It was La Napoule Art Foundation that initiated the Debris Project by providing the time and space to develop the foundation of the project during a residency that was geared towards creating work with a young audience in mind. The question, ‘Do You See What I See?’ was intended to celebrate the many perspectives through which our age, experiences, and culture inform our creation of and connection to art. Lee Lee was one of seven artists awarded the residency. The creatures she created there were inspired by figurative works sculpted by Henry Clews in the prior century. An unconventional artist for his time, Henry Clews created an amazing array of sculptures, primarily out of stone. Many of his works were integrated into the structure of the Château as he and his wife, Marie, renovated the ancient structure. His work seemed to be inspired by sea life, perhaps because the Château is perched on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. There were strange plankton like creatures swimming across arches, and birds perched atop pillars that would peer down on the artists as we dined in the great hall or walk along the arcades around the courtyards. It was a delight to let his work inspire the sea creatures created there, and it was a perfect place to build the foundation of the Debris project. The proposed Debris Project relied on children’s natural inclination towards animals as well as the fact that children today are particularly in tune with issues which define the world which they will inherit.
Because some of the big issues they face are environmental scarcity, it is a gift for children to be informed about issues like plastic pollution. So that they may take ownership of their future, it is important to engage them on pertinent issues through hands on activity in order to help them develop their voices as they explore how to express their intentions. It is inspiring to see a demonstrated interest in having an impact on the world while they are still young. As adults, we can feel encouraged by the idealism of youth in order to contribute to solving environmental issues that are global in scope. Plastic is a material which transcends our differences and has a tremendous impact on all of us. It is one of the most important materials of our age because we simply do not have the natural resources to support our population without it. However, single use plastics are wreaking havoc on both our health and the environment. It is made from a limited resource, it does not cycle back into the environment which creates an inordinate amount of waste and damage to wildlife, and the chemicals which make up plastic are now linked to some of our biggest health concerns today. Extensive research into the nature of plastic pollution has made it clear that the most promising solutions lay at reducing waste at the source, which means that we need to change the cultural paradigm of how we consume materials like plastic.
In 2014, the work produced during the residency was exhibited at the Château de la Napoule, who invited the artists to incorporate an interactive element to the installation. It was this request that inspired the hands on nature of the installation which then led towards the development of the project as a platform for collaboration. Art is an engaging platform on which to explore creative ideas and solutions to problems that affect us all. Because plastic fills our lives, it is a very familiar material which is often taken for granted. The Debris Project was developed to encourage children to consider this very common material in new ways by paying attention to how we use material in our daily lives. It is important to encourage youth to practice awareness of their own actions in the context of the larger world around them. In doing so, they may feel empowered to incorporate small changes in their own lives which would inspire waves of change in the larger spheres of their families and communities. As a compliment to the formal installation, an important development in the project was the interactive element where children could create their own art works from found plastic objects that would otherwise be laid to waste, with hopes that it would inspire reconsideration in re-purposing materials. From the beginning, the intention was to take the project beyond the scope of this particular residency, by finding ways to integrate an interactive element into educational programming at home and abroad in order to engage children on the subject of plastic. An online presence presents the works created as well as reflections of the processes that evolve in order to build a virtual dialogue around this material which touches us all.
Immacula Cadet grew up in Port-Au-Prince. When she was young, her family would go to the countryside of Cayes to dance with Papa Loko several times a year. They would celebrate the father of the Hougan priesthood by offering red liquor and cake. The most intricate and beautiful dances are performed for Papa Loko who is very strict about maintaining tradition. Immacula carries tradition forth in her role as Mambo.
Robed in pristine white dresses, the mambo move to the infectious rhythm of the drums. Their ample bodies weave through the close knit group, hips undulating so that their skirts take on the graceful flutter of butterfly wings. Papa Loko is known to move on the wind like a butterfly; nothing is unknown to him. He cannot tolerate injustice. Haitians have long been subjected to the impositions of outsider worldviews while suffering severe injustices by economic globalization. Awareness of this is channeled through the keepers of tradition. Rituals serve as a conduit, connecting participants to countless generations who have maintained fortitude in the face of external and dominating forces. They survive as the only nation born out of a successful slave revolt.
