Tyisha Catalog Entry

Tyisha Catalog Entry

Photo of two dead bodies being removed in the back of a pickup truck by Morel

It is only from the vantage point of the “Angelus Novus,” that outsiders can get a truly introspective understanding of the compounding effects of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Through Morel’s position of an “Angelus Novus,” he is able to record the amassing piling wreckage that is left as an unwritten aftermath of the progress of first world countries at the expense of third world countries. Meaning, Morel’s photographs capture the lingering remnants of colonization. Michel-Ralph Trouillot, in “An Unthinkable History”, highlights the ways in which Haiti from the onset of its independence was a decaying country. Haiti’s catastrophic history was predestined the moment the Haitian revolutionaries sought freedom from colonization’s brutal prongs. As a result of such impudence, Haiti was isolated by Western countries as punishment for defying the present status quo at that time.  Colonist Europe could not even fathom how such lowly creatures could even rebel; to them, Haiti’s independence was, and is still unthinkable.  The present status quo mandated that blacks remain subservient to whites. Consequently, Haitian independence is met with brutal punishment for defying this ubiquitous principal established by Western enlightenment. While the Western world “progressed,” Haiti was left to deal with the injustice inflicted upon its newly found autonomy. Haiti was forced into contractual agreements with Western countries that preserved the colonial relations. The social position of Haiti, since the onset of its independence, has yet to change. In fact, one could argue that much of the Caribbean is still haunted by the shadowy remnants of colonial chains perpetuated through unjust one-way trade deals. Aime Cesaire, in Discourse of Colonialism, argues that this colonial enterprise is the prelude to disaster and the forerunner of catastrophe. This is evident in the unending catastrophe that plagues Haiti.

Since Haiti’s independence, the country has been forced to inhabit the unthinkable demonic ground. However, thanks to photographers like Morel who boldly inhabit the demonic ground, the collective hypocrisy of the “civilized” West is revealed. Through his photographs, those ignorant to Haiti’s condition and the reason for Haiti’s condition, are forced to see and think dangerously through the raw brutality of his photographs. The raw brutality of the violence in Morel’s photographs force onlookers to see clearly. Specifically, Morel is able to capture the collective hypocrisy of the “civilized” West through the documentation of insignificant people. Ana Lydia Vega in, “The Day it All Happened,” asserts that history is not confined to textbooks or biased media outlets inundated with savior-complex propaganda, but history is alive through the embodied daily experience of insignificant people. Morel captures the history of Haiti through the documentation of catastrophe of insignificant people whose names or existence would never be recorded in first world history. By capturing these insignificant initials Morel reveals the flaws in first world recording. By capturing the not simply the photographs of these insignificant people, but the violence experienced by these insignificant people, Morel is challenging the status quo that erases these voices from the larger narrative recording. Additionally, by documenting the barbarism of the lived experiences of these people, Morel offers a counternarrative, a retelling, of the larger aperitive history constructed by modern-day Western imperialist countries who paint history as a linear timeline of Western progress. Within this larger narrative, everything that does not fit into this tantalizing perfect documentation of history is banalized into kinks that unravel in the course of time. However, Morel’s photographs by documenting this present devastation illustrate that this narrative is largely flawed because those kinks that were supposed to unravel as civilization progressed accumulate in countries like

Port-au-Prince, Haiti A woman flees a Port-au-Prince neighborhood after her house was destroyed.

Haiti who were forced to deal with the aftermaths of colonization. Furthermore, by documenting the brief embodied experience of different people in Haiti, Morel illustrates that history is not one monolith of experiences, but history is a living organism composed of many different voices and histories. Lastly, Morel’s photographs give voice to those continually abused by the Goliath of Western heroism. Morel’s photographs document more than just the people present, but his photographs illustrate the absence of Imperialist countries in Haiti. The West promised to assist Haiti with the aftermath of its earthquake. However, instead, a West sued this as an opportunity to continue to reproduce violence through the reenacting of social positions of power via the exploitation of already abased people. Morel’s photographs document this hypocrisy. As Cesaire posited in Discourse on Colonialism, aa civilization that does not seek to remedy its failures already a dying and sick civilization. Despite, the unending catastrophe that is present in Haiti, Western Europe in its refusal to confront its creation of carnage and unending violence in many post-colonial cities, condemns itself to a  similar catastrophe.


70-year-old Matilde Verine viewing Morel’s photograph.

Work Cited


Cesaire, Aime. Discourse on Colonialism. Monthly Review, 1972.