C&AL: There’s a global discourse, mostly originating in Western countries, focused on environmental issues and the solutions that can be brought to bear, while remaining blind to the realities of the countries that are being hit the hardest. How would you define environmental issues on the basis of this work and this Haitian viewpoint?
K2D: Haiti is one catastrophe drowned out by another. It’s a country that’s been destroyed too by international aid, by debt, and by natural disasters. We have a corrupt state that depends on international aid and can’t provide food for its people. The crisis also comes out of the solutions contributed by the West. That’s also part of the crisis for us. People bring us oven-ready recipes that are not suited to our way of life, our way of cooking, of eating, of collaborating; they’re based on Western utopias of so-called modernization, but they don’t take our basic needs into account.
The state isn’t tuned into the population—it’s serving imperialism. It sets out models that will be rejected by the people sooner or later because they don’t see themselves in these new principles. It was also difficult for us to discuss the work. How are we meant to express this? Because, actually, what we say is intended just as much for the people in charge as it is for ordinary citizens, but in a very different way. And this is also what I call the Haitian viewpoint, this intimacy that we have. As photographers who know the way people express themselves, if we go out in the country, what people say won’t be the same as what we’d find in Port-au-Prince. With regard to the drought problems, for instance, the people there also see it through the prism of their beliefs. For some of the people we met, the reason there wasn’t any rain for several months was tied in with a curse, following the murder of a well-known spiritual grand master in the area. So if you come in with your spiel about climate change, it’s not going to cut through, since these are words that belong to a different discursive register… You need to listen to everyone and hear what they have to say, while also sharing alternatives that are within their range without having to count on political promises that never get off the ground.