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  • En cofidencia irregular | Belkis Ayón

    In irregular confidence David Mateo March 4, 1997 © LA GACETA DE CUBA Magazine, No 2, March / April 1997, year 35, p. 50-51.v ​ … Not a single word of anticipation or impatience. She knows that she is the main reason for this conversation and yet she waits patiently for Segura to finish explaining her sculpture project to me. I have the impression that I have seen her many times in that same deferential attitude, lavishing everything as if everything were superior to her. I do not even know if it is by adhesion or remembrance that I have come to think that his serenity has nothing to do with a marriage courtesy, but that even condescension continues to be his second virtue after colographies. “It seems that your work aspires to become universal, I tell him, as he hands me a group of matrices on a small table in his apartment in Alamar. The first one represents a fish woman, beginning in the spiritual world of one between two Jicoteas women; but the poetic atmosphere that the relationship between each one of them acquires is so moving that the allegory of the Abakuá legend and its particularly liturgical iconography almost seems to diminish; I had already noticed something similar with the inclusion of the Holy Spirit in one of the winning works at the Maastrich International Biennial. ​ To some extent I have always been distant from the Abakuá mythology because my position is rather that of an observer. Distance is precisely that perspective in which I place myself to establish analogies and incorporate any universal experience into the particular logic of myth. I could give you the example of the work Repentida, which was one of the winners in the recent Engraving Meeting, in it a woman appears tearing her skin as a symbol of the ambivalence between what we want to be and what we really are. It seems to me that the Abakuá theme is going to be the starting point for a long time, the pretext for comparisons with life. The universe that its characters and incidental narratives enclose is enough by itself to prefigure any reason for human existence, an equivalence that I have begun to glimpse much more now with the relationship studies that I am carrying out between the mythical Abakuá and Christian religiosity. , for the purpose of creating something of a kind of personal holiness. ​ -But won't you deny me that this process of interlinking between the specific circumstances of the myth and the social cosmogony is produced through a merely female speculation? Do you remember when I told you that you insert a feminine ideal where there never was? ​ I have never thought that my work is feminist. I've never had that built-in calling. The first person who tried to draw attention to this aspect was the critic Eugenio Valdés, and it may even be that there is some reason that my work induces a certain femininity, because it reflects my own existential uncertainty; but I have not conceptualized it that way. The legend of the Sikán is a theme that I have been working on in my engravings since San Alejandro and what has always caught my attention is the condition of victim of the female character, but from a rather generic position, weighing the connotations and the analogies that could be derived from such a situation. ​ And why then your insistence on self-representation? ​ It is true that I am the model of my figurations. They shift with me from one state to another continuously, and even lose weight along with me. They are characters that I submit because I like the idea of ​​deciding their destinies. They are the only alternative of revenge, or correction, lightening the term a little, with which I can count in reality; however I live a less mythical life, I exist from a much more objective perspective, much more objective. ​ The imposition of destinations should consequently alter the meaning of the Abakuá fiction that you allude to. Aren't you afraid of offending the legend? What do the believers you have come in contact with think of that? ​ The Abakuá who have valued my work are mostly intellectuals, and in one way or another they have identified with the project. So far I have not found any detractors. The very mystery of the legend, how hidden some of its meanings have been in the historical development is what has given me precisely the opportunity to make certain speculations, but my position has never been to recriminate the brotherhood, but for the contrary to respecting it and promulgating it in its broadest cultural sense. ​ In this part of the conversation we have already reviewed about six or seven matrices, meticulously delineated with synthetic material, sandpaper, carborundum, gesso and all kinds of rare products in the colographic tradition. It occurs to me to ask Belkis what could happen if all those singular montages that are already ready to give the effects that she has been anticipating, had been drawn or painted on a canvas, and that