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In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st‐Century Haitian Art


In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st‐Century Haitian Art

September 16, 2012–January 20, 2013

“One of the most original and powerful shows of a strong fall season in Los Angeles.”
William Poundstone, ArtInfo

In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st‐Century Haitian Art explores how leading Haitian visual artists have responded to a tumultuous 21st century, an era punctuated by political upheaval, a cataclysmic earthquake, devastating hurricanes, epidemics, and continuing instability. Consisting of approximately seventy mixed-media works by established artists and a rising generation of self-taught genre-busters, the exhibition offers unflinchingly honest and viscerally compelling reactions to Haiti’s contemporary predicament.

In depicting stark realities of the Haitian (and human) condition, all of these pieces invoke the overarching presence of Bawon Samdi, the Vodou divinity who presides over key aspects of mortality, sexuality, and rebirth, and his trickster children the Gede, who are the Vodou divinities most beloved by the Haitian people. Sculptures by Grand Rue artists André Eugène, Jean Hérard Celeur, and Frantz Jacques Guyodo―crafted from used automobile parts, old computer components, and other industrial cast-offs as well as incorporating human skulls and clothing―clearly bear his imprint. So too, do heavily beaded and sequined textiles by Roudy Azor and Myrlande Constant that depict the 2010 earthquake and its aftermath. Likewise, paintings by Mario Benjamin, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Didier Civil, Frantz Zéphirin, and Edouard Duval-Carrié and site-specific installations by Maksaens Denis and  Jean Robert Celestin all proclaim Bawon Samdi and the Gedes to be paramount spirits for a nation, and perhaps a world, in extremis.


Evelyne AlcideFrantz Jacques, aka Guyodo
Roudy AzorJean Philippe Jeannot
Pierrot BarraAlphonse Jean Junior, aka Papa Da
Jean-Michel BasquiatGuerly Lauren
Clotaire BazileDubreus Lhérisson
Mario BenjaminGeorges Liautaud
Wilson BigaudSeresier Louisjuste
David BoyerStivenson Magloire
M. BrutusPascale Monnin
Myrlande ConstantAndré Pierre
Jean Hérard CeleurFrank Polyak
Didier CivilJean Claude Saintilus
Maksaens DenisLionel St. Eloi
Edouard Duval-CarriéYves Telemak
André EugèneGeorges Valris
Patrick Ganthier, aka KillyFrantz Zéphirin
Leah Gordon
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Fowler OutSpoken Conversation: The Walking Dead: Zombies in Haitian Vodou and Contemporary Popular Culture (2013)

Culture Fix: Carine Fabius on Bawon Samdi (2012)

Culture Fix: Patrick Polk on Beaded Haitian Flags (2012)

Fowler OutSpoken Lecture: Donald Cosentino on In Extremis (2012)

Press Release

Curriculum Resource Unit

Exhibition Credits

In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st-Century Haitian Art is organized and produced by the Fowler Museum at UCLA and curated by Donald J. Cosentino, UCLA Professor Emeritus of Black Atlantic Religions and Popular Culture, and Patrick A. Polk, Fowler Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Popular Arts, with Leah Gordon, the late Marilyn Houlberg, and Katherine Smith. Major support for the exhibition comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.  Additional funding is provided by the Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg Fund, the Shirley & Ralph Shapiro Director’s Discretionary Fund, the Fay Bettye Green Fund to Commission New Work, and the Pasadena Art Alliance.
Hotel sponsor: Hotel Angeleno

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