Blesi Doub. Heridas Dobles. Dual Wounds.
Teresa María Díaz Nerio, Trujillo’s Island (2007), 40’, Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam. Photos by Charlott Markus.

An Introduction

Blesi Doub. Heridas Dobles. Dual Wounds.

Dedicated to Jacques Viau Renaud

By Alanna Lockward
"Pretending to sign migratory agreements between our governments without engaging in policies that focus on cultural exchange and the dismantling of those prejudices that have distanced us will remain a utopia easily dismissed by those promoting fear and hatred between two populations victimized by the colonial division of the world, in our case at the hands of Spain and France."

Antonio Lockward Artiles (2009, 247)

Poetry as a tool for healing has been consecrated by many, and the words of Audre Lorde (1984) are particularly relevant for the ideas presented in this multimedio:

Over the last few years, writing a novel on tight finances, I came to appreciate the enormous differences in the material demands between poetry and prose. As we reclaim our literature, poetry has been the major voice of poor, working class, and Colored women. […] The actual requirements to produce the visual arts also help determine, along class lines, whose art is whose. (116)

In this powerful statement, Lorde summarizes the distinctive intersectionality between healing, poetry, political activism, and the visual arts, which is clearly observable in the way that performance practices are embodied by the artists of Saint-Domingue, the island that comprises the nations of Haiti and the Domincan Republic. And in this assertion, those living in the diaspora are equally included; my curatorial and theoretical work has consistently spiraled around this axis. Marked by economic and political exile, this quintessential Caribbean quality demands to be analyzed in the context of two brutal dictatorships and their immediate successors.[1] This particular demetaphorization[2] of the colonial and imperial wounds is what I intend to highlight with the use of the term/idea of ‘Dual Wounds’. In their shared (diasporic) social persona, the inhabitants of this exceptional Antillean imaginary are constantly confronted with the freshness of the blood shed by two barbarous dictators. This common legacy of long and brutal dictatorial rule is what defines the essence of shared ‘Dual Wounds’ in the context of this multimedio. In Saint-Domingue the heroes and heroines of anti-dictatorial activism and their descendants are now sharing this moment in history with their murderers and their offspring. The grandsons of both François Duvalier and Rafael Trujillo, moreover, born and raised outside of the island, are now politically active in their respective countries.

The trajectory of Dual Wounds as a conceptualization of the lineage of counter-hegemonic narratives on Haitian-Dominican relations can be found in Antonio Lockward Artiles' review of a seminar organized by the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences) in 1998:

The categorical statements of renowned intellectuals such as Carlos Esteban Deive, Hugo Tolentino Dipp, Frank Moya Pons, Emilio Cordero Michel, Celsa Albert, Franklin Franco, on the Dominican side, coincided with those of Pierre Buteau, Verne Larose, Guy Maximilien, Roger Petit Frère, Arnold Antonin, and Guy Alexandre, the intellectual contingent of the Haitian delegation. Rubén Silié synthesized the consensus on the issues at stake, namely that long years of dictatorship in both countries and the ignorance of Dominican-Haitian history have created fear and distance, therefore hindering the creation of pathways of mutual understanding and stifling the possibility of creating lasting cooperation agreements. (1998, 245; emphasis added)

This multimedio aims at bringing to the fore the phenomenal literary, anti-dictatorial, and anti-imperialist patrimony of Haitian-Dominican poet Jacques Viau Renaud[3] as a healing device in the context of the challenges faced by both populations since their origins as part of the European colonial, genocidal, and economic enterprise in the Americas. As the son of a political exile during Francois Duvalier's dictatorship, Jacques Viau Renaud migrated with his family in 1958 to the neighboring Dominican Republic. From an early age, Jacques Viau Renaud became interested in literature, professing through his writing a deep love and respect for the two populations that formed the island of Saint-Domingue, or Ayïti. He taught French at a high school and actively participated in the Dominican literary life in the early ‘60s by joining groups like "Art and Liberation" with painter Silvano Lora. At the outbreak of the conflict known as the War of April 1965, Viau, with the majority of the Dominican population, advocated the return to power of ousted President Juan Bosch and joined the rebel forces as part of the command B-3. He was gunned down on 15 June 1965 by the explosion of a mortar fired by the United States Marine Corps. He was barely 23 years old. His best friend, Antonio Lockward Artiles, published his epic poem “Permanencia del llanto” (The Permanence of Weeping) posthumously that same year.

“The Permanence of Weeping” painfully and accurately portrays the tragedies imprinted in the inseparability of these two island-nations sharing the same territory. Resonating with the healing stamina of this epic binational poem, BLESI DOUB + HERIDAS DOBLES + DUAL WOUNDS has been conceived as a space for love and reconciliation between two Caribbean populations that share the inexorable continuities of coloniality. At the moment of Viau's untimely death, visual artists, poets, and intellectuals organized themselves into different collectives, [4] in circumstances still unmatched in the island's history. The legacy of the radical art of the 1960's in the Dominican Republic, a direct outcome of the struggle against dictatorial rule and, later, of the U.S. invasion of 1965, was defined by the budding solidarity between the two populations of the island. This solidarity found concrete expression in the more than 100 anti-Duvalier exiles who fought side-by-side with Dominicans against this U.S. invasion.

A central element of this multimedio is two collective readings of Renaud’s poem. Jacques Viau Renaud wrote in Spanish. The translation into French, by Yacine Khelladi, and English, by Patrick Rosal, of a fragment of his epic poem read by Haitians and Dominicans living on the island and in different parts of the world is central to this multimedio. The three colonial and imperialist languages simultaneously echo the tragedies inflicted on these two-island nations and create an urgently needed space for curative actions. As such, the words of Jacques Viau Renaud, spiritually present and embodied in our voices, conjure, on the one hand, the virtual ignorance of his political and literary legacy in Haiti and, on the other, the shame of being Dominican after the Constitutional Tribunal Ruling 168-13 (September 2013) that deprived Dominicans of Haitian descent of their rights as fellow citizens.

To record the readings of the poem, we met twice using Google Hangout, and the sessions were recorded by fellow transnational decolonial feminist Annie Isabel Fukushima from the Institute of Impossible Subjects collective. On February 16, the poem was read by Teresa María Díaz Nerio, Evelyne Margron, Yuderkys Espinosa Miñoso, Yacine Khelladi, Alanna Lockward, and Sophie Maríñez. On 18 February, by Maksaens Denis, Altagracia Jean-Joseph, Alanna Lockward, Miriam Neptune, Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson, and Charo Oquet.

This multimedio is also a continuation of my curatorial focus on time-based undertakings for the last two decades. As in previous projects, two primary elements remain central in BLESI DOUB + HERIDAS DOBLES + DUAL WOUNDS: a liberatory and healing agenda, on the one hand, and the synergy between artists living in the island and in the diaspora, on the other. Featured artists Eliú Almonte (Puerto Plata), Élodie Barthélémy (Paris and Port-au-Prince), Teresa María Díaz Nerio (Amsterdam and Santo Domingo), and Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson (Port-au-Prince and Perpignan), introduce to us how the curative energy of performance is articulated in their historical, political, intimate, and social narratives. While Almonte, Díaz Nerio, and Prézeau-Stephenson address the dictatorial legacies of the Dual Wound in a direct manner, Barthélémy's performance work is systematically focused on healing. This combination of political performance and a healing stamina is emblematic of the criteria that, according to the ideas exposed in the text found at the end of this multimedio, unites both the featured artists and those discussed in the text. Another common thread is the focus on Afro-centric spiritualities, present in some performances by Teresa María Díaz Nerio, Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson, and Charo Oquet, among others.

In this multidimensional text entitled Healing the Dual Wounds: Body Politics and/in Saint-Domingue, the notion of the inseparability of our shared realities is analyzed through the works of Mario Benjamin (Port-au-Prince); Maksaens Denis (Port-au-Prince); Jean-Ulrick Désert (Berlin and Port-au-Prince); Juan Dicent (New York and Santo Domingo); Nicolás Dumit Estévez (New York and Santiago De Los Treinta Caballeros); Adler Guerrier (Miami and Port-au-Prince); Sayuri Guzmán (Santo Domingo) and Alberto Khoury (Puerto Plata); Jessica Hirst (Puerto Plata and San Diego); Sasha Huber (Helsinki and Port-au-Prince); Orlando Menicucci (Puerto Plata); Yoiri Minaya (New York and Santo Domingo); Jochi Muñoz (Santo Domingo) and Charo Oquet (Miami and Santo Domingo); David Pérez Karmadavis (Antigua/Guatemala and Santo Domingo); and Raúl Recio (Santo Domingo).

