In a Haitian context, the French noun noctambule evokes a night-dweller whose perceived clandestine activities best flourish away from the brightness and tumult of daylight. Josué Azor’s photographic essay Noctambules offers viewers a glimpse into the quieter yet energetic practices of those people who choose to evade the critical gaze of day-walkers and forge intimate and sustaining connections when the sun sets.
Excerpted from a larger series, the photographs in this project display what is powerfully queer and effectively resistant about encounters between bodies in devalued spaces, embraced by the night.
We invite viewers not only to reflect on these documented performances as a testament to the artful survival of queer nocturnal worlds, but also to register their own position and the position of the photographer as we appreciate moments frozen in the shadowed private lives of urban Haitians.
Working in the areas of documentary, social, and artistic photography, Josué Azor began to travel around Haiti in 2008, combining his passion for photography —a discipline in which he is self-taught— with his interest in the religious practices of his country, with a particular focus on Vodou, which he documented in the town of Gonaïves. Azor participated in the 2nd edition of the Changjiang International Photography and Video Biennial in 2017 and in the Rencontres Photographiques de Guyane (French Guiana) in 2014. In Noctambules, he explores the nightlife of the LGBT community in Port-au-Prince, in the aim of giving this sector of society greater visibility. He is a member of Kolektif 2 dimansyon (K2D), a collective of young photojournalists and visual artists in Haiti.
A project commissioned by Africamericanos
Eshu is one of the most mysterious entities in West African creation myths. He crossed the ocean with the enslaved Africans to disembark in the inaptly name “New World,” where, owing to the zeal of missionaries and the fact that people had been uprooted, he became an archetype for the demonization of African religions ―one that has endured to this day.
Midnight at the Crossroads documents Eshu’s adaptations and alterations, from his origins in Benin, to developments in Cuba, Brazil, and Haiti. Eshu began as a totem in Benin, became a child in Cuba, then was transformed into a seductive youth in Brazil, and ended up being an old man in Haiti. But he always remained a confusing spirit that questions our assumptions and calls things into doubt.
Eshu is the energy of change and mutation. He is the messenger and also the lord of the crossroads, given his dual symbolism. He places obstacles in our way in order to question our actions and decisions.
To cast some light onto the sinister narrative prevailing in popular culture, which directly ties African religions (Umbanda, Santería, or Vodou) to diabolical entities, this project combines a documentary approach to rituals and ceremonies with visions of myths and legends that are illustrated in order to provide a broader, non-linear understanding of the African presence and heritage.
Bruno Morais & Cristina de Middel
Bruno Morais became involved with photography through visual anthropology and the study of traditional groups in Brazil. His interest in the narrative possibilities of the medium led him to explore the use of images as a tool of social criticism. In 2015 he was selected to participate in the Paraty em Foco and San José Foto festivals. A year later he participated in the Encontros da Imagem and the LagosPhoto festival. As a member of Observatório de Favelas, he has undertaken photographic projects aimed at the integration of marginalized communities in Brazil. He is a cofounder of the collective Pandilla, created in 2009. In collaboration with Cristina de Middel he has produced Excessocenus, which received the Greenpeace Photo Award in 2016, and Midnight at the Crossroads, a project exhibited at the Rencontres d’Arles in 2018 and published by This Book Is True.
Through her noteworthy contributions to the phenomenon of the photobook, Cristina de Middel has explored in her work the frontiers between reality and fiction. For ten years she worked as a photojournalist and war correspondent. In 2012 she privately published Los afronautas, a book that garnered several awards on its appearance. The book was the first of many volumes that have earned De Middel numerous distinctions: the Premio PhotoEspaña for the best photobook of 2014, the First PhotoBook Prize of the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards in 2012, the award of the Photo Folio Review at the Rencontres d’Arles in 2012, and a nomination for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize in 2013. In collaboration with Bruno Morais, she has undertaken the projects Excessocenus and Midnight at the Crossroads. In 2017 she received the Premio Nacional de Fotografía in Spain and became a member of Magnum Photos.