Laura Heyman at the Philly Photo Arts Center

 Pa Bouje Ankó: Don’t Move Again

Philly Photo Arts Center

Showing until February 4th

by Isabel Oliveres


The simplicity of Laura Heyman’s photographs in Pa Bouje Ankó: Don’t Move Again is striking. In an ongoing process, Heyman set up a portable, formal portrait studio in various neighborhoods of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, a city still devastated by the massive earthquake which shook the nation in 2010. Everyone was welcome to have their picture taken, so the exhibition includes pictures of families, children, aid-workers and the occasional tourist, all with the same unpaved ground beneath their feet. The highlight of the show is a large-scale photograph of an infant in a stroller, his huge black eyes staring at the viewer. The piece is eerily reminiscent of Victorian photographs of the dead, though the spark of life in the child’s gaze is unmistakable. While at times the exhibit feels flat, it is invigorated by a few stellar pieces that capture the anger, desperation, and faint flicker of hope of the situation in Haiti two years after the catastrophe. Pa Bouje Ankó: Don’t Move Again might be a creole cry for the earth never to shake again, or it could refer to the stagnant state in which relief efforts in Haiti find themselves. Laura Heyman’s portraits leave this decision to the viewer.