Well it is with great shock and sadness that I write this blog in light of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Nobody could not have been shocked at the images shown in the media this past week but it was particularly difficult for those of us associated with the museum as Haiti is central to the museum's history and ethos for several reasons.
On 23 August 2007 the International Slavery Museum was opened. This is a significant date as it commemorates an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint Domingue (modern Haiti) in 1791. The date has been designated by UNESCO as Slavery Remembrance Day, a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation. Resistance to injustices and discrimination is a central theme of the International Slavery Museum.
An even more tangible link is the Freedom! scupture. The sculpture was commissioned by international development charity Christian Aid and National Museums Liverpool to mark 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007. The Freedom! sculpture is made out of recycled objects such as metal car parts and raw junk found in the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and was created by young Haitians and sculptors Eugène, Céleur and Guyodo from Atis Rezistans in collaboration with Mario Benjamin, an internationally renowned Haitian artist who has represented his country at Biennials in Venice, São Paulo and Johannesburg.
Sadly one of the other artists (not one of the people pictured above) from the Grand Rue artists collective has died, along with thousands upon thousands of his fellow Haitians in the disaster. Our heartfelt wishes go out to all those who have lost family and friends in the disaster. Haiti has a strong and proud people and I am sure that with a sustained amount of aid the country will recover and grow after this horrific disaster. Please go to the following Unicef and Foundry TV sites for further information or to make a donation.
Update 10/02/10: We received some welcome good news recently that the Haitian artist Guyodo (Frantz Jacques), along with his family, are fine, as well as several colleagues from the Grand Rue artists collective, but sadly his home was destroyed.