Picture House Shines Bright

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REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Wrapping up the holiday theme—sharing what bring us joy—Carine tells a story of illumination

Sometimes joy simply comes from watching others experience joy. Someone I know sent me a link to a short article about the Sun City Picture House, a movie theater that was recently opened in one of Haiti’s worst slums, thanks to the efforts of actresses Olivia Wile and Maria Bello. The article quotes Bello saying, “We had 200 kids that [opening] night with little bags of popcorn and juice. Their parents stood in the back, watching them have some joy for the first time.”

When the task at hand seems overwhelming, doing the bit that you can, can have a huge impact. The thought of distressed Haitian people being able to watch a fun movie made me so happy. Good job, ladies!

On My Mind

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Art by Pascale Monnin from the book cover for Create Dangerously

What lurks in the mind of Carine Fabius? Have you seen her?

Several themes have been dancing around inside my head lately. Tiptoeing like a ballerina is the power of art to transform us. A recent New York Times Magazine article on Estonian composer Arvo Pärt described his music as being able to “touch the soul.” It was also described as “…a harmonic stillness that conjures up an alternative to hectic everyday existence;” R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe said that Pärt’s music brings one “to a total meditative state.” The writer said he was surprised at how many of his acquaintances knew of the composer’s work and loved it.

I was similarly delighted to find that so many unusual suspects are fans of Haitian author Edwidge Danticat, whom we recently hosted at our gallery for a signing of her book of essays, Create Dangerously. The response was so enthusiastic I feared having to turn people away. In a world where most people need their culture fed to them in sound bites from celebrities, preferably on television, the author is wildly successful. While her lyrical prose defies conventional storytelling, its simple and gorgeous use of everyday language serves to inspire, horrify and, yes, touch the soul. I like that in a work of art.

I am working on a major exhibition of Haitian art that is scheduled to launch in 2012 and travel to important museums throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. The Haitian Cultural Foundation (HCF), which hired me to curate the exhibition, believes, like I do, that my beleaguered country’s art and culture should be an integral part of the recovery and reconstruction dialogue. Why?
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Art That’s as Hot as Haiti

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Artist Pascale Monnin
Artist Pascale Monnin

On a recent visit to Haiti, art dealer, museum curator, Haitian native, and Fifty is the New contributor Carine Fabius seeks out light and joy amongst the desperation and darkness.

(Originally published in The Huffington Post.)

It’s hard to find joy in Haiti today. I’m just back from a three-week trip to my native land and words will never convey the range of emotions encountered in the core of my being and among those who live the day-to-day grind that is Haiti today. People are stressed, traumatized and depressed. In a place where some 250,000 people perished, it seems everyone knows at least five people who died. The force of Mother Earth has left many in a state of shock unnoticeable at the surface level. But dig just a little and a familiar faraway look and haze steals over the face of anyone recounting what many refer to as bagay la, “the thing” in Haitian Kreyol (bagay rhymes with sky).

For a couple of days I stayed at a tiny house just outside of Jacmel (a coastal city in the south which was reportedly destroyed by 70 percent, although that figure is slightly exaggerated) where the caretaker recounted what residents there saw just after the exact hour and minute forever emblazoned in his mind: 4:52 PM. He said that after the shaking stopped, they watched the ocean recede 200 feet with a terrible force, as if fueled by an enraged and giant jackhammer. Flapping fish, stunned lobsters and other sea life remained stranded on what looked like a post-apocalypse beachscape. Fears of a tsunami-force return prompted them to head for the hills, but for naught in the end; because, as he relayed in a hushed, still-bewildered tone, the ocean returned at a chilling pace—creeping back in at a strangely measured tempo over the next day and a half. Read more

A Classy Lady

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Mireille Fabius at age 20

Mireille Fabius at age 20

Carine Fabius takes a good look at the person behind the role of mom.

It was my father’s birthday recently, and when I called to wish him a happy birthday, he went into a long and detailed account of why he and my mother are so lucky at this time in their lives. It mostly had to do with the great bunch of kids they had. (My father loves to make long, dramatic speeches with well-timed pauses for effect, and this was no different.) As he talked, I kept thinking about how lucky we kids are to have such great parents. And since I once wrote on this site about my father, I’ve been thinking about the classy lady who gave me life. You should meet her sometime!

My mother is physically gorgeous; always has been. Her signature scent is “Le” de Givenchy. She makes great cocktails. She is political, vociferously so. She thinks Haitian Vodou is for the uneducated masses, but she believes in spirit entities and channeled communication. She can cook up a mean batch of rice and beans. She belongs to a gourmet club. She is generous, generous, generous. Read more

10 Things I Plan to Accomplish in 2009

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1. To stop the nonsense uttered by Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber and other circus freaks that pass for commentators on world affairs, I will invent a supersonic chip that makes microphones go dead whenever they try to speak.

2. Simply by spraying my yet-to-be-invented secret potion in the air, Israelis and Palestinians will fall madly in love with each other and forget why they ever started fighting in the first place. I plan to call it Love and Forgetfulness.

3. I will engineer a price increase of corporate executive bonus proportions for the hormones injected in poultry so that organic chickens become the cheaper alternative at the supermarket. This way, the next generation of 12-year-olds won’t be found shopping bra racks, wondering if they look sexy enough in their midriff tops.  Read more

I Still Miss You

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Photo by Pascal Giacomini

I was at an art opening a couple of months ago and was stopped in my tracks by a painting. Lately it’s become very trendy to include text in artwork. Does it come from a fear of not being heard through the art medium alone? Is it a need to be heard LOUD AND CLEAR? I don’t know, but I tend to like it, and to be drawn to it. Maybe because the endless supply of sad goings on in our world sometimes make me want to scream out loud?

In any case, the painting in question held me captive for a long time as I stared at the words: I still miss you. The words conveyed emotion, longing, and a fleeting sense of despair. Read more

Father’s Day Musings

Filed Under All Posts, Carine Fabius, Family, Relationships | 3 Comments

My father is a very eccentric guy. At 84, he wears a ponytail, is extremely engaged in what might be termed “new-age” thinking, and he long ago gave up meat, alcohol and other favorite things as part of his personal spiritual quest. When my father develops an opinion on something, it’s because he’s spent long hours debating the thing with his intelligent, intellectually stimulated and very sharp mind; so, even though he loves long discussions on controversial positions, it’s easier to relocate the Grand Canyon than getting him to change his mind. Read more