is when her frankness turns into stupor: ​ I have always been a very bad draftsman. Perhaps because they never demanded an Academy in the Elementary School studies, in the end I decided on engraving. Without realizing it I was creating a kind of trauma with drawing and painting and so I began to look for a type of image that was credible but did not emphasize anatomical delicacies. Then I discovered that with this synthesis of details I protected the mystery of the images more, and that I had to continue emphasizing poses, gestures, and gaze, trying to avoid certain definitions. I may one day get over the trauma and start painting, but I haven't thought about doing it yet. ​ What in your opinion are the immediate antecedents of all this form of representation of yours? ​ I really liked Russian Byzantine icons. I spent a good deal of time looking at them in art books, until one day I discovered that they were perfectly comparable to all Abakuá imagery. I remember that it was a time when I was researching Afro-Cuban cults and specifically the Anafouranas when something curious happened to me: I was in a class in San Alejandro trying to make a kind of dancing devil and Pablo Borges, who was my teacher at that time, told me with the spirit of being impressed, that what I was doing could bring me serious implications, and it was from that moment that I became interested in this type of representation; although in those days my approach to the matter was purely esoteric. In the libraries they denied me the information and enough I had to ask for a letter of authorization in the School. As far as the Legend of the Sikán is concerned, I consider that the reading I did of the book "El monte" by Lidia Cabrera was transcendental, although my awareness of the episode was total when I studied "Los Ñañigos" by Enrique Sosa. I have been about to comment to Belkis about two categories of the Canadian critic Northrop Frye: myth and commitment, which, although they were not issued specifically for the field of Plastic Arts, through them an approximate allegory of his work could also be attempted artistic. But I have only been on the verge of doing it, because in the end I have reserved it for myself, procuring a few more reasons for the literal intervals of this parliament. Something that may even run the risk of forced matching and that goes something like this: "The engravings of Belkis Ayón could be interpreted from the maxim of the critic Northrop Frye, in which he assures that art is" a laboratory where new myths of commitment were prepared, released. " Fabular selection occurs in her case by way of visual and epic identification, mediated almost entirely by a deeply feminine aesthetic rationality - which apparently does not mean the same as feminist, although it is an approach to a deeply macho myth. - We would say that your work assumes a story in which an unequivocal value judgment is represented, from the point of view of the sexual nature of the person who stars and transmits it, although that judgment provides or alludes to cosmogony phenomena such as good and evil, betrayal and sacrifice and the confrontation between victims and perpetrators, and it is precisely within those limits of chaos that she incurs, restoring patterns of behavior and imposing alternative roles. If it were allegories of Frye's notions, his "new myth of commitment" would lie in the fact of opposing a sense of critical analysis to the hermetic interpretation of the mythological event and also in the additional purpose of extending those same collation experiences towards other manifestations of the interhuman bond. Short tense ending and clearly blessed, where the speculator is relieved of his guilt complex: Belkis, it is one thing that I believe in the conformity of all our irregular conversations or our considerations about the plastic arts, and another that I go around commenting on vindications in Cuban engraving, relying on the work of 6 or 7 artists, among which I intend to include you by the way, without even having consulted you before. That is why I take the opportunity now: Am I or am I not right? ​ I believe that important technical concepts and principles are currently being revitalized in Cuban engraving. In my particular case, I would tell you that I am very interested in the level of discursive and aesthetic credibility that matrices can achieve in their final printing, and therefore I try to generate value effects, including color, by experimenting with novel materials. In other young engravers, the tradition has also been altered from many points of view, fundamentally with the experimentation of new supports, with the flexibility of the criteria on seriality with the dynamization, and sometimes even challenge or parody, of technical methods. habitual and in the very consolidation of the ethics of the trade ... and if all this can be called renewal, then I do not think it is bad that someone like you continues to comment on it. ​ PREVIOUS article back to texts