One of the main ambitions of this first comparative analysis of performance art on both sides of the island and its diasporas is to further expand previous curatorial and theoretical work, such as Pares & Nones (Evens & Odds): Contemporary Photography from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Touring internationally from 2002-2008, Pares & Nones is the first, and so far the only, exhibition of Haitian and Dominican photographers to have been realized. In addition to incorporating those of the diaspora and those of the island, this unprecedented exhibit also included 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.

Another goal of this lengthy discussion is to convey some of the findings of my investigative work as a journalist on Haitian-Dominican relations in the last two decades, as compiled in the anthology Un Haití Dominicano: Tatuajes fantasmas y narrativas bilaterales 1994-2014 (Santuario, 2014), the first publication on Dominican immigrants in Haiti. Having spent long periods of time in Haiti since 1994, my analysis is also based on a dialogical approach to theorization and collective knowledge creation, which I have cultivated alongside an interest in healing devices in relation to the colonial, imperial Dual Wounds, mostly inspired by decolonial theory. Collective knowledge creation is one of the essential premises of decolonial aesthesis, hence the emphasis given to observe interconnections between artistic contributions to political performance, healing, and spirituality, for example, as opposed to reproducing Western hegemonic notions of the individual artistic “genius.” [5]

Finally, this multimedio is also an homage to the transdisciplinary legacy of my ancestors. As a third generation member of a family of artists, activists, and public intellectuals committed to the better understanding of the shared realities of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, my fiction and non-fiction work has consistently defied genre constraints:

I found it difficult to remain silent in the midst of the hubbub that was taking place, since I have taught novel and short story techniques. Sometimes it is healthy to remain silent if we depart from the certainty that a time will come when it will be possible to communicate this bit of truth, which is that at the end of this century nobody should pontificate on literary genre characteristics at the risk of being considered a buffoon. (Lockward Artiles 2009, 149)

I share these undertakings in full acknowledgement of the enormity of the challenges that we face as people always at the mercy of corrupt politicians and voracious oligarchies. Ever since the brutal capitalist enterprise known as European colonization divided the territory and populations of Ayïti, Saint-Domingue, or La Española, followed by several U.S. military occupations during the 20th century, we have been weeping and fighting back. I invoke the ancestral endowment of Jacques Viau Renaud as an eternal ally in this struggle.

Works Cited

Lockward Artiles, Antonio. 2009. Haitianos y cocolos en la literature dominicana. Santo Domingo: Editora Universitaria UASD.

Lorde, Audre. 1984. “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” In Sister Outsider, 114-123. Los Angeles: Freedom.

[1] François Duvalier (1957–1971) and Jean-Claude Duvalier (1971–1986). Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina (1930–1961) and Joaquín Balaguer (1960–1962; 1966–1978). For its ferocious prosecution of political opponents, this period is known as “Los Doce Años,” (The Twelve Years).

[2] I am very thankful to Silvio Torres-Saillant for the inspiring conversation on this particular matter.

[3] Port au Prince, 28 July 1941–Santo Domingo, 15 June 1965

[4] A pioneering overview of these contributions is compiled in the catalogue of the exhibition Dimensiones Heroicas, Museo de Arte Moderno, July 2001.

[5] “In my language, the tz’utujil, a visual artist, a medical doctor, a musician and a spiritual guide are all called q’manel.” Benvenuto Chavajay, Identidad, descolonialidad y resistencia, un acercamiento al pensamiento de Benvenuto Chavajay. Free translation by the Author.

Jacques Viau Renaud's Poem

A Fragment

To record the readings of the poem, we met twice using Google Hangout, and the sessions were recorded by fellow transnational decolonial feminist Annie Isabel Fukushima from the Institute of Impossible Subjects collective. On February 16, the poem was read by Teresa María Díaz Nerio, Evelyne Margron, Yuderkys Espinosa Miñoso, Yacine Khelladi, Alanna Lockward, and Sophie Maríñez. On 18 February, by Maksaens Denis, Altagracia Jean-Joseph, Alanna Lockward, Miriam Neptune, Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson, and Charo Oquet.

  16 February 2015
  18 February 2015

Eliú Almonte

La Isla Ofendida (2000). 3 y 2. Tres Idos: Cinco Artistas Contemporáneos Dominicanos. X-Teresa Arte Actual. Camera Karola Ritter.  

Two Plexiglas maps of the island were mirroring each other, one on the floor, the other hanging from the ceiling. On the floor, the different racializing categories used in Dominican territory to “classify” people across class divides were printed in red, covered with bare bones sprinkled with sea salt. On top, the second map was completely covered with dozens of parsley bunches. The challenging self-explanatory allegory of the 1937 Massacre represented by this herb, suspended from above, suggested permanent state of alertness with regards to this indeed inescapable issue in our shared history.

La Casa (2011). Vigésimo Sexta Bienal Nacional de Artes Visuales de Santo Domingo. Museo de Arte Moderno.  

Almonte created a space of tension and reflection around the architectonic destruction of Puerto Plata through unpredictable gestures, humor, and honesty with the use of his convulsed body, absent and present, visceral.

Negro Eterno (2014). Perfor-matorio Muestra de Arte Duracional. Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.  

In the middle of the 20th century, this eternal liquid, Negro Eterno, was used in our island to dye cloth and gray hair, as well as to commit suicide. In this context, unearthing the stigma, the artist metaphorizes the non-sense and dual banality of racialized “moral values,” confronting the audience with a mirror, occasionally with a reciprocated gaze.


Eliú Almonte was born in San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic, (1970), he lives and works in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. He is a multidisciplinary artist and curator, member of the Chocolatero Group and Latinlokosforever. He also coordinates the International Encounter of Performance Art “” and CHOCOPOP, in conjunction with Richard Martell and Elvira Santamaría. He has had several solo shows in Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Mexico DF and Miami and has exhibited in different museums, galleries and alternative spaces in Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Seoul, Santiago deChile, London, Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Valparaíso, Caracas, Barinas, San Jose, Oslo, Guadalajara, Tijuana, Cartagena and Guadeloupe. He is the winner of Dominican National prize of Sculpture “Prats Ventós” (1995, Spanish Cultural Centre, Santo Domingo). Among other scholarships and residencies he has been awarded by the SRE 2001 (X-Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City), Grace Artist in Residence (New York, 2007) and the Eleonor Chilton Foundation for Performance Art (New York, 2008).!cv/c1yqz

Élodie Barthélémy

Dynamo (2013) in collaboration with Scheherazade Al Ayoubi, Jacmel, Haiti.  

The musical composition initiates a dialogue with the precise actions of Elodie Barthélemy, who uses her monumental hair extensions soaked in different colors to whip a white canvas behind her.

Honneur-Respect Honneur-Respect (2013). Festival d'Avignon. Théâtre de la Chapelle du Verbe Incarné.   

This performance is inspired by death-related rituals in a Haitian family. The artist read a text by legendary writer, actress, singer and story-teller Mimi Barthélémy, her mother, honoring her dead on that year. The text in question was Le Fulgurant, a theatrical work based on epic Afro-Caribbean mythologies. At some point the hyper-extended dreads of the artist were cut.

Cordes à Cailloux (2014). Anis Gras Le Lieu de l'Autre. Arcueil, France. Photo by Jean-Michel Hequet.  

The rope is staged as a symbol of the multidimensional character of human relations in this collaborative work with rope acrobat Nicolle Perrier and musicians Chiara Simeone and Joran Le Nabat.


Élodie Barthélémy was born in 1965 in Colombia, of Franco-Haitian origin. She studied at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris where she graduated with honors in 1991. She then received a research grant for a study trip on Maya textile art in Central America for three months. She develops a very open field work: drawing, painting, engraving, applied fabrics, scenography, each one of them there shares an intimate relationship to materials and objects. Her works have been exhibited in France, Germany, Haiti, Guadeloupe, and South America. She was awarded the second prize of the City of Saint-Quentin in the fourth Internationale Biennial Pastel. Today she lives and works in Paris and in the Oise.

Teresa María Díaz Nerio

Ni 'mamita' Ni ‘mulatita' (2013), 60’, Arika: Episode 4: Freedom Is A Constant Struggle, Tramway, Glasgow. Photos 1, 2, 9, 10, 13, 14 by Alex Woodward. Photos 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 by Ingrid Mur.  

Based on the hyper-sexualized ”mulata” and the “faithful servant,” or “mamita,” this lecture-performance illustrates how these figures emerged in Cuba during colonialism, often becoming symbols of nationalist renderings after independence. The artist alternatively dances a rumba and reads her analysis of the film Yambaó (1957), featuring rumbera Ninón Sevilla, set on a plantation in 1850’s Cuba. Ninón Sevilla plays the role of a “mulata” called Yambaó, a dissident, trickster, and maroon who personifies Ochún, the goddess of love in Cuban Yoruba religion.

