Françoise Soulé Duressé

We Are All the Same Under the Sky (2016-17)

In my work, I focus on the relationship between spoken and body language, memory and place, geographical and social displacement. I create hybrid non-linear narrative videos by superimposing paintings and drawings on old 8mm film home movies from Haiti, Benin, and Jamaica, and mixing experimental sounds, constructed languages, and staged performance.

In narrating the story, I adopt the technique of the silent films in alternating music and caption. Traditionally, in silent films, the music was a key to the mood and emotional state of the characters. Similarly, in my experimental videos, the unspoken scenes, the character’s facial expressions and body language act as another set of signifiers. Sound and narrative are approached by way of two distinctive processes: first, the creation of an artificial language by collaging four separate languages, two traditional Western languages merged with two Creole post-colonial dialects—I use French, Haitian Creole, English and Jamaican Patois and remix texts from Caribbean travel logs and Haitian and Jamaican folklore; second, an experimental soundtrack in the tradition of John Cage, using ballads of Haitian and French origin, European classical music, French and American hip hop, as the vehicle of the story.

At the heart of my work is a desire to tell stories—growing up in Haiti and then as a refugee in Cuba and France, I am interested in using visual languages that are open enough to communicate global fragmented narratives like my own. The narrative in my current work “We are all the same under the sky” (2016-17) shifts back and forth between participation and observation and redraws the boundary between anthropological-historical fact and personal fiction by investigating how one may regain access to the “frozen moment” through the shards of memory and the prism of the recollected.