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  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    A view of the interior of the Cathedral in the heart of Port-au-Prince

  • Port-au-Prince January 2010

    EDENCIE FRANCOIS 13 years old“ I thought Jesus or god was stamping his feet” she says of the earthquake. Her house was completely destroyed and they all sleep in the street. She was spotted walking to Cité Soleil through the rubble of downtown with her adoptive mother and sister, looking for help from friends they have there. Unlike many adopted children in Haiti, I did not get the sense that she was a Restavek, but rather a real member of the family. She was dressed in her Sunday best and her “mother” had a gentle kindly quality and Edencie had started going to school when she was taken in by Mrs. Julienne Laroque. She wants to be a Lawyer when she grows up.Port-au-Prince 30.01.2010

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    29/01/2010 Port-au-Prince The Marché Hyppolite, also known as the Marché en Fer burns along with other parts of the downtown of Port-au-Prince. This market dates to 1849 and is inscribed with slogans of work and fraternity. I has been set ablaze by arsonists, probably as part of retaliation against store owners who have fought back against looters. The downtown area of Port-au-Prince that was badly damaged by the earthquake.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    Port-au-Prince, 29/01/2010 The Marché Hyppolite, also known as the Marché en Fer burns along with other parts of the downtown of Port-au-Prince. This market dates to 1849 and is inscribed with slogans of work and fraternity. I has been set ablaze by arsonists, probably as part of retaliation against store owners who have fought back against looters. A looter dusts off artificial flowers he has found. The downtown area of Port-au-Prince that was badly damaged by the earthquake.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    21/01/2010 Port-au-Prince A boy with 2 rubber balls stuffed under his shirt that he has found in the rubble of downtown Port au Prince stands transfixed as a man laments the killing of a woman by police during a melee of looting.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    Survivours pick their way through the rubble in the heart of Port-au-Prince, eighteen days after the earthquake.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    A panoramic view of the massive displacement camp in the Delmas33 District of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    04/05/2010 Port-au-Prince Five months after the earthquake, a man attempting to sell electric fans washes his feet in an open water main in the heavily damaged downtown core of Port-au-Prince.

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    A small crowd at a camp in Pétionville Golf Club Camp, in Port-au-Prince, the capital. Water in the camp is supplied by Oxfam. Haiti Nov. 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    A shirt is hung to dry in Acra, a displacement camp for quake victims, in the Juvenat neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, the capital. Haiti 20th Nov. 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    Port-au-Prince 02.05.2010 A tent camp sprang up on the grounds of the Primature (prime ministers residence) in the first days after the quake. Three months later not much has changed and now the rains make this hilly grassy land a bad place to live. Children play shortly before the rain sends everyone under the tents.

  • Port-au-Prince, November 2010

    Rivière Froide, Haiti, November 2010 Women and children wait for a nutririon screening for infants in a mobile clinic set up in the vllage of Rivière Froide. The clininc is run by a Haitian NGO named FONDEPH.

  • Port-au-Prince, Novembre 2010

    Fort National, Port-au-Prince, Haiti - 21/11/2010 Children play football in Fort National, a heavily damaged neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, the capital. Fort National residents are beginning to return to their homes; most of them have been living in a displacement camp for quake victims, in Champs-de-Mars Plaza.

  • Port-au-Prince, Novembre 2010

    Novembre 22nd, 2010 - Mais Gaté, Port-au-Prince Marjorie Benoit watches over her son, Herwens. Although part of her arm was crushed during the earthquake, she managed to save Herwens. She has three other children.

  • Port-au-Prince, Novembre 2010

    People stand outside the partially collapsed Notre Dame de l’Assomption Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, the capital. They are attending Sunday mass, held under tents on the lawn of the cathedral.

  • Port-au-Prince, Novembre 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    A victim of the earthquake that shattered Port-au-Proince two years earlier walks through the ruins of the Cathedral of Our-Lady-of Assumption that stood at the center of the city. Recovery for the blighted carribean nation has been slow, despite a vast international presence and millions in foreign aid pledged but inly partillly delivered.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    In the great cemetery of Port-au-Prince, a man pours an offering of fresh coffee on the grave said to be that of the first woman buried there.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    A camp of persons displaced by the 2010 earthquake is seen exactly two years later. All these shelters were built by the Haitians themselves, using their own materials. NB this image is a digital triptych made with standard software. no elements of the image were imported or altered in any way.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    Period portraits of the Pamphile family of Port-au-Prince.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    The Pamhile family home in the Paco district of Port-au-Prince.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

  • 2013

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  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    A view of the interior of the Cathedral in the heart of Port-au-Prince

  • Port-au-Prince January 2010

    EDENCIE FRANCOIS 13 years old“ I thought Jesus or god was stamping his feet” she says of the earthquake. Her house was completely destroyed and they all sleep in the street. She was spotted walking to Cité Soleil through the rubble of downtown with her adoptive mother and sister, looking for help from friends they have there. Unlike many adopted children in Haiti, I did not get the sense that she was a Restavek, but rather a real member of the family. She was dressed in her Sunday best and her “mother” had a gentle kindly quality and Edencie had started going to school when she was taken in by Mrs. Julienne Laroque. She wants to be a Lawyer when she grows up.Port-au-Prince 30.01.2010

