The narration takes place between two locations; France and Haiti – where a ghost story unfolds about the history of the Haitian revolution. In 1791, the slaves and the freed people of colour in the colony of Saint-Domingue rose up against the French. In the process they abolished slavery on the island and established the first free black state in the Americas with the Haitian constitution of 1804.
Somewhat obscured and ignored throughout history, considered minor to the revolutions of the USA and France, the Haitian Revolution was perhaps the only revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries to truly live up to the Enlightenment ideals of the universal human rights of freedom and equality.
The Revolution was initially led by a former slave who became an army general: François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (20 May 1743 – 7 April 1803), also known as Toussaint L’Ouverture. He was arrested by Napoleon Bonaparte’s army in 1802 and brought to France, imprisoned in a medieval castle in the Jura Mountains where he died from pneumonia and malnutrition in April 1803.
The exhibition has been conceived as an expansion of the research for a feature film, staged through four rooms that include archival displays, a sound installation and four films. Overtures takes the viewer on a journey from the National Archives in Paris, to the frozen stratigraphic landscapes of the French Jura and into the heart of a baroque-like limestone cave, through rivers and waterfalls into the sea that connects these two worlds, eventually arriving in Haiti, where we come across a group of young actors rehearsing scenes from a Creole translation of the play Monsieur Toussaint by Édouard Glissant.