Trujillo’s Island(2007), 40’, Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Photos by Charlott Markus.  

This work, based on a photograph of Trujillo at the beginning of his dictatorship (1930-1961), examines his narcissistic patriarchal approach, on the one hand, and on the other, the alienating exoticism experienced by Caribbean women in the Diaspora. Behind a glass, as many Caribbean sexual workers inAmsterdam appear, she performs immobile, accompanied by an exuberant cardboard island inspired by phallic ‘exotic’ South African plants.

Hommage à Sara Bartman (2007), 40’ performance, 5’ video, no sound, Graduation Show at Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Photo by Sarah Gerats.  

This performance and video elucidates the life, death, and afterlife of a South African Khoisan woman who was exhibited in England and Paris at the beginning of the 19th century as part of a popular entertainment industry. The artist remains motionless, suggesting a helpless state of objectification of the Black female body. Yet she also empowers herself by action without action, an approach meant to refuse entertaining the white gaze.


Teresa María Díaz Nerio is a Dominican visual and performance artist and researcher living in Amsterdam. She graduated as a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (2007) and received her Master in Fine Arts from the Dutch Art Institute (2009). She does research often focused on subjects informed by the history of colonial and neocolonial invasions in the Global South challenging the hegemonic Eurocentric and US centric notions of who is who and what is what.

Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson

ASIRE protest (2014). Action Group Responsible Citizens. Port-au-Prince.  

The recent protests organized by victims and descendants of the Duvalier regime successfully used political performance to sabotage president Michel Martelly's plans to honor Jean-Claude Duvalier's burial with the protocol of a former head of state.

The Fabrication of the Creole Woman (2014). We Have Never Been Human: A Caribbean Studies Series, Yale University. Photos by Ryan Jobson.  

Six women (including Prézeau-Stephenson) prepared blog posts in advance about the role of sewing in their families. After contemplating and sharing these stories, they came together, bringing assorted scraps of fabric from home. The result was a multimedia performance experience, documented through pictures and texts from both students and artist. The Fabrication of the Creole Woman Statement of Purpose

L’arc-en-ciel (2014). Atis nan kay la, Pacot, Port-au-prince. Photos by Josué Azor.  

During an innovative event organized by the cultural association Akoustik Prod, owners of historic gingerbread houses in the neighborhood of Pacot opened their doors to artistic presentations. Accompanied by a band, the public followed an itinerary that included Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson's action, using recovered clothing with the seven colors of the rainbow. The performance was a means of creating awareness on recent homophobic attacks in Port-au-Prince by advocating LGBT rights in Haiti.

The Fréda Circle(2013), 5:00. Haiti: Royaume de ce monde, Jacmel. Documentation by Maksaens Denis  

The myth of the seductive Erzulie Fréda is invoked by the Vodoun chanting of seven women while they embroider petals of artificial flowers on a transparent veil circle measuring five meters in diameter. Originally conceived as spiritual and emotional support for women who lost their partners during the earthquake, the essential components of this piece celebrating womanhood and solidarity are spoken word and embroidering.


Barbara Prézeau Stephenson lives and works in Port-au-Prince and Paris. Her retrospective exhibition at the Haitian Museum of Art (2007) meant a turning point in her career, the traditional media such as painting and sculpture have been gradually disappearing from her work since then and it is now oriented towards performance. With Soie, fleurs, mistral at the (Frioul, 2005 Le complexe de Cendrillon (The Cinderella Complex) (Paris, 2008 and Deuil/Mourning (Barbados, 2011) the artist explores the universal making process of the feminine identity and in particular the education of Creole women. Hence her performances draw from elements of theatrical frameworks, a moment, a place, and an action. Her own approach to durational performance very often involves embroidering of artificial flower petals sometimes for whole month and others for eight hours.

Charo Oquet, Mami Watta, (2007), Santo Domingo

Healing The Dual Wounds:

Body Politics and/in Saint-Domingue

By Alanna Lockward

A recent account of the repeated robberies that have taken place at a cultural art center in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, added tears of laughter to my bewilderment. How is it possible that the thieves “visited” the place so often that artist Alberto Khoury, the Director of the Center, after returning from filing a complaint for a burglary, found that he had been hit again by yet another break-in? These types of anecdotes are a part of everyday life in the Dominican Republic, where the level of criminality is significantly higher than in Haiti.[1] Despite evidence to the contrary, however, people commonly assume the opposite to be true. And it is precisely in these epistemic limbos, in this tragic accumulation of misconceptions, that both populations have experienced the coloniality of sensing, being, and doing that Jacques Viau Renaud epically characterizes in his poem “Nada Permanece Tanto como el Llanto¨ (Nothing Lingers so Long as the Weeping).

The following ideas about performance art on the island and among its diasporas gravitate around the seeds of a shared humanity depicted in Viau Renaud's meticulous, lyrical account of a chain of historical circumstances that has the power to overshadow any aim of atonement. These seeds are as present as the shared wounds—“Dual Wounds,” as I call them here—resonating with the phenomenal political and literary legacy of this martyr and poet, articulated always from the notion of the inseparability of our co-existence:

We took refuge under the distracted shadow of trees
and from them
ran to meet the mutilated life,
we removed the earth
and found the essence of love
deeply rooted in the hearts of our dead.
(Renaud 1985, 108)[2]

At the moment of Viau's untimely death, visual artists, poets, and intellectuals were self-organized in different collectives,[3] in circumstances still unparalleled in Saint-Domingue's [4] history. The legacy of the radical art of the 1960s in the Dominican Republic, a direct outcome of the struggle against dictatorial rule and, later, of the U.S. invasion of 1965, was defined by the budding solidarity between the two populations of Saint-Domingue. This unity found concrete expression in the more than 100 anti-Duvalier exiles who fought side-by-side with Dominicans against this second U.S. military occupation.[5]

Many have consecrated poetry as a healing tool, and the words of Audre Lorde (1984) are particularly relevant for the ideas that follow:

Over the last few years, writing a novel on tight finances, I came to appreciate the enormous differences in the material demands between poetry and prose. As we reclaim our literature, poetry has been the major voice of poor, working class, and Colored women. […] The actual requirements to produce the visual arts also help determine, along class lines, whose art is whose. (116)[6]

In this powerful statement, Lorde summarizes the distinctive synergy between healing, poetry, political activism, and the visual arts. This phenomenon is clearly observable in the way performance practices are embodied by Saint-Domingue's artists, who are the focus of this examination. This is also characteristic of the practices of artists in the Diaspora, which have been a central concern of my curatorial and theoretical work. The quintessential Caribbean experience of economic and political exile demands to be analyzed in the context of two brutal dictatorships and their immediate successors.[7] This particular de-metaphorization[8] of colonial and imperial wounds is what I intend to highlight with the use of the term “Dual Wounds.” In their shared (diasporic) social persona, the inhabitants of this exceptional Antillean imaginary are constantly confronted with the freshness of the blood shed by two barbarous dictators. In Saint-Domingue, the heroes and heroines of anti-dictatorial activism and their descendants are now sharing the same moment in history with their murderers and their offspring. The grandsons of Duvalier and Trujillo , both born and raised outside of the island, are currently politically active in their respective countries.

Beyond eloquent and ultimately effective, the recent protest organized by victims and descendants of the Duvalier regime used political performance to sabotage president Michel Martelly's plans to honor Jean-Claude Duvalier's burial with the protocol of a former head of state. Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson, one of the four featured artists in this multimedio, took part in the protest denouncing these plans. It is empowering to report that this collective performance was successful, with the support of those living on the island as well as those in the diaspora. It is also important to note that many of its main instigators were women.

As opposed to Haiti, where Papa Doc and Baby Doc are practically indistinguishable, canonical historiography systematically avoids scrutinizing the continuities between Trujillo's dictatorship and Joaquín Balaguer's “constitutional” rulings. In 1996 elections, the presidential candidate, José Francisco Peña Gómez, a Dominican of Haitian descent who had the support of half of the population and who was orphaned by Trujillo`s 1937 massacre,[9] was defeated by a coalition between Balaguer and the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), founded and ruled by Juan Bosch, Balaguer’s traditional “enemy.” The refusal to allow a politician of Haitian descent to rule the country was at the heart of this infamous alliance, known as “El Frente Patriótico Nacional” (The National Patriotic Front). Since its first victory in 1996, the PLD has capitalized on the anti-Haitian sentiments institutionalized by the Trujillo-Balaguer succession, and is currently in control of the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches of government. Evidencing the same pendular dynamic of power perfected during the Trujillo-Balaguer era,[10] the PLD has only lost power for a short period between 2000-2004 during almost two decades of its political rule. The winning candidate, Hipólito Mejía, from Peña-Gómez' party, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), is currently one of the public figures openly supporting the political ambitions of Trujillo's grandson, who has smoothly entered the local sphere without major public upheavals. In other words, the intensification of anti-Haitian sentiments and policies, consecrated in the shameful Constitutional Court Ruling 168/13 (CCR 168/13),[11] is taking place in an atmosphere of uncanny socio-political consensus.

