian ideal in Haitian public space and well beyond Haitian borders.
In the current political tangle, it is normal that the Haitian LEGBA is each time summoned, invoked. Indeed, there is nothing wizard to be inspired by his ideal. In today’s globalized world, every people decides sovereignly which figure among the national pantheon can legitimately play this role of scout.
LN: What should be the true place of JJD in the public space and Haitian institutions?
KBA: To speak about the historical memory, therefore, of the certified memory, the tone must be given to the highest level of the State and this outside the interests of chapels. On the other hand, when there is a deficit of statesmen who assume, the worthy sons and daughters of this great parent must insist on bringing this memory to their forehead so that no one is ignorant of his humanistic teaching. “We have dared to be free, dare to be free by ourselves and for ourselves”.
LN: Do you think your exhibition would still be relevant?
KBA: Perhaps, are there other more creative and / or textual or imaginary proposals? If so, I am delighted to have been able to help broaden his political appropriation as a key figure in my land, continent and race.
Ben … the exhibition and the book “The pieces of the Emperor James I” seem to be still relevant. Most texts are relayed on the web in contexts of social demands including “popular”. They are included in the “petro battle”.
The National: What are the real dimensions to take into account in the character of JJD for the Haitian revival?
Kesler Biem-Aimé: First of all, its humanist dimension and man of all breaks. Of course, “there are deaths that treason and oblivion can not bury” (Kesler Beloved, 2008).
In fact, whenever it is necessary to defend what remains of dignity in the Haitian soul, it is necessary to refer to it. In an unfavorable geopolitical context where the dominant perception trumpets that Haiti is deprived of everything; only the bravery and verticality of the founding father remain as sources of negotiation with otherness.