Dominican Republic

States of the Arts


Girl with Pink Dress

by Celeste Woss y Gil

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A young woman sits atop a platform, perhaps the corner of a stage, resting one foot on a stool. She exudes a sense of fatigue and wears a serious, forlorn facial expression. A shoe is cast aside, almost blending into the murky brown of the floor. The edges of objects appear to fuse with their surroundings, as pastel colours merge in harmony. The woman’s dress bares her thighs and falls low on her chest. She reaches towards her bare sole as if to rub it. The painting’s subject is seductive and sensual, complemented by the soft palette and brushstrokes.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

Cristo Rey

directed by Leticia Tonos Paniagua
Feature film

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Bad blood taints the narrow, crooked streets of Cristo Rey in Santo Domingo. A corrupt colonel pursues civilians in a bid to find the leader of a drug trafficking gang, El Bacá. One of the gang’s members cruises in a dark car, hunting down the colonel’s informant. Tension between Haitians and Dominicans is at a peak, adding to the disharmony. Hailing from either side of Hispaniola, Janvier and Rudy highlight the social division. They may share a love for El Bacá’s sister, Jocelyn, but this commonality only serves to deepen the animosity between them.

Words by Hugh Maloney

A Strange Gathering

by Alba Mota-Santana
Short story

The opening lines of ‘A Strange Gathering’ breathe life into the story’s frosty twilight setting. The buildings don ‘white hats’, the window sills ‘cry snowflakes’, and the trees blooming with ‘intermittent coloured lights’. A meeting of friends follows, as experienced from the perspective of Ana Maria, about whom the reader knows very little. The event is clouded by melancholy, and the protagonist wonders whether the solemn facial expressions worn at the dinner table betray a ‘pining for the fatherland left behind so many years ago’. The sombre mood permeates the narrative, bleeding into the bizarre and humorous events that follow.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

Why Not?

by Michel Camilo

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Throughout ‘Why Not?’, Michel Camilo’s jazz ensemble blazes. Seconds in, the pianist ignites the track’s central motif, the kindling from which all else grows. A snappy, syncopated groove crackles over a square walking bass, Camilo’s right hand dancing as his left burns steadily below. From there, the incendiary hook is snapped up and scattered, its underlying chord progression shaping even the pianist’s fiery solos. A finely tuned drum kit spits sharp sparks throughout, fuelling the frenzied ensemble until the piece’s final moments, when it dies down, suddenly extinguished.

Words by Hugh Maloney

More to discover

Girl with Pink Dress: View more of Celeste Woss y Gil’s artworks at the Dominican Art Blog.

Cristo Rey: Watch the trailer here.

A Strange Gathering: Read the story on the InTranslation website, along with another short story by Alba Mota-Santana, ‘The Wait’. Both are translated from the Spanish by Harry Morales.

Why Not?: Listen to the track here, and visit Michel Camilo’s website here.

Question of the day

Which artworks from/about the Dominican Republic would you recommend, and why?
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a novel by Junot Diaz. A dazzling wow – a solidly comic and political novel in the most blow-your-socks-off language since James Joyce.

– Emma Donoghue, author of The Wonder, Frog Music, and Room (via The Brief →)

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