C&AL: I find your series Racin (Root in Haitian Créole) on Haitian rituals very moving. Especially the theatricality of the portrait of an Untitled portrait you took in 2011. How did you capture this moment?
JA: This photo was taken during a Voodoo ceremony. I was already a photographer without knowing it. The person is in trance, and it was as if I was in trance too. You have the song. You have the energy. Everything is very intense. Magic happened and you can see that in the picture.
The other thing is that the people in that space are very generous with photographers. It makes me emotional to think about when they said: “Show us in a different light. Show how beautiful we are. You know we have so much bad press.” So that’s how I took that picture.
C&AL: In your series Clin d’Oeil: Haïti-Brésil (Wink: Brazil-Haiti) you explored the similarities between Haitian and Brazilian people and landscapes. This was one of your first projects as a professional photographer after the earthquake in 2010. How did this project come about and what was the relevance to you?
JA: I had the opportunity to go to Brasilia, São Paulo and Porto Alegre. I took photos and started to notice some similarities. My eyes have always been attracted to Black people and my mind was doing comparisons on different levels. For instance, we went to an agriculture company and their yearly budget was bigger than the budget for all of Haiti.
From that, I received the proposition to do an exhibition for the Centre Culturel Brésil-Haïti in Port au Prince. My perception of photography has since evolved. It was a great opportunity for a young photographer, but I would not do it again. It’s like someone who didn’t know how to swim and was just pushed into the water.