  • Brujas | Belkis Ayón

    WITCHES, BUT ALSO WARLOCKS Museo de Arte Maníaco, Colonial house by Alfredo Ramos, on Línea 106, Havana, Cuba. October 26, 2014 Under the title of Witches, but also warlocks, the Aglutinador space and the Maniac Art Museum these days shows a sui generis exhibitions that blends art with religious rites and beliefs from different parts of the planet. Celebrating its twenty years, this space for creation and exhibition directed by the artist Sandra Ceballos, brought together almost fifty people in this exhibition where spirits, amulets, orishas, paranormal events and energy are the protagonists. Artists, esoteric astrologers, researchers, healers, ritualists, believers, practitioners, mystics, both Cuban and foreign, invoke magic, sensuality and spirituality through various techniques, styles, textures, genres, and both conventional and experimental expressive possibilities. The exhibition, made up of 38 works, can be seen until the end of this month in the colonial house of Alfredo Ramos, on Línea 106, permanent headquarters of the Museum of Manic Art in Havana.

  • Desasosiego | Belkis Ayón

    RESLESSNESS / RESLESSNESS Belkis Ayón Manso ​ When Darrel Couturier sent to request by fax the title for this exhibition he still did not have it, he had not even thought about it, to be honest. That day I had a great commitment to attend the opening of the first personal exhibition of two of my students. After finishing my work as a spectator and as a guardian angel (teacher), I went to my friend Cristina's house where I would meet Rafa who would bring the letter to Darrel with the title of the exhibition. When I left this other, nothing occurred to me - I entered a state of desperation imperceptible to the eye - again showing my moderate personality, less to laugh and do great colography. I thought about the works that I had already finished and I asked myself what feelings they have in common, since in general I have been working on the subject for years - and I associate it a little with what I have been feeling in recent months, a great UNREST, something that almost unconsciously my work began to appear. As, I previously mentioned the subject that I have been working on for years, since I began to study in the 3 year of the San Alejandro Academy, it is one of the components of Cuban culture on the African side, the carabalíes and of them, the Secret Society Abakúa, made up only of men, which emerged in the 1930s in the 19th century in Cuba. Above all, I intend to give my vision, my point of view as an observer, presenting in a synthetic way the aesthetic, plastic and poetic aspect that I have discovered in Abakúa relating it to the questioning of the nature of man, with personal experiences, that feeling that sometimes it captures and we do not know how to define them, with those fleeting emotions, with the spiritual incorporating symbols from other cultures that I use to express my ideas with greater richness and quality. I work with characters such as the leopard man, identifying with him the power, the composition, the aggression of society, a male who sacrifices Sikán, a woman who discovers the secret and dies for the sake of it passing to men and not disappearing. The secret consisted of a voice, SACRED VOICE, produced by a FISH discovered by her when she returned from the river, the fish was the reincarnation of Old Obón, Tanzé, of Abasí, the Supreme God. The transmission of the sacred voice was finally settled on the hide of a goat vibrating on the sacred drum of EKUE. My images come to them through the technical colography of engraving that consists of a kind of collage printed with a wide variety of materials placed and glued on a cardboard support. Sikán, a woman who prevails in the works presented because she, like me, lived and lives through me in uneasiness, insistently looking for a way out. ​ Belkis Ayon Havana, Cuba, January 1998 BACK TO REVELATIONS NEXT ARTICLE

  • FRG Hudson | Belkis Ayón

    FRG: BELKIS AYÓN Gallery FRG OBJECTS & DESIGN / ART, Hudson, New York, United States. ​ August - September, 2014 The FRG OBJECTS & DESIGN / ART gallery, specialized in the art of design, from Hudson, New York, had the pleasure of presenting in August last year, a collection of visionary pieces, rarely appreciated in the United States, by the Cuban artist Belkis Ayón (Havana, 1967-1999), from the private collection of Carole and Alex Rosenberg. The pieces could be appreciated in an environment designed in parity, complete harmony, and connection with these masterpieces of contemporary Cuban printmaking. The exhibition opened to the public until September 30, 2014.

