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Art on the Plaza

Christopher Mitchell - Les Sirènes

June 26, 2024
8:00 am
September 8, 2024
5:00 pm
Christopher Mitchell - Les Sirènes

Overview

Miami-based, Haitian American photographer Christopher Mitchell transforms his photographs into life-sized images of mermaids, incorporating depictions from Haitian folklore and vibrant costumes reminiscent of Kanaval (Haitian Carnival).  

 Les Sirènes showcases seven different types of mermaids that inhabit the waters of Haiti, from the beaches to the Basin Bleu waterfalls in Jacmel. Each mermaid represents a cautionary tale from Haitian folklore. Among them is the golden mermaid, who inhabits waterfalls and draws in those greedy enough to risk everything in search of wealth. The mermaid bride appears on shores, seeking men willing to marry her and bond with her for life. The conch-carrying mermaid acts as a siren, luring sailors into the sea with her instrument. There is also the environmental mermaid, who occupies ravines and charms those who litter through their possessions. Another is the transforming mermaid, capable of turning others into mermaids, with the spell undone only through offerings from a vodou practitioner, forever binding the person to the spiritual world. The people-killing mermaid, with her sharp teeth and nails, drags her victims deep into the ocean abyss. Finally, the divine protector of the natural world; this mermaid is known for her beauty. Her domain extends from Haiti’s rivers to the coastal waters, rewarding those who take care of nature, fulfilling her wishes.


Growing up in Haiti, Christopher Mitchell saw North Miami as a second home. With its large Haitian population, bringing Les Sirènes to MOCA connects his community with Haitian mythology and folklore. This installation invites people to interact and exchange stories through life size mermaids, reimagining MOCA’s plaza and drawing in the community into a mythological and enchanted space.

About the artist

Haitian American photographer and director Christopher L.Mitchell, captures the dynamic cultural and spiritual life of Haiti through his lens. Since the mid-1990s, his photography work has documented pivotal events and everyday life in Haiti, including Kanaval, the 2010 earthquake, and ritual of Vodou. Mitchell is currently developing two documentary films – one exploring Kanaval in Jacmel and another focused on Vodou practices and the annual vodou ceremony in Gonaïves. Educated at Pratt Institute and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Mitchell's engagement with Haitian culture, identity, and history creates a compelling visual narrative that brings the stories of Haiti into a global spotlight.

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