As has recently been observed by Matthew J. Smith, “It is a peculiar feature of Haitian historiography that increased production of new literature often follows national crisis.” A parallel pattern has been evident in Haitian visual arts, yet this has not always been at the impulse of the artist. This essay looks closely at one collaborative and two solo works by Mario Benjamin to explore the impact that commissioning projects has had on the development of a body of contemporary Haitian art represented as focusing on localistic catastrophe. In each case, the essay juxtaposes against the dominant interpretive discourse the alternative reference points of the artist, who can be seen intervening in the space of the commissioned artwork to confront viewers' expectations about the relationships linking Haiti, art, and catastrophe.
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Wendy Asquith; Expectations of Catastrophe: Mario Benjamin, Commissions, and Countercontext. Small Axe 1 November 2013; 17 (3 (42)): 227–243. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-2379027
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