In "Under a Grudging Sun", Alex Webb has narrowed his focus to a particular time and place, to "sad and beguiling Haiti" during the brief period after the departure of its dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Webb had made several trips to Haiti before Duvalier left, but when he first returned during "Haiti Libere" he was struck by a new sense of freedom and openness among the people. Here in photographs is the story of that period, when some of the poorest, most oppressed people in the Western Hemisphere had hope for democratic reforms. Yet here also is the tragic dashing of that hope and the horrifying and violent chaos that enveloped Haiti.
Webb's masterful photojournalism does not so much bring us 'the news' as it brings us into the news: into the streets, markets, and harbors, and into the lives of the Haitian people. His photographs make palpable the sense of imminent violence, the sensuous color amid desperate poverty, the turmoil and the enveloping heat in a way that television news never can and traditional photojournalism rarely does. It is the very intimacy and emotional complexity of Webb's depiction of Haiti that enables his photographs to speak with such sympathy for so many people and places where life goes on vividly and tragically in the severest of circumstances.
Size: 12 1/4 x 9 3/4"
Publisher: Thames & Hudson (New York/London, 1989)