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28516: Hermantin(News)vodou magic and migration
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
vodou magic and migration
Duval-Carrié's `Pantheon' contemplates the unknowable: myth, faith and the
spirit to survive.
By Emma Trelles
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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