Methods and Media of the Absent/Present.
Visual Approaches to Vodun and Vodou
Vodun is a globalized spiritual practice and knowledge system which originated in West Africa; Haitian Vodou is one of its many diasporic adjustments, formed in the contexts of the Black Atlantic. For different reasons, Vodun’s and Vodou’s practices and imageries have been of interest to ethnographers, artists, and art historians – in the West and in the Global South. Images, through misrepresentation and demonization in research, museum display, photobooks, journalism, literature, and film, have deeply affected how practices of Vodun and Vodou are perceived. New academic and artistic approaches to Vodun and Vodou are challenging historic and contemporary views, methods and media. They also pointedly challenge the researcher’s and artist’s positionality.
The two-day workshop investigates the use of photography, public images, tangible manifestations, and other media in spiritual and artistic practices related to Vodun’s and Vodou’s networks from different perspectives: How could terms and methods of representations be adapted, following Vodun’s and Vodou’s epistemologies or ethics? For example, contemporary photographers connect and visualize the spiritual and material networks between West Africa, Haïti and the diasporas. How can the materials and forms of Vodun/Vodou be understood from interdisciplinary perspectives? How can the many tangible and intangible aspects of practice be represented in digital and material spaces, respecting the right to opacity?
This workshop aims to discuss the role and influence of different places, material forms, displays such as shrines, museums, or digital imagery. We will investigate how different actors are involved in the knowledge production in Vodun’s/Vodou’s discourses. Whose narrative or voice will be heard, how can shifts in meaning be made visible?
Thursday, September 14, 2023
by Bärbel Küster (Zurich)
Dancing Altars: Embodied Visualities and Domestic Enslavement in Togolese Sacred Arts
Moderated by Birgit Meyer (Utrecht)
Dealing with Textual Unboundedness: Gorovodu Objects, Images, Ritual, and Performance in Southeastern Ghana and Togo
“It Is Humans Who Make the Gods”: On Autonomy, Causation and Relations