Flying between her ancestral lands and the land which has shaped the history of her nation, Immacula moves between Port-au-Prince and Boston, where two of her five children have joined the diaspora. She assumes the traditional role of grandmother by cooking for her family and taking care of her eight grandchildren. She loves to cook more than she loves to eat.
Food is expensive in Haiti. Traditional farming practices have steadily eroded as peasants are increasingly marginalized by exploitive industrial schemes. External structures of globalization have unraveled the social fabric of rural communities and caused an ecological disaster across the country. Heavily influenced by the World Bank, the ‘American Plan’ instigated monoculture production of exotic export crops, extending a model first implemented during the colonial era. Profits flow out of the country with the exports, benefitting multinational corporations and the oligarchy they support. Displaced peasants migrate to the cities where desperation forces them to work for rock bottom wages which is exploited by assembly industry largely owned by US companies. Further degrading the economic fabric in Haiti, an external framework for production offers little connection to local economies because raw materials are sourced from abroad and products are sold to foreign markets.[i] The earthquake of 2010 levelled even this frail economy as foreign companies fled. Abandoned by the schemers who decimated the foundation of local food production, people in Haiti can no longer feed themselves. Food is expensive because globalization has replaced localized economies. There is no food security, so Haitians rely on imported grain and food aid. The supply of food aid profits none other than the US agricultural sector which is deeply enmeshed with the corporations who debased food security in the first place. In the twisted ghetto alleyways along the Grand Rue, residents are fortunate if they get a single meal in a day.
They live in tiny houses pieced together out of corrugated metal and tarps, which have been propped up against cinderblock walls half tumbled by the earthquake. The dwellings consist of single rooms shared by a whole family. Much living takes place along the twisted dirt pathways and in the streets. At the suggestion that people there may be happier with a bit of private space, the response is that it would lessen the strength of community. At the suggestion that people may be satisfied with more material goods, the response is that it would reduce the value of the few items in their possession. Haitians maintain a strong sense of pride.
In the mornings little kitchens appear, tucked into the corners of the footpath scaled alleyways, and the women begin preparing traditional Creole meals. Food prepared slowly, with love, offers comfort and empowerment to those who are nourished by it. It is a cultural foundation which acts as a strong glue that holds community together in ways that maintain an important sense of identity. The little kitchens consist of a few five gallon buckets which act as tables or a sink, a large bowl that gets propped upon a bucket, a charcoal stove, a couple of large stockpots, a knife and spoon and a large wooden mortar and pestle. A piece of the pervasive rubble is often pulled up as a stool on which to sit during the long hours of preparation.
Immacula has set up a little kitchen in Andre Eugene’s lakou, the courtyard which acts as a nexus for the creative community of the Atis Rezistans. As sacred Veves are drawn with cornmeal around the courtyard in preparation for a celebration, we prepare Tchaka. This stew honors Azaka, the hardworking God of Agriculture.
Hardworking Azaka is well loved in Haiti. Great respect is given to this representation of a gentle peasant, as great respect is given to the hardworking farmer. Referred to as Kouzin, this ‘cousin’ offers a reminder of the importance of family, including deceased members who stay present with those who remain. Haitian peasants would bury their deceased family on their plot of land, weaving together a bond of ancestry to the land. It is a representation of the significance of land ownership which had been won by their forefathers through the ousting of the colonists. Even when displaced to urban areas, Haitians maintain a strong connection to the land.[ii]
Another neighborhood grandmother, Rose Marie, arrives to help prepare the Tchaka. She pulls out a bundle of discarded plastic cutlery with which she lights a charcoal fire. This type of fire starter is plentiful because the Haitian government doesn’t recognize profit in trash collection, so they only do it once a month. Trash piles up on corners, clogs drains and fills the footpaths that weave through these densely packed neighborhoods. Ghetto dwellers have quite literally been thrown out with the trash by an elite who is more concerned with maintaining a tight grip on their own wealth than building the infrastructure of their country.