  • I Edition | Belkis Ayón

    I National Collography Contest Belkis Ayón ANNOUNCEMENT Basis All Cuban students and artists with engravings made in the collography technique, printed between 2011 and 2012, who have not participated in a previous exhibition, event, or contest, will be able to participate. ​ Inscription The works must be sent unframed through certified mail or in person before March 10, 2013, to the headquarters of the Centro Provincial de Arte de Cienfuegos, at Ave 56, No. 2601, between 25 and 27, Cienfuegos, CP 55100, telephone: (043) 55 06 76. Each artist will have the right to present three works (independent or triptych) duly signed and numbered in pencil, which cannot exceed 60 x 80 cm. Workshop or artist tests are not accepted. The works submitted to the contest must be unpublished. ​ Selection A jury will be appointed to select and award the works received. The selected and awarded works will be exhibited at the Cienfuegos Art Gallery, within the program of the 7th La Estampa Fair, an event that will be officially inaugurated on April 6, 2013, at 9 p.m., at which time the will make public the final decision of the jury. The exhibition will remain open to the public for 30 days. The exhibition will be presented in Havana during the next engraving meeting to be held in 2013. The selected artists will be given the Certificate of Participation once the exhibition is over, along with the return of their works within 45 days. The organizers of the contest are responsible for the care of the works sent, running with all the expenses generated by the return of the same to their authors. ​ Prize A single and indivisible Grand Prize will be awarded consisting of 3,000 Cuban pesos (donation from the artists belonging to the workshop and to the Belkis Ayón Estate), a diploma, and a reproduction of a work by the artist to whom the contest is dedicated. The Jury will award mentions at its discretion without financial endowment. The winning works will become part of the Cabinet of La Estampa de Cienfuegos. The award-winning artist will be invited to perform a personal exhibition at the Cienfuegos Art Center next year. Participating in the Belkis Ayón National Coloring Contest implies acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. The Jury's decision will be final. ​ ​ More information ​ Organizing Committee of the Belkis Ayón National Coloring Contest ​ GRAPHIC SOCIETY OF CIENFUEGOS (043) 51 79 79 ESTATE OF BELKIS AYÓN, HAVANA (07) 642 30 83 JURY AWARDS Events and Exhibitions I N ational Collograpy Contest Belkis Ayon Cienfuegos, 2013 Selected works and Exhibition Muestra Concurso Exhibition Texturas Develadas Exhibition Nuevas Circusntancias

  • Belkis Ayón Estate | Belkis Ayón

    BELKIS AYÓN ESTATE FOUNDATION ​ Created by Dra. Katia Ayón Manso, in 2003, the Estate has set itself as its main objectives: • Promote the artist's plastic work • Preserve and restore printed works • Preserve and restore matrices • Creation of the Ayón Space Opening of the exhibition Nkame: A Retrospective of the Cuban printmaker, Belkis Ayón (1967-1999), Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Texas, United States, 2018 ACHIEVEMENTS ​ Since the creation of the Estate, the work of Belkis Ayón has been present in innumerable solo and personal exhibitions of a national and international nature, which shows the importance of her work for Cuban and universal culture. ​ The BELKIS AYÓN AWARD was given on the occasion of the VII National Printmaking Encounter that convenes the Experimental Graphic Workshop of Havana and in recognition of the valuable teaching work carried out by the artist, it was decided to award a prize among the competing works of the students of the second year of the San Alejandro from the National Academy of Plastic Arts. ​ In 2009 we held the first anthological exhibition of the artist in the Convent of San Francisco de Asís, Old Havana. In 2010 we carried out a very significant and transcendental project for her work of art, the book Nkame. Belkis Ayón, produced by the Turner Publishing House in Madrid, and the participation of important researchers and art critics such as José Veigas, Cristina Vives, David Mateo, Lázara Menéndez, Orlando Hernández, Eugenio Valdés, and others who exalted with a great vision the engravings of the artist. ​ Since 2016, the exhibition Nkame has toured different cities in the United States in successful presentations, receiving an excellent reception from the American public. With the curatorship of Cristina Vives and the management of the tour by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California. ​ Fowler Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles, California. 2016 - 2017 Museo del Barrio, New York, New York. 2017. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri. 2017. Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Texas, 2018 Scottsdale, Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Arizona. 2018 - 2019 Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois. 2020 (Closed earlier to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic) Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon. 2021 ​ ​ Inauguration of Nkame: Belkis Ayón (1967-1999) Retrospective Exhibition, Convent of San Francisco de Asís, Old Havana, Havana, Cuba, 2009 Opening of the Nkame Exhibition: A Retrospective of the Cuban printmaker, Belkis Ayón (1967-1999), Museo del Barrio , New York, New York, United States, 2017 PROJECTIONS ​ Future projects are based on continuing to disseminate the legacy of Belkis to transcend among future generations of artists and make printmaking a greater art that occupies the place it deserves as a manifestation of the plastic arts.

