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Louis Henderson: Overtures

HOME presents a major new co-commission and solo exhibition from award-winning artist Louis Henderson, who has produced a series of works based around a collaboration in the Haitian city of Port-au-Prince.

The narration takes place between two locations; France and Haiti – where a ghost story unfolds about the history of the Haitian revolution. In 1791, the slaves and the freed people of colour in the colony of Saint-Domingue rose up against the French. In the process they abolished slavery on the island and established the first free black state in the Americas with the Haitian constitution of 1804.

Somewhat obscured and ignored throughout history, considered minor to the revolutions of the USA and France, the Haitian Revolution was perhaps the only revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries to truly live up to the Enlightenment ideals of the universal human rights of freedom and equality.

The Revolution was initially led by a former slave who became an army general: François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (20 May 1743 – 7 April 1803), also known as Toussaint L’Ouverture. He was arrested by Napoleon Bonaparte’s army in 1802 and brought to France, imprisoned in a medieval castle in the Jura Mountains where he died from pneumonia and malnutrition in April 1803.

The exhibition has been conceived as an expansion of the research for a feature film, staged through four rooms that include archival displays, a sound installation and four films. Overtures takes the viewer on a journey from the National Archives in Paris, to the frozen stratigraphic landscapes of the French Jura and into the heart of a baroque-like limestone cave, through rivers and waterfalls into the sea that connects these two worlds, eventually arriving in Haiti, where we come across a group of young actors rehearsing scenes from a Creole translation of the play Monsieur Toussaint by Édouard Glissant.

Louis Henderson has shown his work internationally including at Rotterdam International Film Festival, Doc Lisboa, CPH:DOX, New York Film Festival, The Contour Biennial, The Kiev Biennial, The Centre Pompidou, SAVVY Contemporary, The Gene Siskell Film Centre, Gasworks and Tate Britain. His work is in the public collection of the Centre National des Arts Plastiques, France and is distributed by Lux (UK) and Video Data Bank (USA).

A new HOME co-commission in partnership with Spectre Productions, Centre national des arts plastiques and Ghetto Biennial 2017.