Rose Marie pours water that had been treated with chlorine into a large stockpot and places it directly on the coals. After the earthquake, UN workers brought Cholera to a country who had never had to worry about the water borne illness. The problem of water borne illness is exasperated by the loss of natural filtration systems offered by trees and undergrowth as it is removed with deforestation. Ghetto residents share the leaks that have sprung out of industrious hacking into a civic plumbing infrastructure to which they are not given official access. They know to add chlorine so it will not make them sick.
Immacula washes a single green onion, peels the dried outer leaves and feeds these to the fire growing in the charcoal stove. She throws the whole onion in the stockpot which she covers to let the water warm. Haitians have an intricate understanding of their history and maintain a strong sense of identity that is deeply rooted in African traditions. In describing trans-Atlantic connections, Moyo Okediji describes the daily creative acts of women from his homeland; “Just as the cooking pot is central to the Yoruba concept of family, the pot is central to the way Yoruba women define themselves – it is a voice, a mind, a meeting point, and a vehicle of transition.”[iii]
Immacula finds a chair, and sits upon it as if on a throne. Slowly, she picks through 3 cups of cracked yellow corn, throwing the brown pieces to the hen and her three chicks who are scavenging about the urban yard. After washing the broken corn, she drains the water by splattering it across the cement, cooling it from the pounding tropical sun. She adds a small spoon of Baking Soda to the warmed water in the stockpot, then throws the corn in by the handful. Adding enough water to the fill the pot two thirds full, she covers it to boil for about an hour as the coals slowly die down.
Haitians remain sensitive to the neo colonial powers that displace them from traditional lands in order to exploit them in an abusive labor system. They are not blind to how they echo the colonial structures that brought their ancestors to this land as slaves. As much as they are able, they fight it. Peasant farmers have recognized the abuses of the Monsanto Corporation in the way that they tie farmers into a system that is dependent on purchasing yearly supplies of engineered seed instead of the traditional methods of saving and replanting seed. They know that from this system grows a disastrous debt that peasant farmers in other countries have suffered. They recognize the health as well as the environmental impacts of the chemicals necessary to grow the modified seeds. So when the industrial giant offered a donation of genetically modified corn seed after the earthquake, there was a widespread call by the Peasant Movement of Papay to burn the huge piles of seed.[iv] Their call was heard, but officially heeded by the government for only a year.[v]
While the corn is simmering, the grandmothers pick through three cups of red kidney beans by the handful, throwing out the brown and deformed ones. After washing and draining the beans, they add them to the stockpot. Rose Marie replenishes the charcoal, replaces the pot, and covers it to bring to a soft boil. The stew cooks gently for 45 minutes as people start to gather, drawn to the lakou by rich smells emanating from the pot. The grandmothers continue by peeling half of a medium pumpkin, removing the seeds and strings. Leaving it in large pieces, the orange flesh gets added to the pot.
She then adds a pound of thickly sliced viande conchon, which is like bacon on steroids. Azaka loves the fat in this dish, so Rose Marie splashes in a bit of extra oil as well. The pot continues to simmer for an hour.
