[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

5437: Haitian Spirit Comes to Wales (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 10:31 GMT 
 Haitian spirit comes to  Wales_BBC NEWS

A unique exhibition currently touring Wales gives an insight into a
religion often viewed with suspicion and clouded by B-movie cliches.
 South Wales photographer Phil Cope has spent the past 14 years
recording images of vodou altars from both Haiti and the southern United
States. In Altarations, he offers an opportunity for people in Wales to
explore ideas of belief, worship and spirituality at the start of a new
Millennium. The exhibition is part of a wider project -organised by the
Cardiff-based ffotogallery - which asks "what are our modern altars?"
and  "what do we now worship?".  Altars are a universal religious
phenomenon and act as a point of contact between the divine or spirit
world and people's everyday lives. Haiti -the poorest nation in the
Northern Hemipshere - gained its freedom in 1803 by defeating Napoleon
Bonaparte's expedition to  put down a rebellion on the then-French
  colony of Sainte Dominique. Vodou - the word means "spirit" - was the
religion of the slaves and they turned to its leaders for help. 
 Which is why the initial act of rebellion in 1791 was led by a vodou
high priest called Boukman. At the end of the 12-year struggle Haiti
 became independent. Vodou offers its believers access to
healing powers and a connection with relatives and friends
who have died. It is infused with images of the Catholic faith which was
imposed on the slaves by their masters but its roots lie in the
mythology and customs of their original African beliefs.The gods or
spirits of vodou - called the "lwa" - appear by taking possession of
their subjects. The most important "lwa" require worship from
their devotees and the altars are built as a focus for this.Followers of
vodou believe that only by showing such devotion will they provide a
 suitable "mount" for their gods.Initiates fall into a trance and speak
in tongues to mediate between the spirit world and the present. 
Many vodou altars now borrow images from Western popular culture -
especially those from films or TV programmes. Barbie dolls can be     
seen on altars to Erzulie Danton (?), the "lwa" of beauty and        
love, while Star Wars' Darth Vader is associated with the warrior
attributes of the Ogou family of spirits. The exhibition can currently
be seen at both g39 at Mill Lane, Cardiff, and at the Wyeside Arts
Centre in Builth Wells. It will tour Wales until next July. A series of
workshops is taking place during the exhibition's tour where people
create their own altars, including images of the things they
see as objects of worship.  Phil Cope plans to take an exhibition of
photographs of these modern Welsh altars back to Haiti next year.