Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami
770 NE 125th Street North Miami, FL 33161
In 2003, The Miami Herald published a magazine supplement of Bruce Weber's photographs of Miami's Haitian community. The photographs were Weber’s response to an unjust U.S. immigration system in which Haitian men, women and children were detained indefinitely unlike refugees from other countries who were typically released to family or friends while awaiting asylum hearings. The documentary film, The Agronomist, by Jonathan Demme, had been Weber’s call to arms. In it, Demme chronicled the life of Haiti’s most famous journalist, Jean Dominique, the founder of Radio Haiti Internationale, and his murder by unknown assailants in 2000. Incensed by the violence, political strife, and poverty depicted in the film, Weber asked Demme what he could do, and Demme suggested turning his attention to what was happening to Haitians in Miami, where Weber had a home. Compelled to tell the story of the struggle of Haitian immigrants, Weber immersed himself in the Haitian community, which he has continued to chronicle through the present. MOCA's chief curator and director Bonnie Clearwater offers a succinct assessment of the exhibition's objectives: "In his fashion shoots he captures what he sees in the models – beauty, youth, strength. This holds true as well for his Haitian photographs. These images convey what he sees and admires in the Haitian children and adults he photographs, -- their strength, pride, resilience, elegance and beauty,” Miami’s rising Haitian leaders, politicians, artists and entertainers have also posed for Weber. He generally photographed these professionals in their element. The immigration crisis earlier in the decade made it imperative for Haitians to become more visible and influential. In his unique way, Weber has captured images of a dynamic, diverse and evolving community, bringing the Haitian neighborhoods of Miami to a wider international audience. A catalogue featuring an essay by Bonnie Clearwater, poems by Edwidge Danticat, and writings by Bruce Weber and Alberto Ibarguen, accompanied the exhibition.