During the night of August 14, 1791, the catalyst for the Haitian revolution grew out of the ritual slaughter of a black Creole pig by a wild haired Mambo who embodied the lwa Erzilie Danto at the Bois Caiman ceremony. The congregation was called into a pact of resistance by the Vodoun Priest, Boukman Dutty.[vi] The insurrection began eight days later, and within a week the northern plain was in the hands of the former slaves.[vii] Beyond these symbolic ties to a proud part of their history, the Creole pig was an essential component to rural life. They offered a strong foundation to the rural economy because they provided a large cash return on an initial investment. Furthermore, they provided a substantial value in the overall system of sustenance farming. Inexpensive to keep, the pig rid farms of waste which included weeds and pests like the May beetle larvae which was particularly destructive to crops. Their nitrogen rich excrement then provided free fertilizer for the crops. It contributed to the cycle of harvest by following its rooting nature and digging up the fields after the food was taken in, which prepared the earth for the next planting. Like Haitians themselves, they were survivors who had adapted to some of the most miserable living conditions in the world. [viii]
In the early 1980s, the United States led a massive eradication program of the Creole Pig. There had been an isolated outbreak of swine flu in the Artibonite Valley that had come down the river from the Dominican Republic. The US felt threatened that it would reach our shores, even as the Creole pigs proved to be resilient to the disease as they had acquired a strong natural immunity to most endemic disease. Not only did they exterminate the pigs throughout the Artibonite Valley, the US government extended the geographic area to annihilate pigs throughout the country. They would fly over the mountains, killing wild pigs from helicopters. After failed efforts to replace the pig with American breeds, French and Chinese breeds have been introduced. However, it will take many generations for these pigs to develop the same sort of resistance to the harsh living conditions that made the Creole pig so hearty. Meanwhile, the rural population turned in desperation to charcoal production, speeding up the deforestation and desertification that plagues Haiti.
Into the large wooden mortar and pestle that had been lathed in this woodworking community, Rose Marie throws three cloves of peeled garlic and mashes them into a smooth paste. She then cracks a coconut by throwing it on the cement floor. Draining the water into a bowl, the drink is shared amongst friends. The meat is extracted, washed and grated on a repurposed coffee can punctured with nail holes. Immacula pours two cups of water over the shredded coconut meat and massages it to extract the milk. She pours some into the pestle to rinse the garlic, which she empties into the Tchaka pot along with the rest of the strained coconut milk. Repeating this processing, coconut milk is added to fill the pot. The chickens eagerly receive the coconut shreds. Rose Marie rinses a handful of Grand Saline salt with a flourish and throws it in the Tchaka; as if the movement is an expression of the belief that salt is life, and will keep zombification at bay. A bouquet garni made with parsley and thyme brought ages ago by the French colonists adds that portion of their history to the pot, while three habanero chilies bring with them the flavor of the Caribbean region. By this time, the beans are bien cuit, tender. They take out the large pieces of cooked squash to pulverize them in a sturdy bowl. Thinning the mash with broth, the liquid is returned to the pot through the strainer, working the pulp through the mesh with the pestle to thoroughly extract the smooth flesh from the stringy strands. The stew warms to a boil as Rose Marie adds two tablespoons of butter and three Maggi chicken stock cubes. Immacula throws in a handful of the cornmeal used to draw the sacred Veves. Just before serving, the Tchaka is finished with juice from one sour orange.
As the pot is taken off the fire, the coals are quickly whisked away to feed another smoldering stove in the neighborhood. Charcoal production is by far the largest contributor to deforestation which leads to soil erosion and desertification. Monoculture production of exotic crops for export was established by the colonists in the most fertile areas, and continues to be supported by a global system of agriculture. A marginalized peasant population was pushed into marginal areas up in the mountains, where they have eked out subsistence farms to feed the country. As economic pressure mounts due to things like the decimation of the Creole Pig, so does desperation, and making charcoal eases the hunger that results from a system of exploitation. Forests bring rain, when they are cut down the rain is not pulled down and the land becomes parched. During the monsoon seasons, too much rain washes away the precious top soil which is no longer held in place by tree roots. The cycle of desperation deepens. It is said in Haiti that “the mountains have grown old. You can see their bones poking through their skin”[ix] because in places, severe erosion has exposed the bedrock. Food security is intricately linked to environmental sustainability. After many outside organizations have attempted sustainability programs, it ends up that traditional farming techniques are the most effective in maintaining environmental balance. The organizations who respond to the requests of the farmers for native trees over exotic export crops yield the highest success rates. The farmers know that multipurpose trees have always been the foundation of a homestead, providing wood, fodder, medicine, shade and food for the farmers. Working in harmony with the land, traditional Haitian subsistence farmers rely on a diversity of crops grown using biodynamic, polyculture growing methods. For a population who has grown wary of the systematic subjugation to an elite supported by outsider structures, it is essential to base assistance on collaboration and participation through working with the traditional knowledge maintained by the elders of rural areas.[x]
During the ritual for Azaca, the Tchaka is offered to the spirits for about 20 minutes before the rest of the gathering shares in the feast. During this time, any of the family may partake in sharing the pot. There is a set hierarchy of how people eat in the ghetto as well. The grandmothers sit above their pot and ceremoniously dish up the porridge, passing it first to the leaders of the community, before working their way around to serve those who have contributed most to maintaining the tight weave which has given this neighborhood strength. From these heaping servings, the community leaders eat their fill and pass off their plates to the next member of their families. The plates end up being passed off three or four times so that those with ties to the community fabric are nourished.
