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Haïti dans le monde

Un portrait récemment retrouvé pourrait représenter le vrai visage de Toussaint Louverture



Un portrait récemment retrouvé pourrait représenter le vrai visage de Toussaint Louverture
If there is one important historical figure from the early nineteenth century who has been consistently misrepresented through imagery, it would have to be Toussaint L’Ouverture. One would think that as a minimum, someone of his ilk and significance to Haitian history and the overall contribution to humanity’s fight for equality, freedom and dignity, a proper physical representation of his figure would be easily accessible. However, that has not been the case.

As we know, images are powerful tools. Unfortunately, they are often conjured and perpetuated by the victors of history, and are thus prone to reimaging and propaganda. Predictably, the essence of Toussaint over the years has suffered a vast distortion and vilification that has been seared into our minds as we remember him as a figure that was either homely and diminutive, or at times ostentatious and imposing – perhaps misrepresentative of his legacy.

In March of last year, after Haiti’s tragic earthquake, a friend of mine, researcher, Mario Valdes, whom I had the opportunity to work with at PBS Frontline, emailed me a photograph of what may be the only historically accurate painting of Toussaint, shattering any and all previous notions I held about his physical appearance and affect.

In his email, he wrote: “This portrait by the son of Rene Louis de Girardin, the patron of the great French philosophe, Jean Jacques Rousseau, represents Toussaint as the ideal revolutionary.  It is not the figure of the ferocious dictator he later became and which has dominated the political ethos in Haiti for the last two centuries. It is, therefore, this image and all that it philosophically stands for that has to prevail if Haiti is billed as the world’s first black republic.”

The remarkable details of Giradin’s painting are lucidly captured in the photograph: the intensity of light emitted by the tropical sun, the mountains that are ever present in the Haitian landscape, the razor bumps on his chin, his famous silver hoop earring, and the exacting details of his uniform, from the brass buttons to cordons epaulettes, and fluffy, colorful plumes.

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Lundi 16 Mai 2011
Patrick Sylvain
Lu 2343 fois


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Editeur et distributeur de DVD indépendant, le Collectif 2004 Images est spécialisé dans la production documentaire haïtienne et présente des films d'auteurs inédits, qu'il diffuse auprès du grand public, des festivals de films et dans le réseau des médiathèques et universités. Il intègre également à son catalogue des oeuvres de réalisateurs étrangers, qui portent un regard singulier sur Haïti. Pour connaître les droits de diffusion et d'acquisition, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter info@collectif2004images.org


Independant film publisher and distributor, the Collectif 2004 Images, is specialized on Haitian documentary ; it's large catalog of films includes those made by Haitian authors as well as foreign filmakers baring a singular view on Haiti. Most of our films are available for the general consumer and institutions. Please, check with us for the rights info@collectif2004images.org



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