Monday, February 24, 2014

Cristina Garcia Roberto’s ‘rituales’ create arresting, lingering memory

“I photograph what thrills me, what gives me a blow to the heart, what captivates me.” That deceptively simple modus operandi has taken photographer Cristina Garcia Rodero around the world and into some very unsettling locales — notably to document occult ceremonies in her native Spain, and in India, Venezuela and Haiti.

In Haiti, there’s a common saying: 80 percent of the population is Catholic, 20 percent Protestant, but 100 percent is Vodou. The island’s first non-indigenous, non-European residents were brought as slaves from the part of Africa that is today’s Benin and they carried their religion with them. Vodou is one of the branches of African-based religion that evolved in the Caribbean and Latin America. It has a 500-year history in Haiti, where many of its original stories and images were hidden from colonial masters behind the colors, symbols and faces of Catholic saints and liturgy.

Rituales en Haiti, the exhibition of photographs by Cristina Garcia Rodero at Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art + Design, is an immersive introduction to the diverse practices of Vodou in sites and ceremonies around the country and around the calendar. For those unfamiliar with religious practice involving spirit possession and animal sacrifice, confrontation with some of the exhibition’s images can be arresting and even shocking.

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