This meal was prepared as a collaboration between Immacula Cadet, Rose Marie & Lee Lee during the 3rd Ghetto Biennale – Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
[i] Haiti Info, Haiti’s Agricultural Production, 1996
[ii] Karen McCarthy Brown, Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn
[iii] Moyo Okediji, “Returnee Recollections – Transatlantic Transformations,” Catalog for the exhibition, Transatlantic Dialogue, Contemporary art in and out of Africa, Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000
[iv] Beverly Bell, Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Hybrid Seeds, The World Post, 5/17/10
Walking through Cité Dieu is bleak. Four years after the big earthquake of 2010, the neighborhood remains askew, like many ghettos throughout Port-Au-Prince. Cold, grey cement structures jut out at odd angles, having been shaken out of place and never fully repaired. The alleyways are filled with an eerie silence as quiet desperation ensues. This particular ghetto is tucked in beside a dump along the sea. The dump receives waste from the more affluent neighborhoods on the hill whereas in the ghettos, trash is not picked up more than once a month. It fills the twisted alleyways and clogs the drainages as it slowly makes its way into the Caribbean Sea. It would not be at all surprising if Port-au-Prince was the primary contributor of marine debris in the Caribbean simply because of the lack of civic infrastructure in the most densely populated neighborhoods, the poorest of which lay closest to the sea, downstream from the rest.
Crossing the Boulevard Harry Truman, we are greeted with the warm buzz of industry in the Grand Rue neighborhood inhabited by the Atis Rezistans. The creative community consists of craftsmen and fine artists and offers a marked contrast to the desolate quality of Cité Dieu. Haitians have long been subjected to the impositions of outsider worldviews while suffering severe injustices due to globalization. However, in the face of severe poverty, this community has developed alternative economies based on creative capital and has gained a deserved respect for their visual practice. The artists blend woodworking traditions with contemporary materials like metal, tires and plastic to create poignant reflections of the economic disparities they face. They make use of material discarded by the surrounding autoworkers and machinists, implementing a sort of creative ecology which offers new life to unwanted materials. People here have an acute understanding of the waste they produce because it stays present in their sphere, whereas the waste stream is hidden from urban environments elsewhere. We can draw from this understanding and learn how to transform discarded material into useful objects or art which speaks specifically of place. Making use of the material that passes through their sphere is transformative both physically in the material, and conceptually in the issues comprised therein.
Louis Kervens is a proud twelve year old with straight shoulders, a gleaming perfect smile and a heart he holds out in front of him. He made a representation of the Vodoun Lwa, Boussou, a spirit protector of the seas. More than anything, the seas need a protector, and his image recognizes that need. In the overall installation, Louis’s piece speaks of no other place than Haiti. Instead of imposing a singular idea of how this collaboration should be shaped, the Debris Project remains open to gathering the distinctive voices that grow out of a particular place. This allows for authentic representations from a diverse range of people who share a concern about this material which touches us all. In gathering expressions specific to place from all over the world, the installation becomes a large scaled call for awareness and action that stems from localized interpretations of the waste present in the waters that connect us.
