Contact Sheet 158: Laura Heyman
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Light Work (September 1, 2010)
Laura Heyman’s intriguing photographs, which were featured at Light Work in the exhibition Pa Bouje Ank o: Don’t Move Again, capture life in Haiti both before and after the 2010 earthquake. She began the photographic project in Port-Au-Prince with a question: “Can someone from the first world see and photograph within the third world without voyeurism or objectification?”
Heyman works with an 8×10 camera to create black-and-white portraits that recall the work of earlier studio photographers like Mike Disfarmer and James VanderZee. According to the artist, while making these photographs, she was aware of the many cultural complexities of this type of representation, stating, “I was highly conscious of everything that stood in the way of a real exchange between myself and each person who sat for a portrait… race, class, opportunity and lack of opportunity, agency, the ability to move freely through the world. These things can make communication difficult, as they are always present, but rarely discussed.”
Heyman’s first visit to Haiti was in November 2009. On subsequent trips and in the aftermath of the earthquake, her project has evolved to include various rapidly expanding populations in Port-Au-Prince tied to reconstruction. United Nations officials, NGO employees, volunteers, grassroots organizations, business investors, and local politicians are among the subjects she plans to shoot; the first group of non-Haitian subjects photographed for the project was the U.S. Infantry, in May 2010.
This catalogue includes an essay by Light Work Executive Director Jeffrey Hoone.
Heyman is an associate professor of photography in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. Her work has been exhibited at such venues as Ampersand International Arts, San Francisco, CA; Deutsches Polen-Institut, Darmstadt, Germany; Senko Studio, Viborg, Denmark; and The National Portrait Gallery, London, United Kingdom. Her most recent curatorial project, Who’s Afraid of America, featuring the work of Justyna Badach, Larry Clark, Cheryl Dunn, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Zoe Strauss and Tobin Yelland, was exhibited at Wonderland Art Space, in Copenhagen, Denmark.