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28516: Hermantin(News)vodou magic and migration

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Sun Sentinel

vodou magic and migration

Duval-Carrié's `Pantheon' contemplates the unknowable: myth, faith and the spirit to survive.

By Emma Trelles
Arts Writer

June 25, 2006

Entering Edouard Duval-Carrié's "The Vodou Pantheon" is like entering a shrine to magic and migration. Now at the Bass Museum, the four paintings and 16 bronze sculptures installed in the back of the second-floor gallery are a wildly original map which plots not only the arc of leaving one's homeland for another shore, but the movement of people and gods across time and cultures.

Whether depicting spirits ousted from their birthplace or a pink-gowned goddess flanked by Coast Guard officers, DuvalCarrié's work blurs the borders that the modern world uses to manage what is vast and unknowable: myth, faith and the source of strength behind survival.

"Pantheon" was created in the mid-'90s, but its tales are still timely, a mesh of the Haitian-born artist's imagination and the ongoing history of his people. The four large-scale paintings, first encountered upon entering the exhibit, offer a traditional and inventive twist on the Iwa, the mystical cast of divinities found in Vodou. And the chanting and drum-driven ritual music piped into the gallery primes viewers for Duval-Carrié's soulful journey.

The narrative begins with Le Départ (The Departure), where the Iwa are shackled in chains and forced to leave Haiti's once lush forests. La Traversée (The Crossing) and L' emprise du Funestre Baron (The Influence of the Disastrous Baron) show the spirits crowded within a small wooden boat, set adrift in an endless sea and later followed by the specter of Baron Samedi, the chief spirit who governs death. Duval-Carrié has placed the Baron within a gloomy-hued island whipped into chaos by wind and storm. It's a telling choice: His presence at the tail end of the journey is an ill omen for some of these travelers.

The final work captures Erzulie, the Vodou goddess of love, yanked from her ethereal cosmos and trapped on the steel stairs of a Coast Guard cutter. With her frilly skirts and jewels, she is a Caribbean take on Velazquez' Meninas, but Erzulie is far from the safe confines of an aristocratic sitting room. Instead she is caught in barefoot mid-step as she makes her way, stunned, off the boat and back to Haiti.

Duval-Carrié packs much into this small and meaty show -- the migration of African slaves to the Caribbean, for example, or the double-bladed sorrows of immigration, wherein the desire to escape is matched only by the longing to stay. Then there is the assortment of divinities, the at-once familiar and exotic palettes and imagery.

The bronze busts charge the installation with their own undeniable power. Known by Vodou practitioners as "des invisibles," and typically drawn as hieroglyphs, these detailed and ominous visages are wholly Duval-Carrié's invention. Here, the artist has fashioned them into a hybrid of human and otherworldly forms: Snakes wind their way from scalps, and so do blossoms and bark. Some are caught with mouths open, as if breathing in the world, others with eyes turned down at the corners or closed in concentration. The choice of such a weighty metal grounds the spirits it depicts with an earthly sense of permanence.

Not to be overlooked are the mixed media on aluminum works in the corner. Although made a dozen years after "Pantheon," and not technically part of the show, they offer a gleaming counterpoint to the statues and remind us that Duval-Carrié's netherworld not only carries reckoning but also a great beauty in its invisible hands.

Emma Trelles can be reached at etrelles@sun-sentinel.com.

on view

What: "Edouard Duval-Carrié: The Vodou Pantheon," "Allegories of Haitian Life From the Collection of Jonathan Demme" and "Haitian Paintings and Sculpture From the Bass Museum Collection"
Where: Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach

When: Through July 23; open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors/students, free for Miami Beach residents, members of participating Haitian organizations and children under 6



or bassmuseum .org