"MADE IN HAITI": Martha Cooper Revisits Haiti with French Artist Seth
French artist, Seth, recently teamed up with photography legend, Martha Cooper, for a collaborative show that includes original paintings, installations, wall murals, and photography. Made in Haiti will open at Fabien Castanier Gallery's Wynwood and Little Haiti locations on May 11th and will mark 40 years since Cooper's first trip to the Caribbean country.
It was 1978-79 when a Baltimore-born staff photographer for the New York Post traveled to Haiti for the first time and fell in love with the little kids who were playing with toys made from scraps. This experience triggered Martha Cooper's interest in what youngsters were doing back home in America, thus introducing her to the underground graffiti scene in NYC and changing the course of history for the entire movement. Many years later, a young French boy picked up a spray can for the first time and began painting graffiti around the 20th arrondissement of Paris under the name of Seth. A couple of years later, he decided to expand his work, scene, and imagery, so he began traveling and painting murals of children at play. With a storyline like that, it was a sure thing for this French artist/traveler to eventually collaborate on a show with American photojournalist, Martha Cooper.
"For years, Martha and I crossed paths at many different festivals," Seth told Juxtapoz. "We both have the same view of how children interact with their surroundings and the same desire to sublimate their imagination – Martha with her photographs and myself with my paintings," Seth said as he described the core of this project, with his partner-in-crime confirming, "We were pretty much interested in the same things - children being creative - so we didn’t have problems of pulling in different directions. We were on the same page throughout."
Seth explained that after deciding to do a collaboration together, it was early on when, "Martha expressed her desire to return to Haiti, where she had taken incredible pictures forty years ago." Cooper described her thoughts when asked about returning to the country that looked almost the same since she left it in the 1970s; "Shooting in Haiti felt more difficult than I remembered from forty years ago because of heightened security concerns."
Nonetheless, the trip turned into a quest for the artists to better understand the imagination of Haitian children. With both artists looking for inspiration and references for their work, the trip resulted in site-specific murals and paintings by the French painter and photo documentation of the entire process by the American photographer. Without an idea of how much the country had changed in those four decades or an expectation of what they would discover, the two artists met some truly wonderful kids who were full of creativity. "It was a mine of inspiration for my paintings and for Martha’s incredible photographs," Seth told us about his impression of the project. Finally, when asked about her overall experience, Cooper admitted, "Collaborating with Seth was easy. He was extremely helpful, he made lots of contacts, and he could speak French and understand some Creole. Oftentimes, I was just there to tag along."––Sasha Bogojev
"Made in Haiti" will be featuring at Fabien Castanier Gallery from May 11, 2019, to June 1, 2019