  • Nkame Oregon | Belkis Ayón

    NKAME: A RETROSPECTIVE OF THE CUBAN PRINTMAKER BELKIS AYÓN (1967-1999) Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, United States ​ February 6 - September 5, 2021 ​ The traveling exhibition Nkame: A Retrospective of the Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón (1967-1999) was inaugurated on February 6, 2021, at its seventh venue, the Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum. A project developed by this prestigious institution and the Belkis Ayón Estate, Havana, Cuba. The exhibition is curated by Cristina Vives. Exhibition Tour Management by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. Photographs by Jonathan Smith. For more information, visit the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art website

  • Exposiciones | Belkis Ayón


  • Confesiones | Belkis Ayón

    Confessions ​ Belkis Ayon February 11, 1991 ​ Some time ago I studied some of the components of our culture, on the African side, the carabalíes and of them the Abakuá Secret Society, made up only of men, a mutual aid and relief society, self-financed by its members. It resurfaces in the 30s of the 19th century in Cuba under other conditions and objectives very different from those of its African ancestors. There are people who feel and have the need to believe in something, which is inherent to human existence and one of those many examples is the following ... that even after so many years initiation ceremonies are held, promotion of obones or creation of new powers; crying or nlloro (funeral ceremony for the death of a member of society); that of refreshing the sacred pieces of the liturgy; as well as the assemblies of squares or the general assemblies; that are still carried out mainly in Havana and Matanzas, exclusively in Cuba. "To be a man you do not have to be an Abakuá but, to be an Abakuá you have to be a man", society does not come to seek prestige but to give it prestige, the best of itself. "There were women in Calabar who played like men in their power (...) and when the ceremonies began, in the mountains, in a cave on the banks of a lagoon, the men stole their secret ..." "Ekue hates women females. The secret is absolutely for MEN ... "(1) By addressing this unknown and hermetic theme for many, not being popular as another component of the Cuban cultural heritage for dealing with certain aspects that have not yet been clarified, I intend above all to make my vision known from its interwoven overflowing sacred memories religious imagination, presenting them in a synthetic way the aesthetic, plastic and poetic aspect that I have discovered in Abakuá (...) "transferring a complex message that despite its conceptual dimension is never direct but allusive ..." (2), going back many times to its origins in Africa. The antecedents of this secret society must be looked for well past in time because they arose in very primitive economic-social formations where man faced the unknown countless times, always seeking a satisfactory answer to the natural and social phenomena that surrounded him. that in my engravings you will be able to observe an infinity of points that coincide with the cultural fact itself, verifiable both in the field of ideas and in visual references. The antecedents of the ñañigos were back in Africa the Secret Societies Ngbe and Ekpe whose names in ekoi and efik respectively mean leopard man. These associations, due to their cults and their great economic and ideological power, were spreading the leopard as a totemic animal whose ... "fraternity is established on a foot of perfect equality between a human group on one side and a group of things, generally animals and plants ..." from the other, as Frazer would deduce in Man, God, and Immortality, totemism, together with the other primitive religious forms (magic, fetishism, and animism) generally achieve sympathetic magic by law of similarity as a result, which they will permeate the life of primitive man, his thoughts and actions. These societies can be found in the area that was included in the so-called Oil Rivers, from the piers of the vast Niger Delta and the Cross River in present-day South Nigeria and part of Cameroon, in front of the Biafra Bay. When I begin to investigate this interesting and mysterious brotherhood, unique in Cuba in its sacred memories -by the way very tangled-I can select characters that in my view are the most important to convey what I want and will be presented in all my works as : the leopard man, designated and identified with him by the different positions and hierarchies of society, to Sikán, a woman who discovers the secret and is sacrificed so that it passes to men and does not disappear. Sikán dies in vain, the secret fades more and more; This consisted of a voice, UYO UYO ANFONO sacred voice produced by a fish discovered by her when she returned from the river, the fish was the reincarnation of the old king called Obón Tanzé, King of Efigueremo who at the same moment was the reincarnation of Abasí, GOD SUPREME. Many were the efforts and attempts, for the transmission of the sacred voice because each time it faded more. The last transmission was on the hide of a goat; There yes! There yes! There was ... "that peculiar, frighteningly adorable sound ..." (3), the voice that vibrates on the sacred EKUE drum. There are innumerable variations of popular imagery when recounting how the events that gave rise to this type of secret society happened and from them I show you my variations intertwining their signs with mine; I use colography turned into a medium with which I feel very identified since it adjusts to my way of doing and that for some years I have been working, offering very peculiar visual information with effects and results that in a certain way harmonize with the subject. In addition to the possibilities that it presents in its multiple nature, which as it is generally defined, is the printing of a collage with a wide variety of materials which are glued on a cardboard support. Referring to the use of color there was a stage that I worked with a great variety of them and at that moment I was very satisfied, but over time I began to feel a certain nostalgia for black, I recognized that I was strongly united making me return to it. According to the materials that I use, he gives me a whole range of whites, grays and blacks, conceiving him as a great ally of the type of figuration I work with, with his composition ... all so hermetic, secret and mysterious in addition to the strength that he transmits to us. I think that these engravings could be a spiritual testimony if you will, not lived in my own flesh, but imagined, where I placed in the foreground an equivalent of the human figure, on which my ideas ultimately and consequently turn, which are memories of the memory materialized as a kind of crush that when the light is turned off and on, new memories appear accompanied by a successful classmate, intuition. I consider that there is a very close relationship between the vision that I offer you and that of the Abakuá Secret Society clearly transmitted in the work of Lydia Cabrera: … "By the knowledge and power of the signs, it makes the past present, recreates the hill, the river, the palm tree, in the sacred places of Awána Bekúra Mendó." Belkis Ayon / 91 ​ NOTES: (1) CABRERA, Lidia. The Abakuá Secret Society narrated by old followers. Havana, Editions CR, 1958 (2) MOSQUERA, Gerardo. Essay on America. Juan Francisco Elso. March 1986 (3) CABRERA, Lidia. The Abakuá Secret Society narrated by old followers. Havana, Editions CR, 1958 PREVIOUS ARTICLE BACK TO TEXTS