Until CCR 168/13, the 1937 massacre of Haitian citizens ordered by Trujillo has been the most prominent subject of conversation on Haitian territory and its Diaspora with regards to its neighbors. In my experience, having spent long periods of time living in Haiti since 1994, this is a fact about our shared history that every single Haitian knows. In contrast, Jean-Pierre Boyer's 22-year rule of the entire island only has a 12-line mention in school books. Correspondingly, the same happens with the absence of Dominican characters in Haitian literature. This might also explain the ways in which the same phenomenon extends to the visual arts. According to French literary critic Léon-François Hoffmann:

Up to the American occupation, and despite the turbulent history and frequent contacts between the two countries, the Dominican Republic and its citizens are virtually absent in Haitian literature. There is, in my knowledge, no historical novel about the invasion of Dessalines, the occupation under Boyer, the invasions of Soulouque. Nor a novel or a story that is set in the Dominican Republic, or a protagonist is a Dominican or is about a Haitian-Dominican community. It is as if the writers had decided to treat their neighbors with contempt and silence. (2008, 349)[12]

Eliú Almonte, as well as some intellectuals like Freddy Prestol Castillo—who, in his novel El Masacre se Pasa a Pie (The Massacre Is Crossed on Foot), recreates his own account of what Dominicans call “El Corte” (The Cutting) and Haitians refer to as “Kout kouto a” (the knife blow)—has dealt with this moment in history in a rigorous manner.

In 2000, Almonte presented the commissioned installation La isla ofendida at X-Teresa Arte Actual in Mexico City as part of a group show dedicated to Dominican artists in the island and the Diaspora. Two Plexiglas maps of the island were mirroring each other, one on the floor, the other hanging from the ceiling. On the floor, the different racializing categories used in Dominican territory to “classify” people across class divides were printed in red, covered with bare bones sprinkled with sea salt. On top, the second map was completely covered with dozens of parsley bunches.[14] The challenging self-explanatory allegory to the 1937 Massacre represented by this herb, suspended from above, suggested a permanent state of alertness with regards to this indeed inescapable issue in our shared history. The inclusion of Almonte's provocative and redemptory piece in this exhibition responds to my insistence regarding the inclusion of Haiti in what is considered to be a “Dominican” exhibition or essay. This exclusion is present throughout the Spanish-colonized Caribbean, where, until very recently, the irrefutable historical relevance of Haiti, especially of the Haitian Revolution, has been persistently disavowed.[15] In this sense, the iconoclastic work of Eliú Almonte is explicit in many aspects. Almonte's commitment to political commentary in his installations and performances, combined with the healing tools of historical re-enactments, are an integral part of his practice, as well as of his pioneering time-based festivals.

Together with the artist collective that started the Festival Cálido Invierno (Warm Winter Festival) in Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros in the late ‘90s, Almonte has championed a series of international performance festivals since 2003 in Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo where international guests and established artists, such as Mónica Ferreras, Pascal Meccariello, Charo Oquet, Jorge Pineda, and Raúl Recio, have participated alongside emerging ones such as Fermín Ceballos, Caryana Castillo, and Lina Aybar.

In the first Chocopop festival (2003), for example, multi-award-wining artist Raúl Recio presented his celebrated alter ego “La Salsa” for the first time. In a later edition, Jessica Hirst, from San Diego, decided to stay on the island permanently. These festivals have consistently offered free workshops with international artists, such as Richard Martel, Valentín Torrens, and Bartolomé Ferrando, among others.

As in the case of Eliú Almonte, historical and collective memory's re-enactments are also recurrent in the works of Teresa María Díaz Nerio, Jochi Muñoz, Sasha Huber, and Alberto Khoury.

In Plantation, Alberto Khoury excavates the prevalence of colonial amnesia in a current architectural project in Puerto Plata, which has used this name to revamp a former plantation. Similarly, an agitating commentary on architectural patrimony and oblivion is also materialized in Eliú Almonte's La Casa (2011).

A series of recent performances by Jochi Muñoz, inspired by and dedicated to Jacques Viau Renaud, testify to the poet’s enduring anti-imperialist legacy on Dominican soil.

Born and raised in Switzerland by a Haitian Mother and a Swiss father, Sasha Huber has only been able to visit Haiti twice in her life. The epic narratives of her nation, as well as her family history as the daughter of a painter and granddaughter of the prominent Haitian painter Georges Ramponneau, have permeated her development as an artist.

In the Shooting Back series,Huber literally “shoots back” at the narrative of the brutal repression of Duvalierism, something she did not experience personally, but that defines her sensing, being, and thinking in the world. (This is also the case with Teresa María Díaz Nerio's mimicry of Trujillo's persona, discussed below.) The physicality of this action and the sound of the stapling machine also operate as a self-healing method, assisting the artist in the process of facing the “Dual Wounds” of Saint-Domingue. According to Huber, each staple represents the death of countless indiviDuals as part of the tragic legacies of Duvalierism.

From the dictatorial legacies of the Dual Wound, in Throne of Gold and Trujillo's Island (2007) Teresa María Díaz Nerio echoes the narratives of a history that she, as well as Huber, initially heard from historical and familiar accounts and then spent considerable time researching. In these two performances, Díaz Nerio comments on the hyper-masculinity embedded in an autocratic persona. Avoiding oversimplifications by mimicry or caricaturization, these portrayals rely on a hieratic mode that is also present in the rigidity of Hommage à Sara Bartman, a South African Khoisan woman who was exhibited in Europe in the early 1800s in the context of the freak shows popular in that period. In 2002, Bartman was acknowledged as a national heroine thanks to the activism of Black feminists and the direct intervention of Nelson Mandela. Frozen in a landscape of epic dimensions, these historical reverberations are also accompanied by a meticulous manual work. Very often I have been asked if this image is a sculpture, and indeed the artist created this costume with clear three-dimensional intentions. The polarized, gendered dramatizations at both ends of the spectrum, on the one side the despotic hyper-virility and on the other the tragically exploited nudity of Sara Bartman—objectified to the point of absurdity—find a different resolution in Díaz Nerio’s latest work, Ni 'mamita', Ni 'mulatita' (2013). This lecture-performance, based on the hyper-sexualized “mulata” and the “faithful servant,” or “mamita,” illustrates how these figures emerged in Cuba during colonialism, often becoming symbols of nationalist renderings after independence.

Similar resonances on racialization in Cuba are articulated in Gina Athena Ulysses’slyrical defiance of anti-Black racism in Cuba:

I wanted to discover my Cuba
get a sense of my Cuba
not the well guarded tours designed
to keep you away from the realities
that are being silenced
because the revolution worked
But it didn’t fix everything
because the revolution worked
But it didn’t fix everything
because the revolution worked
But it couldn’t fix everything
It could not fix everything
so now we pretend
that black blood flows through us
that we have black friends blackness is Cuba
that Cuba is a black woman with a big behind
and a fat cigar in her mouth. (2004)[21]

In a radically new direction, the staged paralysis of Díaz Nerio's previous works is transformed into dance and spoken word in the lecture-performance Ni 'mamita', Ni 'mulatita' (2013). Alternately dancing a rumba, screening sequences of the Cuban film Yambaó (1957), and reading her analysis of the stereotypical presentations of Caribbean women during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, Díaz Nerio departs from the hypothesis that

These roles are so ingrained in Caribbean women’s view of themselves that it

The film features rumbera Ninón Sevilla and is set on a plantation in 1850’s Cuba. Sevilla plays the role of a “mulata” called Yambaó, personifying Ochún, the goddess of love in Cuban Yoruba religion, and a maroon heroine nurtured and trained by her grandmother, Caridad, in the safe space of a hidden cave. Her character is brown-faced, a common practice of the films of this popular genre of Mexican and Cuban films of the ‘40s and ‘50s known as “Rumbera Cinema,” embodying a category that Díaz Nerio has named “Light Skin Blackmestizas.” The stereotypes of the domesticated enslaved “mamita” or hyper-sexualized seductress “mulatita” played by these actresses are pervasive still today. The unmistakably hyper-mediatized persona of Jennifer López as a “hot Latina” is a case in point. As Kamala Kempadoo (2014) points out,

