Swen Moun: Call for 7th Ghetto Biennale 2022

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‘Modes of [Vodou] treatment emphasize specific aspects of the universal forces – water, air, fire, earth – based on an individual’s illness…but treatment also considers the energetic forces represented by his or her lwa mèt tèt.’

Max-G Beauvoir

The theme of the next Ghetto Biennale will be ‘Swen Moun’ (Heal People), and will embrace all aspects of the healing, from the physical and medical interventions, to psychological, alternative, herbal, traditional, spiritual, and miraculous forms of healing. We will welcome projects that explore the healing forces of art, education, community, life, and kinship. We want artists to explore the healing of society, politics, nations, and the environment, as well as the mind and the body. We are imagining holistic traditional approaches, works that decolonize Western Medical orthodoxies, futuristic/speculative works about the possibilities of AI and post-human healing, the histories, and futures of pandemics and an anthropomorphisation of disease itself.

‘There exists, for everyone, a sentence – a series of words – that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you’re lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first.”

Caduceus with two snakes and wings. Vector banner with hand-drawn staff of Hermes, sun, web, esoteric signs and magic symbols written in a circle. Medical symbol in vintage style

Philip K Dick

We also welcome projects that explore the sinister aspects of medical interventions…including the pharmaceutical industry, psychiatric experiments and all manner of charlatans, snake oil salesmen and all-round quackery!

“Fascism first causes, then thrives on, the chaos for which it presents itself as sole cure.”

William Gibson

The neighbourhood also wants more access to the self-governance and autonomy that comes with a better understanding of personal and community health and healing. The Geto Klinik will be a practical element to the whole event. A space will be allocated for a modest consultation room. A doctor, nurse and pharmacist will be present to make basic check-ups on anyone who wishes to attend. There will be attention to blood pressure and diabetes as these are chronic conditions in the neighbourhood. The attendants will receive a record of their results and be advised what next steps to take. There are many free medical facilities in Port-au-Prince started after the earthquake but not many people in the neighbourhood know where these are situated and the process for attendance and a feature of Geto Klinik will be to perform a survey of the medical facilities available in Port-au-Prince and present this as a small leaflet.

“[Gede] is the greatest of the divine healers. He is the final appeal against death. He is the cosmic corpse which informs man of life.”

Maya Deren

The 7th Ghetto Biennale 2022 will take place from the 6th January until the 31st January 2022. All works must be made and exhibited in Haiti. Artists and curators will be invited to pass, no less than ten days and up to three weeks in Haiti before presenting their work in the neighbourhood.  

The deadline for proposal applications is midnight Sun 12th September GMT and our decisions will be made and announced Mon 20th September.

Applicants for the 7th Ghetto Biennale 2022 must provide a written synopsis of their project proposal covering conceptual background, methodology, and a production and exhibition strategy for the proposed new work in no more than 500 words. The whole proposal should take up no more than one side of A4 including illustrations. This should be accompanied by a one page CV. Both documents should be formatted as a pdf and named SURNAME_FORENAME_PROJ & SURNAME_FORENAME_CV. We will not accept any proposals or CVs longer than one side, no attached images and neither will we accept website links as a proposal component.

Please keep in mind that we are looking for works that will be created during the three-week period in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We are NOT looking for work that is already created. We will prioritise projects that require collaboration with local artists and would be able to help connect artists beforehand.  

There is NO funding for this event and you will be expected to cover the cost of your flight, accommodation and materials. We will supply a reading list, there is a film about the Grand Rue sculptors on-line and we will be more than happy to help (via email) with any research and information needed, both before your application and leading up to the event. Advice can also be given about the practicalities for the production of specific projects and budgeting for the trip. If your work involves intensive interviews we will advise you to budget for your own translator. Artists should be aware that Haiti has only a 50% literacy rate and text heavy projects could be problematic for the local audience. We will organise all hotel bookings and airport pick-ups.

The Ghetto Biennale site remains a lens-free zone for none-Haitian artists but there will be a photographer on site to document the projects at the end of the event for anyone needing images for documentation. But we are relaxing the lens-ban to accept film and photographic project proposals for works made in other areas of the city outside of the site.

Order a copy of the Ghetto Biennale catalogue here. Find more information about Atis-Rezistans here. Check out the project archives of the previous Ghetto Biennales via this link.

Enquiries, applications & questions contact our Haiti Support Group Executive Committee Member Leah Gordon at [email protected]  

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