Under a Grudging Sun: Photographs from Haiti Libere, 1986-1988

Alex Webb, Author Thames & Hudson $19.95 (85p) ISBN 978-0-500-27544-3
Magnum photographer Webb visited Haiti at several intervals in the past decade and a half, observing radical shifts in that island's political fortunes, from the brutality of ``Papa Doc'' Duvalier's regime to the brief freedom following his downfall to a military coup and government-controlled ``elections.'' But, meanwhile, Webb also looked carefully at Haiti's everyday colors and textures, sounds and smells. His 58 color photographs, taken during 1986-88, are vibrantly physical evocations of wind and light brushing against scenes of extreme human privation. Some pictures are gently elegiac: a plantation house dwindling into decay; a waterfall where people bathe, savoring a reprieve from heat and dust. A portrait of four schoolboys saying prayers, each using his own gestural language, offers a striking oasis of calm. In pictures of political victims--whose martyrdom speaks for itself--Webb wisely refrains from editorial comment or compositional cleverness. His attention to the details of a hardscrabble peasant existence, though compromised by the voluptuous glamour of a few images, generally stays true to the workaday energy of Haitians, held tragically in check. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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