Heat oil in a large pot. When hot, add leek tops and fry until golden. Add one cup of water to deglaze. Make coconut water by adding 2 cups of water to the shredded coconut, massaging the meat to extract as much milk as possible. Strain into the pot through a fine mesh screen, squeezing the meat to extract as much liquid as possible. Repeat this process three more times. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
Wash polenta with fresh water by swirling it around in fresh water. Drain, reserving one cup of starch water. Add both the polenta, reserved starch water and rock salt to the boiling coconut water, stirring so that the polenta does not get lumpy. Cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The Mais Moulin is ready when it is tender with a porridge like consistency.
4 whole medium white fleshed fish, descaled and cleaned
7 small limes
2 small handfuls plus 2 T of rock salt
3 slim leeks, tough green tops removed, cut into 3” segments
1 head of garlic, peeled
Small bunch of parsley
1 sweet green bell pepper
1 whole habenero chili
1 cube chicken boullion
¼ cup of mustard
¼ cup white wine vinegar
3 T vegetable oil
2 red onions
1 coconut, meat extracted and finely grated
Herb bundle made of a small bunch of parsley tied together with several sprigs of thyme
After cleaning the fish, make a diagonal cut from head to tail, then cut the fish in half, crosswise. Reserve the juice from one lemon and 4 limes. Squeeze remaining citrus juices over the fish, rubbing the inside and out with the citrus rinds, and keeping rinds in the marinade. Add 2 small handfulls of rock salt, coating the fish inside and out. Peel shallots, throwing the skins and tops into the marinade.
In a large wooden mortar and pestle, combine garlic, 2 shallots, parsley, ½ of the sweet bell pepper, habanero, chicken boullion cube and 2 T rock salt. Mash into a rough paste and reserve. Slice red onion in 1” rings, the remaining green bell pepper into ½” strips and quarter the remaining shallots, reserving together in a bowl. Make a coconut cream by adding 2 cups of water to the shredded coconut and massaging the meat to extract all the milk. Strain the cream through a fine mesh, squeezing as much moisture from the shreds as possible. Repeat the process using 1 cup of water.
After the fish has marinated for a half an hour, rinse the fish with fresh water. Place the fish in a large pot and add reserved citrus juice, mustard, vinegar, oil and reserved shallot paste. Rub the sauce over the fish, coating the inside and out. Place pot on medium high heat. Let it cook for 10 minutes then add reserved coconut cream. Bring to a boil, then stir by shaking the pot gently back and forth so as not to break up the fish. Return to medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Add reserved sliced vegetables and herb bundle, lower heat and simmer an additional 15 minutes.
Tchaka is traditionally prepared for Azaka, the patron of Agriculture.
1 green onion
3 cups dried yellow corn, broken into large pieces
1 tsp of baking soda
3 cups Barlotti beans
1 joumou or winter squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into fist size pieces
1 coconut, cracked, removed from shell and finely shredded
1 lb lardons cut into large cubes.
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
6 T rock salt
3 habanero chilis
1/3 cup vegetable oil plus 2 T for Boy
Small bunch of parsley tied with several sprigs of thyme
4 T butter
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups flour
Fill a stock pot 1/3 full of water and place over medium heat. Add the whole green onion and bring to a boil. Wash broken corn and add to the water along with baking soda. Add enough water to fill two thirds of the pot, bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 50 minutes until corn is al-dente. Wash beans and add to stock pot. Return liquid to a soft boil and cook for an additional 40 minutes. Add joumou squash, lardons and garlic continue cooking covered for 40 minutes. By this time, the liquid should have reduced so that the pot is half full.
Make coconut milk by adding 2 cups of water to shredded coconut. Massage the meat through your fingers, extracting the milk from the coconut. Strain the liquid into the stock pot through a fine meshed strainer, squeezing the meat to extract as much liquid as possible. Repeat this process using two cups of water for each of the following extractions until the pot is three quarters full. Return to boil.
Add 3 T of rock salt, oil, 3 habaneros, and the bundle of parsley and thyme. By this time the beans should be tender. Remove the squash to a separate bowl and mash with a large wooden pestle until smooth. Add 10 ladle fulls of broth from the simmering soup. Integrate the liquid fully into the pumpkin mash. Pour thinned pumpkin mash through a fine mesh strainer into the soup, working the meat to extract the fine pulp. Return pumpkin pulp to the bowl and add several more ladle fulls of broth, working the pulp to extract as much soft material as you can. Strain into pot, working the soft material through the strainer. Discard pumpkin solids. Add 2 T butter and chicken bouillon cubes. Continue cooking while Boy are made.
