opening day: 19.08.2021, 14:00–21:00
closing weekend: 11–12.09.2021, 12:00–18:00
Andersa 13, Warsaw, PL
open: Wednesday-Saturday 14:00–18:00,
weekends 04–05.09 and 11–12.09.2021 12:00–18:00
or after prior notice: email@example.com, +48 502 22 55 22
Curator: Maria Prokesz
Artists: Ronald Mevs, Jacques Pierre, artists from the Charles Art Jerry school of vodou painting
Haitian Vodou, frequently (mis)spelled voodoo, is a religion and a tradition stemming directly from Haiti’s fraught history. It is the focus of Vodou Politics, an exhibition establishing the political and historical context through Jacques Pierre’s paintings of the same title to then focus on two examples of contemporary Haitian art: abstract works on paper by Ronald Mevs and vodou paintings by young artists studying at the Charles Art Jerry school.
Haiti’s current situation resulted from the complex combination of colonialism, religious oppression and corrupt foreign aid programmes, and as such gives us a unique opportunity to learn about recent world history. Slaves brought to the island Hispaniola starting in the 16th century by the Spanish and later by the French came from various regions of Africa (present-day Congo, Benin or Senegal, for example). Haitian vodou as practiced and observed today was shaped firstly by this clash of traditions – which resulted in the creation of a “joint” belief system – and later by the forced christianization of slaves enforced chronologically by the Spanish, the French and the Americans. As a result, today’s vodou is a far more complicated religious system than the Hollywood-shaped portrayal of “voodoo” might suggest. In the daily lives of many Haitians, vodou does not centre around using dolls or creating zombies but rather around asking the spirits, the loa, for health, good harvest or better income; exactly the same way Catholics ask the saints.
Jacques Pierre’s heavily narrative works seem to be trying to encompass the complexity of Haiti’s culture: its colonial history, contemporary western-influenced politics and exceedingly complex, omnipresent vodou religion. In the words of Ronald Mevs: “Postcolonial oppression of vodou resulted in the systematic destruction of religious objects and a severe lack of visual representation of history and culture. One wonders if the Haitian painter is not a victim of history without images, developing in him a kind of thirst that conditions the persistent narrativity of Haitian painting.” As for his own abstract oeuvre, he comments: “With my own fantasies, I returned to nature. Not nature in its reality, but rather in its divinity.”
The Charles Art Jerry school of vodou painting was created in the slums of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, as a free-of-charge chance for children and teenagers to learn a craft that they could use in the future to find employment opportunities. The proceeds from the works they sell return to the young people who can thus better support themselves in their daily lives or seek other opportunities for education.
The Asoto Foundation was created to present and explore often misrepresented cultural phenomena. We provide a platform for local artists from different parts of the world to talk about their communities and we prepare materials providing context to the Polish audience. In our first project, we show the culture and history of Haiti through art related to the vodou religion. The proceeds from the sale of the works shown at the Vodou Politics exhibition will go back to Haiti as well as support further activities of the Asoto Foundation.
Organisers: Jednostka Gallery, Asoto Foundation
Partner: Artesola Gallery