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    29/01/2010 Port-au-Prince The Marché Hyppolite, also known as the Marché en Fer burns along with other parts of the downtown of Port-au-Prince. This market dates to 1849 and is inscribed with slogans of work and fraternity. I has been set ablaze by arsonists, probably as part of retaliation against store owners who have fought back against looters. The downtown area of Port-au-Prince that was badly damaged by the earthquake.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    Port-au-Prince, 29/01/2010 The Marché Hyppolite, also known as the Marché en Fer burns along with other parts of the downtown of Port-au-Prince. This market dates to 1849 and is inscribed with slogans of work and fraternity. I has been set ablaze by arsonists, probably as part of retaliation against store owners who have fought back against looters. A looter dusts off artificial flowers he has found. The downtown area of Port-au-Prince that was badly damaged by the earthquake.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    21/01/2010 Port-au-Prince A boy with 2 rubber balls stuffed under his shirt that he has found in the rubble of downtown Port au Prince stands transfixed as a man laments the killing of a woman by police during a melee of looting.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2010

    Survivours pick their way through the rubble in the heart of Port-au-Prince, eighteen days after the earthquake.

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    A panoramic view of the massive displacement camp in the Delmas33 District of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    04/05/2010 Port-au-Prince Five months after the earthquake, a man attempting to sell electric fans washes his feet in an open water main in the heavily damaged downtown core of Port-au-Prince.

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    A small crowd at a camp in Pétionville Golf Club Camp, in Port-au-Prince, the capital. Water in the camp is supplied by Oxfam. Haiti Nov. 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    A shirt is hung to dry in Acra, a displacement camp for quake victims, in the Juvenat neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, the capital. Haiti 20th Nov. 2010

  • Port-au-Prince, April 2010

    Port-au-Prince 02.05.2010 A tent camp sprang up on the grounds of the Primature (prime ministers residence) in the first days after the quake. Three months later not much has changed and now the rains make this hilly grassy land a bad place to live. Children play shortly before the rain sends everyone under the tents.

  • Port-au-Prince, November 2010

    Rivière Froide, Haiti, November 2010 Women and children wait for a nutririon screening for infants in a mobile clinic set up in the vllage of Rivière Froide. The clininc is run by a Haitian NGO named FONDEPH.

  • Port-au-Prince, Novembre 2010

    Fort National, Port-au-Prince, Haiti - 21/11/2010 Children play football in Fort National, a heavily damaged neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, the capital. Fort National residents are beginning to return to their homes; most of them have been living in a displacement camp for quake victims, in Champs-de-Mars Plaza.

  • Port-au-Prince, Novembre 2010

    Novembre 22nd, 2010 - Mais Gaté, Port-au-Prince Marjorie Benoit watches over her son, Herwens. Although part of her arm was crushed during the earthquake, she managed to save Herwens. She has three other children.

  • Port-au-Prince, Novembre 2010

    People stand outside the partially collapsed Notre Dame de l’Assomption Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, the capital. They are attending Sunday mass, held under tents on the lawn of the cathedral.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    A victim of the earthquake that shattered Port-au-Proince two years earlier walks through the ruins of the Cathedral of Our-Lady-of Assumption that stood at the center of the city. Recovery for the blighted carribean nation has been slow, despite a vast international presence and millions in foreign aid pledged but inly partillly delivered.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    In the great cemetery of Port-au-Prince, a man pours an offering of fresh coffee on the grave said to be that of the first woman buried there.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    A camp of persons displaced by the 2010 earthquake is seen exactly two years later. All these shelters were built by the Haitians themselves, using their own materials. NB this image is a digital triptych made with standard software. no elements of the image were imported or altered in any way.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    Period portraits of the Pamphile family of Port-au-Prince.

  • Port-au-Prince, January 2012

    The Pamhile family home in the Paco district of Port-au-Prince.

THE REPUBLIC OF PORT-AU-PRINCE

Part truth and part wry joke, Haitians sometimes refer to their capital as “the Republic of Port-au-Prince” because the city is home to almost 50% of the country’s population and because it is so different from the rest of the primarily rural nation. A dense, sprawling tangle of cinder-block shantys and once proud, now crumbling edifices of various architectural schools, the city is like a nation unto itself, a dusty labyrinth of stone seemingly out of place on a tropical island.

I have been covering Port-au-Prince since 2004, when president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted by rebel army officers. It is a fascinating, ever-changing study in chaos and survival. My last visit was in 2012, two years after the deadly earthquake.

Soaked in blood and baked by the sun, it is a chaotic, complex city spreading over planes, ravines and hill-sides, a huge puzzling knot of humanity, like a banyan tree with its hundreds of roots, branches and tendrils. I feel at home there when I am not gripped by fear. There is wealth but mostly poverty, culture, art, beauty and degradation in equal measures.  But here, history is a zombie that stalks its descendants relentlessly and the noble revolution of slaves is mirrored everywhere in its failures and tragedies, from the ruined white hulk of the presidential palace down to the modern slavery of child domestics. Despite the weight of its tragedies, Haiti remains beautiful, vital, magical.

I began photographing Port-au-Prince, particularly the “centre-ville”, earnestly in 2005 though I was often told that the area was too dangerous. Successive periods of architecture-- Colonial, art Deco and something uniquely Haitian lived side by side.  But the level of decay —many of the buildings were shuttered, in ruins or inhabited by squatters—told me that much of this visual history would disappear. So I combed the streets, photographing life in the context of these buildings. Then came the earthquake, condensing into a single day what might otherwise have taken years. 

My photography of "the Republic of Port-au-Prince" is now at the book dummy stage. I am grateful to the Canada Council of the Arts for supporting the project with a visual arts production grant for 2013 and I look forward to delving deeper into this difficult but rewarding subject.