A Brief Introduction to Haitian Voodoo

Photo Book

Top Image: Stephanie Keith; Bottom Image: Shannon Taggart

An illustrated lecture by photographers Stephanie Keith and Shannon Taggart
Date: Tuesday, January 11
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
**Copies of Stephanie Keith’s new book Vodou Brooklyn: Five Ceremonies with Mambo Marie Carmel will also be available for sale and signing

Voodoo is a religion that merges West African traditions and Roman Catholic Christianity. Created by African slaves brought to the Americas in the 16th century, today its various forms are practiced by over 60 million people worldwide. The purpose of Voodoo ceremony for its practitioners is to make direct contact with the metaphysical realm of the universe by allowing human beings to interact with a pantheon of gods and spirits via spiritual possession.

Photographers Stephanie Keith and Shannon Taggart have long been documenting Voodoo ceremonies within the Haitian community of Brooklyn, New York. Tonight, the two photographers will present a general introduction to Voodoo. Over the course of the this illustrated lecture, they will show historical imagery and discuss the myths of Voodoo generated by sensationalist tales, Hollywood movies and popular culture; they will also introduce us to the major Spirits in the pantheon, describing their historical qualities and elucidating their individual personalities and preferences. In addition, they will share samples of their own haunting work documenting this fascinating and largely misunderstood religion.

Stephanie Keith received an Anthropology degree from Stanford University in 1988, and began her photography career after earning a Master’s in photography from New York University in 2003. She has worked for newspapers such as the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, and the NY Daily News. Her interest in religion and pop culture has resulted in two previous projects: “Jesus Rocks” about Christian teen rockers and “Prime Time Ramadan” about the importance of Egyptian Soap Operas for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. For the past four years, she has been documenting immigrant life in New York City focusing on Haitian Vodou ceremonies performed in Brooklyn. Her latest series about Vodou in Brooklyn has been exhibited in at the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Safe-T Gallery in Brooklyn, the Caribbean Cultural Center in Manhattan, published in the Village Voice and developed into an audio slide show for American Public Media’s “Speaking of Faith” program. The Caribbean Studies Press has just published her photos about Vodou as a book, entitled: Vodou Brooklyn: Five Ceremonies with Mambo Marie Carmel. For more about Stephanie Keith, visit http://www.stephaniekeith.com

Shannon Taggart is a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA in Applied Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her images have appeared in numerous publications including Blind Spot, Tokion, TIME and Newsweek. Her work has been recognized by the Inge Morath Foundation, American Photography, the International Photography Awards, Photo District News and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace, among others. Her photographs have been shown at Photoworks in Brighton, England, The Photographic Resource Center in Boston, Redux Pictures in New York, the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles and at FotoFest 2010 in Houston. Her essay Basement Voodoo was recently published as a feature in Yvi Magazine. For more about Shannon Taggart, visit www.shannontaggart.com.

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