  • nkame museo del barrio | Belkis Ayón

    NKAME: RETROSPECTIVE OF THE CUBAN RECORDER BELKIS AYÓN (1967-1999) Museo del Barrio, New York, United States ​ January 25, 2018 - April 29, 2018 The traveling exhibition Nkame: A Retrospective of the Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón (1967-1999) was inaugurated on June 13, 2017, at its second venue, Museo del Barrio, New York. A project organized by this prestigious institution and the Belkis Ayón Estate, Havana, Cuba. The exhibition is curated by Cristina Vives. Exhibition Tour Management by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. Photographs: Darrel Couturier, Yadira Leyva Ayón, and Courtesy of the Museo del Barrio For more information, visit the Museo del Barrio website Press coverage New York Times ​ The Village Voice one-of-2017s-best-shows / + & cd = 1 & hl = es-419 & ct = clnk & client = firefox-b-ab ​ Art by Excellencies ​ ArtNexus ​ Jacques and Natasha. GELMAN FOUNDATION ​ The opinion ​ Granma ​ Repeating islands ​ ARTS INITIATIVE. Columbia University in the City of New York ​ THE BROOKLYN RAIL. Critical perspectives on Arts, Politics, and Culture ​ Art geek ​ One Arty Minute ​ Ethnic Epicure ​ ​ Art Stack ​ Your New York Magazine ​ Artnet news What's the Best Work of Art you saw this Summer? 18 Well-Traveled Experts weigh in ​ ZEALnyc ​ The Tempest ​ Harlem One Stop ​ New Yorkio ​ OnCuba Billboard June 30, 2017 ​ Afro-Cuban Directory ​ ​