[These] two main stereotypes of Black femininity have been identified as specific to the [Caribbean] region during slavery. The first drew from general perceptions of Africans by Europeans as “slaves by nature” and defined slave women as passive, downtrodden, subservient, resigned workers. The second centred on Black female sexuality and sexual functions whereby notions of slave women as sexually promiscuous, “cruel and negligent as mother, fickle as a wife,” and immoral, became widespread. (n.p.)[23]

By challenging these hetero-normative parameters, Díaz Nerio provides a much-needed space for knowledge creation from a Black woman's perspective, honoring at the same time African ancestral devotions. In her performance at Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, as part of BE.BOP 2014. SPIRITUAL REVOLUTIONS AND THE 'SCRAMBLE' FOR AFRICA, she was playing the clapsticks, an instrument of Cuban Rumba that marks the rhythm, while the audience took their seats. Dressed in yellow, the color that identifies Ochún as the goddess of rivers and gold, she rang bells at different moments to invoke the loas. Towards the end, as a final decolonizing [24] gesture, Díaz Nerio removed from her neck an iruke, a consecrated horse tail amulet used in Cuban Yoruba religion, in this case made from her own hair, sprinkled with gold leaves and a nazar boncuğu, a Turkish evil eye pendant. By swinging this intercultural amulet above the heads of the audience and whispering a protection blessing, a moment of intimate communion materialized in the name of some of the spiritualities that inform her daily life in Amsterdam.

Hair as a signifier of racialization, particularly in relation to Blackness, is a recurrent theme in iconic works by artists such as Ellen Gallagher and Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter. The level of involvement of Black women with their hair is epic, and its implications could be considered encyclopedic. The multiplicity of codes brought up by the interplays within a constructed Otherness and the dialectic between an empowered self-affirmation and an ostracized self-deprecation with regards to a white hegemonic norm of “beauty” and “cleanliness” are already a subject of many scientific publications and art projects in the U.S., the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

In Dynamo (2013) Élodie Barthélémy's melodramatic dreadlocks are paired with classical music and action painting, two emblematic examples of Western discursive hegemonies. The dreads of the maroon,[26] of the rebel that Bob Marley popularized in an almost immeasurable manner, are paired to a cello concerto, as well as to the signature of Jackson Pollock’s legacy: action painting. The juxtaposition of these elements is yet another lyrical provocation to the hegemony of Western canons.

In this earlier performance presented in the garden of Fokal, Barthélemy honored women's resilience using hair as a medium at the 4th Transcultural Forum of Contemporary Art organized by Fondation AfricAmérica. Since 2004, this transdisciplinary festival founded by Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson and Maksaens Denis has successfully brought together Black Diaspora artists with those living on the African continent. Having spent long periods of time in Senegal and Mali, Maksaens Denis has created a unique body of work, interweaving complex video-art installations and collaborations with visual artists, actors, and choreographers on both sides of the Atlantic.

As noted above, artist collectives facilitating a space for performance are equally relevant in the Dominican Republic. In her interview with Maja Horn, Sayuri Guzmán explains how the Chocopop initiative from Puerto Plata was her inspiration to start similar events entirely dedicated to performance in Santo Domingo and the satellite city of San Cristóbal. In Braids (2009) she bridges the womanhood of the shared island in a gesture of solidarity.

Joiri Minaya, who has won several national awards with performances, videos, and installations that rely frequently on hair as a medium, experimented with her peers during a residency at Skowhegan to create a landscape of interlaced humanity invoking on her own terms the power of hair as a multidimensional signifier.

Carefully "staged" in the diaspora, in the South Bronx, NDE's adoptive home, the braiding of Nicolás Dumit Estévez hair was part of the process of facing his own contradictory relationship to Blackness. In Borderless (2008), the artist travelled from his home in the South Bronx to his birthplace in Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros, Dominican Republic, in order to trace any genealogical roots that he may possibly have to the neighboring Republic of Haiti.

An equally puzzling and revealing space of shared trust in the island is manifested in the startling success of Dominican hairdressers in Haitian territory, elsewhere in the Caribbean, and beyond. The ambition of approaching whiteness at all costs is at the core of the phenomenal skills cultivated in this trade by generations of Dominican women. Accompanied by their legendary entrepreneurial stamina, they have achieved a unique status that facilitates their social mobility, conjuring commonplace associations with the sex industry.[27]

In the series Mami Watta (2007), known in Dominican Vodoun as Santa Marta la Dominadora, Charo Oquet has reenacted the powerful narrative of this mighty loa. Santa Marta la Dominadora has protected Charo Oquet in her studio in New Zealand since the early 1980s. Later, Oquet rediscovered her at a friend’s house in a collection of African arts publications, where Mami Watta was represented with red hair and a blue torso. The chromolithograph, reproduced in a compilation of African art at the Smithsonian, reappeared to her some time later in the Mercado Modelo of Santo Domingo, located in El Pequeño Haití (Little Haiti). The image, made in the 19th century by a devoted German husband married to a female snake charmer, is an irreplaceable element in the altars of the cautiously named “Popular Religion,” so-called whenever people wish to avoid saying Dominican Vodoun.The term, coined at the beginning of the 1990s by the Dominican and Puerto Rican anthropologists Soraya Aracena and José Francisco Alegría Pons[28] after years of living with the people in a batey, is still controversial for some. Fascination with Santa Marta la Dominadora, the giver of material goods, personal power, and beauty, the one who achieves impossible loves, irrevocably linked Charo Oquet’s destiny with that of her ancestors. The most popular of all loas in the pantheon of Dominican Vodoun,[29] Santa Marta la Dominidora is the wife of Saint Elias, the Baron of the Graveyard. While in the throes of Gagá,[30] Oquet met Santa Marta once again in the fire of the fearful Petró beings of the Batey La Ceja, where she arrived more than ten years after having painted that first canvas in her Antipodean studio. After obtaining an arts degree based on her research on Gagá,[31] Oquet has subsequently continued her documentation of this celebration in the Batey San Luis, creating an extraordinary documentation on its way to becoming a full-length documentary on the Arrayanos, or Dominicans of Haitian descent.

Transgressing the class boundaries that are so prevalent and visible in our Caribbean societies—above all with regards to racialization—is a constant in her performance pieces, which have been very often dedicated to healing the Dual Wounds. In one episode of this series, she submerges herself in a neighborhood plastic pool with the approval of its owners. Improvisation and interaction with existing environmental elements, as well as with the audience, is also intrinsic to her practice. Another component of the Mami Watta series was the reversal of unwritten rules of beauty parlor behavior by means of using hair as a signifying spiritual reference. A red wig became the catalyst that “imbued” the powers of Mami Watta to the hairdressers. By the same token, she elevated the status of the only Haitian employee in this beauty parlor, palpably bullied by her co-workers, and performed the same duties on her feet as the pedicurist had previously done with the artist, also using the red wig as symbolic of the interchangeable and constructed nature of hegemonic notions of self and other. In this manner, Oquet once again dismantles class boundaries with a performative gesture towards healing made famous by a Jewish anti-establishment activist more than 2000 years ago.

As mentioned above, audience interaction is vital in Oquet’s performative endeavors. In Mírame a los ojos (Look Me in the Eyes) Oquet asked Dominican and Haitian passersby to stop for a moment and exchange a symbolic gift that she herself provided. They were asked to look at each other in the eyes. This self-explanatory gesture created discomfort, but sometimes it achieved a moment of mutual recognition.

In All Tied Up/Atados, Oquet deals with the metaphor of inseparability of the duality—the twin principle of the Marassá, theloa that symbolizes the status of Saint-Domingue as the only Caribbean space with two island-nations sharing the same territory. Charo Oquet tied herself back-to-back to a Haitian vendor outside the Museo de Arte Moderno in an action reminiscent of Tehching Hsieh and Linda Montano’s legendary durational piece. The impossibility of moving in any direction without the consent of the other is dramatically accentuated by the choice of tying both counterparts back to back.

Élodie Barthélemy stages the rope as a symbol of the multidimensional character of human relations in Cordes à Cailloux (2014), a collaborative work with the rope acrobat Nicolle Perrier and musicians Chiara Simeone and Joran Le Nabat. Sometimes the rope is in the middle, somehow elevated, and others it duplicates the physicality of the borders between the two women on stage. The dramaturgy is deliberately enigmatic and consists of the juxtaposition of the elements on stage and its manipulation by the performers.

There is a self-evident connection with the idiosyncratic dual collective subconscious of the Saint-Domingue condition. Barthélemy is tied-up and frees herself from her counterpart, revealing the tensions and frustrations of the inescapable Marassá status of Saint-Domingue and, in doing so, also makes her potential for achieving her own healing visible.

