Inspired by the enigmatic phrase “Le poème tué” (the murdered poem) that the author saw written on the walls of Port-au-Prince, this essay explores street art in Port-au-Prince as staging a public debate about different ways of approaching a life of precarity and crisis. It analyzes “Le poème tué” graffiti by young Haitian poet Ricardo Boucher, along with murals by Jerry (Jerry Rosembert Moïse) and Francisco Silva, political graffiti about the PetroCaribe corruption scandal, and the writing and artwork on tap-tap buses, as emergent affects and ideologies about the art of flourishing “in spite of all.” In a succession of accidental encounters, the author claims, passersby find in the public city competing ideas about how to negotiate unlivable circumstances through moral character, the building of community, or revolution.
The Clandestine Philosophy of Graffiti in Port-au-Prince
Guillermina De Ferrari is Halls-Bascom Professor of Spanish and Art History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow and has published extensively on Caribbean literatures and visual cultures. She is the author of Vulnerable States: Bodies of Memory in Contemporary Caribbean Fiction (2007), Community and Culture in Post-Soviet Cuba (2014), and Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today (2015). She is a co-editor of the Routledge book series Literature and Contemporary Thought.
Guillermina De Ferrari; The Clandestine Philosophy of Graffiti in Port-au-Prince. Small Axe 1 November 2021; 25 (3 (66)): 63–88. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-9583418
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