  • Roots and more | Belkis Ayón

    ROOTS AND MORE: JOURNEY OF THE SPIRITS Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, Holland ​ April 7 - November 7, 2009 Roots and More: Journey of the Spirits Scheduled to run from April 2009 to November 2009. Venue: Afrika Museum, Postweg 6, 6571 CS Berg en Dal, The Netherlands. Curator will be Wouter Welling The Roots and More: Journey of the Spirits exhibition is scheduled for 2009 and will almost certainly transfer to the Miami Art Museum in Florida at the end of 2009. It is a thematic exhibition on spirituality in the work of contemporary artists from the African diaspora ( specifically Brazil, Britain, Cuba, Curaçao, Haiti, Suriname and the United States): different countries and different generations. The art is spectacular: suspended boats with luminous spirit beings, singing sculptures, a spirit being that squeaks and groans as it rows a huge boat, the macabre sculptures of Haiti's mysterious Bizango society, spirits in bottles, paintings with magic signs and strange apparitions. In many cases the artists are priests, famous in their homeland but often unknown in Europe. For all their variety, they display one particularly striking similarity: they are all rooted in a spiritual world that is thoroughly African. Some are remote descendants of slaves who were deported to the Caribbean and America. The slaves took their traditional religions with them - religions originating in various regions of West and Central Africa (Benin, Nigeria, Congo, Angola). In the parts of the world where they were set to work, their ancestor spirits and the spirits of natural forces became allied in various ways with the dominant Christian religion - a forced amalgamation, for the slaves were not allowed to continue their own traditions. They were to prove spiritually very flexible. The Africans and their descendants recognized features of their own spirit beings in Catholic saints, and so were able to appropriate the saints and incorporate them into their own pantheon. New religions arose, such as Candomblé and Umbanda in Brazil, Winti in Suriname, Santeria, Abakuá and Palo in Cuba, Voodoo in Haiti and derivatives of it such as Hoodoo in the United States, and Obeah in places including Jamaica and Trinidad (although the latter are really forms of traditional 'healing arts' rather than religions). Other denominations sprang up in turn around them. This highly complex spirit world, with its own rituals, songs, music, symbols and images, is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists. There are constantly recurring themes: the journey of the spirits (boats), the relationship between the world of humans and the world of spirit beings and death (the domain, in voodoo, of Baron Samedi). People can have a relationship with both the world of the dead and the spirit world. Over twenty artists have been selected for Roots and More: Journey of the Spirits. Among others they are Belkis Ayón, Barra, José Bedia, Société Secrète Bizango (a group), María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Mestre Didi, Sokari Douglas Camp, Edouard Duval-Carrié, Félix Farfan, Adenor Gondim, Stivenson Magloire, Pascale Monnin, Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal, Gerald Pinedo, Edival Ramosa, Alison Saar, Eneida Sanches, Renée Stout, Patrick Vilaire and Frantz Augustin Zéphirin. Their work provides an opportunity to establish links with traditional African art from the Afrika Museum collection. However, unlike in the case of functional objects (ie objects that have 'operated' in a religious setting), these contemporary artists have clearly interpreted things in their own way. Roots and More: Journey of the Spirits is the first of its kind in the Netherlands and in Europe. Never before has there been an exhibition with such a topical focus on the spiritual wealth that Africa has offered and continues to offer the world. It marks a magical crossroads where sacrifices are made to Eleggua / Eshu / Lucero, on the threshold between two worlds, where everything - humans, spirits, animals and things - comes together. A richly illustrated bilingual catalog with an introduction to the various religions of the African diaspora and descriptions of the participating artists will be published to mark the exhibition. © Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, The Netherlands / January 2008. . Participating artists: Belkis Ayón, Barra, José Bedia, Société Secrète Bizango (a group), María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Mestre Didi, Sokari Douglas Camp, Edouard Duval-Carrié, Félix Farfan, Adenor Gondim, Stivenson Magloire, Pascale Monnin, Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal, Gerald Pinedo, Edival Ramosa, Alison Saar, Eneida Sanches, Renée Stout, Patrick Vilaire and Frantz Augustin Zéphirin.

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