I wish to argue, as in my previous conversations with Dominican critic and curator Sara Hermann, that this association of entanglements and inescapable realities typifies the particular diasporic stamina of the Saint-Dominguecondition within what the Spanish artist and philosopher Jana Leo has appropriately called El viaje sin distancia (The Journey without Distance). According to Leo (2006), rather than disassociating travel from distance, this notion suggests that reaching a distant place does not necessarily require a journey (xix). Following the author’s own wishes, I engage this arresting concept somewhat differently, taking the hypothesis into my hands own hands as an object to be delimited instead of merely applied.[33]

According to Dominican and Haitian statistics[34] the local economies are significantly supported by international remittances, known as remesas in Spanish and as transfé in Haitian Creole. Their role in these economies is significant, and helps to demonstrate the extent to which, in each imaginary, the absence of those that have departed is truly illusory. The proportion of remittance derived from the sex work of Dominican women abroad, moreover, has yet to be quantified by government statistics, painfully illustrating the double standards at play. In Entrevista con el taxista, produced in collaboration with the Shampoo artist collective, Dominican-York poet Juan Dicent illuminates these contradictions his heartbreaking social commentary.

The financial entanglements between Saint-Domingue communities in the Diaspora and their local island counterparts reflect the mirroring nature of their social and political interactions. Therefore, the Saint-Domingue diasporic condition, as an experience, becomes part of the narrative of self-identification even for those that have always lived on the island. Obviously, each experience is informed differently across gender, class, and racialization, but what is important here is to highlight how this communal diasporic-self is transformed beyond geographical boundaries into an identifiable territory.

In 2005, David Pérez Karmadavis asked a Haitian vendor to write his own diagnosis of the traumatic relationship between both nations on a piece of paper. He then had this message tattooed on his arm in public during the first Festival de Arte Corporal in Caracas. Although the artist has dedicated many of his performance pieces to exploring the relation between both populations, he has never himself visited Haiti. Since he does not speak Haitian Creole, Karmadavis had no idea of what the piece of paper said. He only found out later, when Haitians would talk to him in the street asking him why he had that sentence tattooed on his arm. This is, in the strictest sense, a conversational piece, and as durational as it gets, for that matter. The text says that all the problems between the two nations have been created by their respective economic and political elites: “Biznis gouvenman benefis gouvenman.”

The intention of reaching out and transgressing racialized class boundaries evident in this work is also a distinctive component of performance practices on both sides of the island. Interventions in the public sphere in relation to political issues are recurrent, as exemplified earlier in the anti-Baby Doc Asire protest, as well as in collective cleansing rituals performed in and outside of the white cube. A pioneering action, La Papa Móvil (2001) by Nicolás Dumit Estévez is a case in point.

La Papa Móvil , part of the Días Hábiles event, was an action that took place one afternoon in the exploited, densely populated areas of Santo Domingo. Nicolás Dumit Estévez deconstructed a Papal parade by transmuting the Pope into an oversized potato, which he carried ceremoniously in a small shrine affixed to the back of his bicycle. In Spanish, the same word signifies potato and Pope ("papa"), and the term “Papamóvil” is, of course, widely recognized as the name of the official carriage used by the Pope. The double spectrum of irony implied by the title and its potential to be easily understood by a local and international audience appealed strongly to me.

When the artist first sent me this proposal from the Bronx, I had recently relocated to Germany after a couple of years of intense work as an investigative journalist and cultural editor in Santo Domingo. Estévez and I had never met before. We started an ardent exchange of emails that culminated with the successful production of La Papa Mòvil as part of the Primera Muestra Internacional de Performance, a guest event within the III Festival Internacional de Teatro de Santo Domingo.

In this action, the re-appropriation of the freebies distributed during political campaigns targeted the daily fight for survival of the majority of Dominicans, who are willing to grab whatever is promised to them without hesitation. Vouchers for five-pounds sacks of potatoes, to be exchanged that same evening in front of the Museo de Arte Moderno, were literally snatched from the artist's hands. The fake and real policemen that accompanied him had a hard time preserving his physical integrity—a penetrating comment on populist tactics overlapped with a criticism of the collusion between religious hierarchy and the state that is endemic to many Caribbean and Latin American countries. The artist, moreover, successfully conveyed the never-ending search for the boundaries between life and art, a main source of his inspiration. Trust was embodied in the presence of those who silently and in an orderly manner waited to receive their sack of potatoes, sometimes holding their neighbors' vouchers in their hands. This was indeed a communion of mutual trust, since the artist's belief in the potential of his action was equally matched by the audience, resulting in a safe space for all, in a refuge from the painful ubiquity of unfulfilled political and religious promises.

Healing as a tool for confronting personal and social pain is very much present in public and private displays, such as the legendary home installations by Mario Benjamin, who created fantastic scenarios in his own house, sometimes with an audience present. The photographic documentation remains as a powerful reminder of the artist's often tormented fantasies.

Another intimate performance revealingly antithetical to the elaborate staging of Trujillo's Island, is Teresa María Díaz Nerio’s painstaking intervention of the interior of an abandoned factory, plagued with fungus, water, and spider webs, during which she further darkened the surfaces with tar, exacerbating their spectrality. This apparently futile exercise lasted around five months, during which time the abandoned factory also served as her temporary dwelling. As an instinctive action outside of a performative framework, it took Díaz Nerio some years before becoming aware that her silent moves around the phantasmagorical space that she found so fascinating was indeed a private performance.

A work outside of what Huey Copeland (2014) refers to as “the storied history of performance” (44)[35] is Miami-based Adler Guerrier's Is What Chomsky Said about Prometheus (Nine to Five) (2001), a three-channel video featuring a man in a suit carrying a briefcase. He waits at the bus stop, walks down the street, walks into a building, enters a cafeteria. His activities, however, begin at 9 p.m., when it is dark and the downtown area is completely deserted. This is definitely the view of an immigrant that sees himself as part of the scene, not as an accessory. There is a strong sense of dignity and self-respect in this perspective. According to Guerrier (2014) this film was based on three jazz compositions: Charles Mingus’s Haitian Fight Song (1955), Duke Ellington’s Fleurette Africaine (African Flower) (1963), and the Modern Jazz Quartet’s Valeria (1972)(80). Haitian Fight Song is the piece more strongly connected to the above-mentioned sequences of the film, where the idea of the Situationist's flâneur[36] is linked to the maroon leaders who conceived and ultimately achieved the first successful uprising of enslaved people. This particular type of awareness implied by the presence of the Black body in the urban landscape represents both a transgression and an affirmation of being. In Guerrier's native Haiti, young people also transgress the unmarked boundaries of class and racialization by becoming contemporary pa gen pwogram, defying pervasive notions of belonging attached to public spaces such as those beaches that, until very recently, were only accessible to the elite, as well as the streets of Pétion-Ville, which today are as socially promiscuous as the traditionally crowded areas of downtown Port-au-Prince. This dislocation of the “legitimacy” of landscapes reduces any attempt at social engineering to an exercise in futility. The illegality of the Black body is a de facto impossibility in Haiti, and the absurdity of its criminalization is what keeps the legacy of the Haitian Revolution a glorious reminder in the face of Ferguson, et al. Here the Black body in the landscape has a decolonial history that is as real as it gets, a living memory that has been consistently and painfully erased by colonial archives on the African continent and elsewhere.

An approach to subjectivity with a camouflaged strategy opposite to Guerrier’s is palpable in different performance works by Jean-Ulrick Désert, who was born in Port-au-Prince, raised in the U.S. (as Guerrier), and is currently based in Berlin. At an art school in The Netherlands, for example, he hired a white male to play his role as an art teacher, taking advantage of the presumed Europeanness of his name (White Man Project, 2004). The group of students never realized that the Black man present in the room was actually the “real” teacher.

Underlining the conundrums of absence-presence in performance art, he has conceived a healing action for what I refer to as “post-earthquake healing performance,” poetically embraced in works by Sasha Huber and Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson, discussed below. Bol du Ciel is an elegiac action conceived by Désert to mourn the earthquake victims and their survivors. A poster reproducing the landscape of the sky at the official time when the earthquake of 10 January 2010 occurred portrays each of the 750 stars with a metal low-relief miniature profile of Josephine Baker. Crushed to form a ball, the posters will be sold by a street vendor holding on her/his head a typical market basket. She/he will offer the artist's work for a nominal fee with a simple proclamation: "Bol du Ciel.” When opened, the buyer will see in this crushed paper relevant information about the performance in Haitian Creole, French, English, and German. The physical presence of the artist is redundant in this piece, which is a dynamic that permeates some of his recent performances as explained above. This action is still awaiting its crystallization on Haitian soil but was presented as an installation at the major exhibition “Haïti, Deux Siecles de Creation Artistique” (Haiti, Two Hundred Years of Artistic Creation; 19 November 2014–15 February 2015) at the Grand Palais in Paris.

