Exhibition Provides a Glimpse into the Practice of Modern-Day Vodou

Vodoun/Vodounon: Portraits of Initiates

October 13, 2010 – March 20, 2011

Stanford, California — Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents “Vodoun/Vodounon: Portraits of Initiates,” October 13, 2010 through March 20, 2011. This exhibition features 25 compelling diptychs by the Belgian photographer Jean-Dominique Burton, who pairs black-and-white portraits with color photographs for a sensitive portrayal of Vodoun practitioners and their sacred shrines.

Burton's images provide an exceptional glimpse into the esoteric domain of this traditional Fon religion, now called variously Vodou, Vodun, Vaudou, or Vaudoux. The artworks depict Burton's journey to seek out the great Vodounons (initiates) of the religion as practiced in the heart of its birthplace, the current-day Republic of Benin. Burton's work was also captured in a documentary video, which plays alongside the artworks in this exhibition. VOODOO, the Origins, directed by Samuel Lampaert, features interviews with the Vodoun initiates who collaborated with the photographer.

Burton — whose earlier work portrayed the traditional chiefs and kings of Burkina Faso — photographed Benin's Vodounons in their most sacred environments, such as temples, shrines, and forests. Their black-and-white portraits, done in the manner of traditional European portrait photography, present a visual contrast to the colorful and material abundance of the sacred spaces, which are a subtle mix of sculpture, painting, and installation.

Modern-day Vodou, practiced throughout West Africa and the African Diaspora, is the focal point of programs held in conjunction with this exhibition. These include a blessing of the exhibition by Bay Area Vodoun practitioners on October 13 at 5 pm; a series of films presented on November 4, 11, and 18 at 6 pm; a dance, music, and storytelling performance on December 2, at 6 pm; and a lecture entitled “Gods Without Green Cards,” by Donald Cosentino, Ph.D., on March 2, at 5 pm. Admission to the museum, the exhibition, and the programs is free.

The exhibition was made possible by the Bill and Jean Lane Fund, the Halperin Exhibitions Fund, and the Joan and John Jay Corley Fund for Performance.

# # #

VISITOR INFORMATION: Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free after 4 pm weekdays and all day on weekends. Information: 650-723-4177, museum.stanford.edu.

PUBLICITY IMAGES: High-resolution images are available for publicity use. Contact Margaret Whitehorn at 650-724-3600 or email mmwhite@stanford.edu



Fact sheet for exhibition

Avleketenon

 

 

 

 

Avleke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Priest
Jean-Dominique Burton (Belgium b. 1952)
Avleketenon
Photograph
Courtesy of Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp, Brussels

Shrine
Jean-Dominique Burton
Avleke
Photograph
Courtesy of Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp, Brussels

Mamissi

 

 

 

 

Koffi

 

 

 

Priestess
Jean-Dominique Burton
Mamissi Togbesson Toffodji
Photograph
Courtesy of Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp, Brussels


Shrine
Jean-Dominique Burton
Koffi
Photograph
Courtesy of Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp, Brussels