Make Boy dumplings by dissolving 1 T rock salt into 1 cup of water. Work the flour together with 2 T butter and 2 T of oil until combined. Add salted water and knead dough until fully integrated. Roll the dough in your palms to form dumplings that are the length of a finger and twice as wide. Drop into the soup and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Just before serving, add juice from one lemon.
Djon Djon is a type of mushroom that grows in the mountains of Haiti. This rice dish is often served as an accompaniment for Poulet Légumes
2 habanero chilis, stem removed but seeds in tact
1 green onion, white and green parts, cut into 1″ segments
5 cloves of garlic
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup vegetable oil
3 fresh tomatoes, cut into 6 wedges each
2 cups fresh Pois Congo, shelled
1/2 fresh coconut: meat extracted and finely grated
3 T tiny dried shrimps
2 T butter
3 lbs djon djon (black mushrooms found in Caribbean markets) or 3 condensed djon djon bouillon cubes
1/2 green bell pepper, finely sliced
Whole sprig of thyme
Small bunch of parsley
3 T rock salt to taste
2 cups rice, picked through and washed
In a large wooden mortar and pestle, pound one habanero, green onion, garlic, chicken bouillon cube and cloves until a rough paste forms. Add tomato paste and mash to combine. Heat oil in large pot. When hot, add paste until fragrant. Add fresh tomatoes and Pois Congo, stir and let simmer partially covered for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make coconut milk by adding 2 cups of water to shredded coconut. Massage the meat through your fingers, extracting the milk from the coconut. Strain the liquid through a fine meshed strainer, squeezing the meat to extract as much liquid as possible. Repeat this process two more times, using one cup of water each of the following extractions. Add coconut milk, tiny shrimps, butter, djon djon, green pepper, one whole habanero, parsley, thyme and salt to the Congo beans. Cover and bring to a low boil over medium high heat. Simmer until the beans are tender, about 20 minutes.
Add rice, stir, cover and bring to a boil slowly. After about 15 minutes, stir again. Rice is ready when all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve with Poulet Legumes.
This recipe was performed by Rose Marie Paul at the 3rd Ghetto Biennale in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
5 oranges, peeled with a knife leaving half the pith in tact
4 tsp rock salt
1 lb green beans, ends removed and sliced diagonally into 1″ segments
6 large carrots, peeled and sliced crosswise at a diagonal in 1/2 ” segments
12 small potatoes, peeled
Small bunch of parsley tied together with 5 large sprigs of thyme
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 40 gram packet of ‘sazon ranchero’ (similar to a Mexican taco sauce)
4 habanero chilis
1 green onion, white and green part, chopped into 1″ segments
5 cloves garlic
3/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 green bell pepper, finely sliced
2 T butter
2 small yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
Wash chicken legs and make a diagonal slice to the bone through the thickest part of the meat. Place the chicken in a large pot. Squeeze the juice of one orange and 2 limes over the chicken, rubbing the juice into the meat. Add 2 tsp rock salt, stir to combine and leave to marinate. Reserve juice from 4 remaining oranges and 4 remaining limes in a separate container. The rinds may be added to the chicken marinade.
Boil green beans, carrots and potatoes until cooked through but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside, separating the potatoes from the beans and carrots. In a large wooden mortar and pestle, pound one habanero, green onion, garlic and chicken bouillon cube until a rough paste forms. Reserve.
Remove citrus rinds from the chicken marinade. Add enough water to reach the top of the chicken legs. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Strain chicken, discarding cooking liquid. Return the chicken to the pot. Add reserved citrus juices, parsley and thyme. Cook over medium high heat until all liquid evaporates and starts to brown on the bottom of the pan. Deglaze with 2 cups of water, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add enough water to reach half way up the chicken pieces. Bring to a boil, then add a chicken bouillon cube and the sazon ranchero. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, take out the parsley and thyme sprigs, and add the reserved paste from the mortar and 2 tsp rock salt.