In Haïti Cherie, yet another private performance, Sasha Huber dresses symbolically with the colors of the Haitian flag while drawing angels in the snow. Her impotent grief, intensified by distance, has an individual and social undertone, distinctively spiritual and formally executed with her characteristic visual precision.

In The Fréda Circle (2013),[37] the myth of the seductive Erzulie Fréda is invoked by the Vodoun chanting of seven women while they embroider petals of artificial flowers on a transparent veil circle measuring five meters in diameter. Originally conceived as spiritual and emotional support for women who lost their partners during the earthquake, Prézeau-Stephenson’s The Fabrication of the Creole Woman takes up the essential components of this piece celebrating womanhood and solidarity, as well as spoken word and embroidery.

In preparation for the performance, six women (including Prézeau-Stephenson) prepared blog posts about the role of sewing in their families. After contemplating and sharing these stories, they came together, bringing assorted scraps of fabric from home. The result was a multimedia performance experience, documented through pictures and texts, and dedicated to Audre Lorde. Mirroring the legacy of this inspiring Caribbean diaspora Black feminist, the body politics and knowledge creation of Saint-Domingueartists sharing their Dual Wounds have been changing the tone and subject of the conversation on aesthetics, aesthesis, gender, spirituality, and healing, among other liberation agendas. By means of re-interpreting socio-political misconceptions across racialized class boundaries and filling historical vacuums using performance art as a medium, they are facilitating much needed curative spaces on the island and beyond.


Alanna Lockward is a Berlin based Dominican author and decolonial catalyst. She is the founding director of Art Labour Archives, an exceptional platform centered on theory, political activism and art. Her interests are Caribbean marronage discursive and mystical legacies in time-based practices, critical race theory, decolonial aesthetics/aesthesis, Blak feminism and womanist ethics. Lockward is the author of Apremio: apuntes sobre el pensamiento y la creación contemporánea desde el Caribe (Cendeac, 2006), a collection of essays, the short novel Marassá y la Nada (Santuario 2013) and Un Haití Dominicano. Tatuajes fantasmas y narrativas bilaterales (1994-2014), a compilation of her investigative work on the history and current challenges between both island-nations (Santuario 2014).

She was cultural editor of Listín Diario, research journalist of Rumbo magazine and columnist of the Miami Herald and is currently a columnist of Her essays and reviews have been widely published internationally by Afrikadaa, Atlántica, ARTECONTEXTO, Arte X Excelencias, Art Nexus, Caribbean InTransit and Savvy Journal. In 2014 she was the guest columnist of Camera Austria.

At the Museo de Arte Moderno (Santo Domingo) Lockward was appointed Director of International Affairs (1988) and was designated as Selection Jury of the XX Bienal Nacional de Artes Visuales (1996) and as Award Jury in its 26 edition (2011).

She has been a guest lecturer at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, the Decolonial Summer School Middelburg, the University of Warwick, Dutch Art Institute and Goldsmiths University of London and has been a panelist at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (South Africa) and Duke, Columbia and Princeton Universities in the US. She is academic advisor of Transart Institute and is associated scholar of Young Scholars Network Black Diaspora and Germany. She has conceptualized and curated the groundbreaking trans-disciplinary meeting BE.BOP. BLACK EUROPE BODY POLITICS (2012-2014) @ Ballhaus Naunynstrasse.

Alanna Lockward has been awarded by the Allianz Cultural Foundation, the Danish Arts Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers. Her first documentary project on Black Liberation Theology and the transnational history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) received the production prize FONPROCINE 2013.


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———. 1965. Prólogo. In Permanencia del llanto. Santo Domingo: Ediciones del Frente Cultural.

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Mignolo, Walter. 2012. “Decolonial Aesthesis and Other Options Related to Aesthetics.” In BE.BOP 2012: Black Europe Body Politics, eds. Alanna Lockward and Walter Mignolo. Berlin: Ballhaus Naunynstrasse.

Oquet, Charo. 1999. Honor Thesis. Prof. Manuel Torres. Florida International University.

“Programa de mejora de la información y procedimientos de los Bancos Centrales en el area de remesas.” 2010. Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos. República Dominicana. Fondo Multilateral de Inversiones. Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo.

Ulysse, Gina Athena. 2004. “Circles of Power and Children of Resistance: Athena’s Rant on Her Rules of Engagement.” Manuscript.

Viau Renaud, Jacques. 1985. Poesía Completa. Santo Domingo: CEDEE.

­­———. 2006. Poesía Completa. Second Edition. Berlin: Ediciones del Cielonaranja.

———. 2010. Poesía Completa. Third Edition. Berlin: Ediciones del Cielonaranga.

Zorach, Rebecca. 2014. “Place Becomes Sweet and Great: A Conversation with Adler Guerrier.” In Adler Guerrier: Formulating a Plot, ed. Diana Nawi, 77–96.Exhibition Catalogue. Miami: Perez Art Museum Miami.


[1] At the moment of writing this text, Fritz Cinéas, Haiti’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, was robbed in his house by two policemen and four civilians. During his visit to the national police headquarters for a press conference on the matter, his cellular phone was apparently stolen. After prompt inquiries, the phone was recovered. The incident has been explained as a result of the chaotic atmosphere of the press conference. The phone's disappearance, whether accidental or criminal, is a painful illustration of the absolute insecurity that the population must endure on a daily basis and the systematic involvement of the police in their affairs. See Link

[2] “Nos refugiamos bajo las sombras distraídas de los árboles y desde ellas corrimos al encuentro de la vida mutilada, removimos la tierra y encontramos las raíces del amor profundamente arraigadas al corazón de nuestros muertos”.

[3] A pioneering overview of these contributions is compiled in the catalogue of the exhibition Dimensiones Heroicas. Museo de Arte Moderno, July 2001, Santo Domingo.

[4] The usage of the colonial term, used by the French, to name the island is meant to emphasize the conundrums of translation and coloniality. The name is taken from the “original” Spanish colonial appellation, which also referred to the island as “La Española.” The fact that the capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo reflects the ambivalences of canonical historiographies, which very often use the same term to refer to Haiti, as well as the entire island, as Saint-Domingue. An illustrative example of the confusing politics of naming the island is materialized in C. L. R. James legendary The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938). San Domingo never existed and Hispaniola is an invention of the first U.S. military occupation. Ayïti is the original people's designation for the island. I am very thankful to Dominican historian Juan Daniel Balcácer for his insights into this issue.

[5] One of the most illustrative canonical historiographical vacuums of the Dual Wounds is materialized in the fact that both Haitians and Dominicans refer to their shared first U.S. military occupation as separate events. (Haiti 1915-1934 / Dominican Republic 1916-1924).

[6] Lorde, Audre 1984: Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference. In: Sister Outsider, Los Angeles: Freedom, P. 114-123, here p. 116.

[7] François Duvalier 1957-1971 + Jean-Claude Duvalier 1971-1986. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina 1930-1961 + Joaquín Balaguer 1960-1962; 1966 -1978 (For its ferocius prosecution of political opponents this period is known as “Los Doce Años”, The Twelve Years) and 1986 to 1996.o

[8] I am very thankful to Silvio Torres-Saillant for the inspiring conversation on this particular matter.

[9] The Massacre of an indeterminate number of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent, ordered in 1937 by the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, despotically in place for 31 years, is an open wound in the relations between the two peoples. The only local public exposure of this tragedy was championed by foreign protestant ministers. The agreement on the border of the only island in the Caribbean with these characteristics dates back to 1936, as a result of the negotiation between president Sténio Vincent and Trujillo, who added new clauses to the 'original' version of 1929 by the American occupation authorities (Haiti 1915-1934, Dominican Republic 1916-1924). The year following the ratification of this agreement, Trujillo ordered the massacre.

[10] Balaguer was defeated for re-election in 1978 and was out of power for the next eight years.

[11] This is as an interview by AlterPresse on my position on these matters: Link

[12] Hoffmann continues analyzing the specific role that Dominican identity plays in the Haitian literary imagination, which until today is strictly circumscribed to representing Dominican women as seductresses and prostitutes. Male characters are symptomatically absent.

[14] “Perejil” is parsley in Spanish. The “r” sound was used as a means to distinguish Haitians from Dominicans based on how they pronounced the ‘r’ in the word.

[15] I have done this consistently, since my physical and mental decolonization processes started in 1988, after my participation as a dancer in the Afro-Dominican choreography Vidas y Muertes de una Isla by Marilí Gallardo,dedicated to Saint-Domingue, and in 1994 after my first visit to Port-au-Prince, in my curatorial and theoretical work, as well as my work as a writer and journalist. Furthermore, after the Constitutional Ruling 168/13, I have defined myself as an epistemic Haitian and a Dominican in transit.

[22] Teresa María Díaz Nerio. Ni 'mamita' ni 'mulatita' (2013). Performance text. Manuscript.

[24] For more on Decolonial Aesthetics/Aesthesis here is the collective conceptualization published in the form of a Manifesto on May 2011:


[26] Marronage—the lifestyle, ethics, and socio-political organization of runaway communities outside the plantation system during colonialism—has been an intrinsic component of the radical imagination of countless liberation struggles in the Americas. Many of the Haitian Revolution leaders, for example, were maroons. The legendary Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey was a descendant of maroons.

[27] “Haitian men’s preference for Dominican sex workers is documented by historian Georges Corvington in one of the volumes of his extensive work Port-au-Prince au cours des ans (1743-1950). According to the author, exotic prostitution was installed in the city starting in 1923, much to the detriment of their Haitian peers. The first customers were the American soldiers, who then occupied the entire island, followed by local soldiers motivated by curiosity. At that time, upper class Haitians disapproved of the proliferation of Dominican brothels (then called “dancings”). Nowadays, after more than seven decades of uninterrupted exercise, the status of the Dominican sex worker in Haiti is recognized and forms part of the next meeting of the Bilateral Commission headed by the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries. According to a statement by the Haitian Embassy's chargé d'affaires, Guy Lamothe, ‘This new point of negotiation is the latest addition to the agenda to be discussed in January 1998.’” (Lockward 2014, 35)

[28] “4. […] That as an ‘evolving’ and continuous process, Dominican-Haitian syncretism has created and recreated a new formula (or cultural pattern) that includes Dominicans and Haitians equally. […] 5. That this double process of syncretism has given rise to a third syncretistic order: Dominican-Haitian. Due to this order, Gaga is not governed by the Haitian cultural symbolism (completely) but by the Dominican: thereby already becoming a ‘product’ on Dominican soil, by Dominicans (Josefa, Vichin, Marta, Rafaelito, etc.) and for many Dominicans. Participation in ‘The Family,’ the ‘Fami’ (in Haitian Creole), in other words in the social (the Dominican family), cultural and religious order of the Dominican demonstrates this.[…] 8. That, said in this way, we postulate a Dominican Vodou and a separate Vodou that follows a Haitian socio-religious direction.” (Alegría Pons and Aracena 1993, 62; original emphasis, my translation)

[29] “Santa Marta: She is the one of the big djabs (devils) who comes from Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo is a mystic country, the same land as Haiti. She works with a snake when she comes out. She runs the snake all over. The snake works the same as Damballa Flambeau, but it's more hot than La Flambeau. It's bigger than that. Bizango can't stop her. Sanpwel can't stop her. Santa Marta has a child. A djab who never gives his name. Only his wife knows. The spirit only listens to him. If he told her ‘Don't do something,’ she wouldn't do it. They are on a bridge, or something like a piece of mountain. They control it. Nobody can come near. No Haitian ever had this spirit. If someone had it, I've never seen it. I saw it in a dream. I always see it in a dream.” Pierrot Barra (Qtd. In Costentino 1998, 27).

[30] Traditionally, the cultural recovery of Gagá is expressed with greater discursive coherence in music, from the investigations and recording works of Luis Días, José Duluc, Irka Mateo, and Roldán Mármol, among others. In the mid ‘90s, the Cultural Foundation Bayahonda organized the series of concerts known as “Artists for Gagá.” Since very recently, I would dare to name Haiti's devastating earthquake on 12 January 2010 as the main reason for this, Dominican artists have consistently and progressively addressed Saint-Dominguerelated topics in their work. Evidence of this was the 26 Bienal Nacional de Artes Visuales (2011). As a member of the award jury, it was fascinating to notice the significant number of works that dealt with the Dual Wound. One of the most memorable ones was the award-winning Mi = muro by Pancho Rodríguez. The anthems of Haiti and the Dominican Republic were played, juxtaposed to each other in this deceivingly simple video installation. An unassuming wall built with blocks and cement divided the space. On one side of the wall a projection showed the back of a Haitian man working on a construction site. The other side showed him from the front. The artist’s interest in portraying the presence of Haitian workers in the Dominican construction industry is poetically related to his own experience with this matter, as his own house was built by Haitians that he never personally met. The artist simultaneously challenges time and space in this insightful piece. Where does the habitat of one dweller ends? Where does the presence of the permanent inhabitant start? The spirit of the Other is forever present in this space, in spite of any nationalistic propaganda. The Haitian worker received from the artist the usual amount he is paid for this craft: US$1 dollar per hour.

[31] “The Gagá is a Dominican celebration that takes place in the bateyes where the migrant Haitian sugarcane cutters live. This social-political ritual takes place during the holy week of Lent. Easter Sunday marks the end of the sugar harvest and the beginning of spring. The Gagá is bound to the sugar harvest and the sugar mill, therefore the Gagá and its societé are sub-cultures where oppressed people defy racism and the violence systematically inflicted on them by the elites and the state.” (Oquet 1999, 2-4).

[33] "This book is not a catalog of proceedings with regards to the limit. The examples that I work with are not any evidence and cannot be universalized, in fact, they resist universalization, but they do help to build a dialogue between the universal and the individual; between the abstract and the concrete; between behavior and the concept; between the mental and the physical. The text covers a range of concepts by means of outlining them without occupying them. My approach is to consider more fully some key examples explaining them and simply pointing others. The reader holds in his hands the power to expand the connections to other un-named places based on their own experience, allowing the journey to continue." (Leo 2006, xxv; my translation)

[34]In an unpublished interview, Gabriel Bidegain, chief technical advisor of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Haiti, states in this regard that:
“Remittances exceed 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and on the household level 52% reach the end of the month thanks to money transfers from their working relatives abroad. In those places, mainly in the United States, migrants have improved their educational level. 16.5% have licentiate level, masters or PhD’s. The main negative impact is the brain drain (skilled personnel at different levels migrating) and affecting the country’s development.”

According to Dominican official data:
“Dominican Republic is the sixth recipient of remittances in Latin America and the Caribbean. From the macroeconomic standpoint remittance income plays an important role, whereas in the period 2000-2007 accounted for 8% of GDP on average. According to figures from the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, the remittance income in the balance of payments increased from USD 1.689 million in 2000 to USD 3.111 million in 2008. Moreover, remittances are the second largest source of income, second only to the tourism sector.” (“Programa de mejora” 2010)

[35] “Taken together, Guerrier’s flâneur-style pictures from the late 1990s to the present offer a peculiar articulation of imagistic practice that stands in contrast both to contemporary large-format color photography, which aims for the immersive effect of a tableau, and to the storied history of performance documentation, perhaps the series’ closest analogue in terms of its structural underpinnings. […] Even more importantly, in his practice there is no initial target that spurs either action or interaction, distinguishing his work not only from performance art more broadly, but also from influential models of African diasporic urban intervention predicated on the [B]lack subject’s visual recognition by unnamed passersby. As opposed to Stanley Brouwn’s requests for directions in early 1960s Amsterdam, Adrian Piper’s cross-dressing as a black man on the make in 1970s Cambridge, or William Pope.L’s abject crawls through 1980s Manhattan, the ambit and ambition of Guerrier’s movements through space seem less testaments to the racialization of civil society and more functions of the unknowable terrain of his own subjective inclinations at a given moment in time.” (Copeland 2014, 44)

[36] “Literally translatable as ‘stroll; strolling; sauntering,’ flânerie is most often associated with a rich tradition of unencumbered, non-confrontational movement through physically and socially shifting Francophone geographies. In late 19th-century Parisian visual and poetic discourse, the aimless looking of the 'gentleman of leisure' was key to understandings of the city’s spatial transformation into a center of modern capital. For Haitian writers in the 1920s living under American occupation, the wanderings of bourgeois pa gen pwogram, meaning those with no programme or schedule, were seen as central to the gathering of native knowledges that might be amassed and mobilised in the making of a national culture. And amid the upheavals of mid-20th-century France, the related concept of the dérive, or drift—an uncharted, meandering journey through an urban landscape—would become central to the radical practice of the Situationist International, particularly group members’ exploration of ‘the effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behaviours of individuals.’” (Copeland 2014, 45)