Remove from flame. Drain chicken, reserving cooking liquid. Heat oil in the large pot and add chicken pieces in a single layer. This may take a couple of rounds. Fry chicken until it is a deep chestnut color. After chicken has fried, remove to separate bowl. Add tomato paste to the same oil and sautee for about 3 minutes. Add green beans and carrots and sautee for 5 minutes. Add reserved cooking liquid and simmer 10 minutes. Add 2 whole habanero chilis, potatoes, green bell pepper, butter and a splash of water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir, mashing the habanero against the side to release flavor. Return chicken to the pot, add sliced onion and simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Serve with Diri Djon Djon
This recipe was performed by Rose Marie Paul at the 3rd Ghetto Biennale in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
During the 3rd Ghetto Biennial, Lee Lee gathered recipes from the Grandmothers of the Grand Rue as they prepared a series of pop up dinners shared by the visiting artists and local Atis Rezistans community. As an initiation for the Gardens of the Grand Rue project in 2015, we prepared Tchaka to honor the patron of agriculture, Azaka. This particular recipe was also used as a framework for a narrative to explore the complexities of the relationships between Haiti and US food policy.
We continue to share meals as the foundation of creative workshops. Paying close attention to the seasons, we prepare what is ripe and save the seeds. Establishing small nurseries, we invite students to germinate the seeds and sell or trade the seedlings. Joumou, the local pumpkin, has a wonderful way of trailing across neighborhood rooftops in the neighborhood & is generally a welcome addition to local homes.
In 2012, La Napoule Art Foundation offered a residency for artists to create work specifically for a young audience in mind. As a new mom, I was moved to create work about environmental issues my son will face in his lifetime. Plastic, the chemicals that make up the material, as well as the chemicals used in industrial agriculture became of primary concern since I started feeding him his first foods. The intentions expressed in the proposal below became the foundation for the Debris Project.
Proposal for the Children themed residency at the Chateau de la Napoule:
Through the myriad of perspectives of age and place, I would like to explore a single material which transcends our differences and has a tremendous impact on all of us; Plastic.
Plastic is one of the most important materials in our lives. We simply do not have the natural resources to support our population without it. However, single use plastics are wreaking havoc on both our health and the environment. It is made from a limited resource, it does not cycle back into the environment which creates an inordinate amount of waste and damage to wildlife, and the chemicals which make up plastic are now linked to some of our biggest health concerns today.
Children are often interested in issues that affect their health and the planet they will inherit. It is important to engage them on pertinent issues so that they may take ownership of their future. They also demonstrate a strong interest in having an impact on the world while they are still young. We can be inspired by the idealism of youth in solving pressing problems. Art is a fantastic platform on which to explore creative ideas and solutions to problems which affect us all.
Because Plastic fills our lives, it is a very familiar material which is often taken for granted. I aspire to encourage children to consider this very common material in new ways.
I would like to present work which explores both the environmental importance of plastic which endures in a useful form, and contrast it to the environmental catastrophe of single use plastics. It takes a lot of effort to pay attention to how we use the most common materials in our lives. It is important to encourage youth to start paying attention to our daily actions to encourage their understanding of our places in context of the world in which we live. In doing so, they may feel empowered to incorporate small changes in their own lives which would inspire waves of change in the larger spheres of their communities.
As a compliment to the work that I create which would encourage a reconsideration of this common but untraditional material, I would like to design an interactive element where children could build their own art works from found plastic objects that would otherwise be laid to waste. In the hopes that it would inspire a long term ability to repurpose materials, I hope that it offers a shift in perception as to the value of materials that are often overlooked.
Beyond the scope of this particular residency, I would like to take the interactive element into various schools and communities at home and abroad in order to engage children on the subject of plastic. I plan to build an online presence with the work and reflections created by the kids to form a foundation of a visual dialogue around this material which touches us all.