Ruben Salvadori
P H O T O G R A P H Y


© Ruben Salvadori - 2013

Misspelling Vodou

Zombies and dolls pierced with pins are the first things that our collective imaginary associates to the word Vodou. A distortion that the Western society has created through popular fiction, music and tales, which makes us think about this spiritual expression as something distant and to beware of.

These and many other stigmas are what the Haitian community in New York City has to fight against in their struggle for obtaining greater spiritual acceptance and break the stereotypes that have been crystallized through time.

This ongoing project is a research on various aspects related to the practice of Vodou in New York, ranging from the tradition itself, to social, financial and political facets of such custom.

 
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A lady walks down the stairs during a Vodou ceremony held in a building in Brooklyn. Most ceremonies take place in temporarily rented spaces while some groups of the Haitian community fight to obtain funds for a stable warship place

 
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A man dances holding the ceremonial sword during a Vodou ceremony in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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A lady is helped during a possession at a Vodou ceremony in Brooklyn, New York.

 
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A girl is helped during a possession at a Vodou ceremony for the Guede spirit in a basement in Brooklyn, New York.

 
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Drummers play while Mambos (Vodou priestesses) perform the ritual steps of the ceremony for the Guede spirit in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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Mambo (Vodou priestess) Dowoti Desir, scholar, artist and political leader, takes part in a ceremony for the Guede spirit held in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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A person is possessed on the ground and wrapped in a white cloth during a Vodou ceremony for the Guede spirit in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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A person is possessed on the ground and wrapped in a white cloth during a Vodou ceremony for the Guede spirit in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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A Houngan (male Vodou priest) is possessed by the Guede spirit during a ceremony in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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A Houngan (male Vodou priest) is possessed by the Guede spirit during a ceremony in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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A woman is helped after a possession during a Vodou ceremony in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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A woman is helped after a possession during a Vodou ceremony in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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Houngan (male Vodou priest) Amir is possessed by the Guede spirit during a ceremony in a basement in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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A statue of Mary wrapped in a plastic bag is on display in a Botanica, a spiritual goods store in Brooklyn where many items for religious and traditional ceremonies can be purchased.

 
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A variety of statues are on display in a Botanica, a spiritual goods store in Brooklyn where many items for religious and traditional ceremonies can be purchased.

 
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An employee of the 'Original Products' Botanica, a big spiritual goods store in the Bronx, bottles elixirs in the basement where candles, oils and potions are crafted for the customers.

 
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A man packs religious items in a company's store house in Brooklyn. Many items arrive from abroad and are sold to the local Botanicas and smaller religious stores in the city and throughout the country.

 
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A man smokes outside of a Botanica, a religious goods store in Brooklyn where many items for Vodou ceremonies can be purchased.

 
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A boy carries a live snake around his neck in the Bedstuy neighborhood. This is one of the many areas that are being subject to a strong process of gentrification. Many of the local business owners, some of which run Botanicas (religious goods store where items for Vodou ceremony can be purchased) are facing hard times with the rising costs.

 
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Vodouisants take part in a ceremony for Agwe, a water spirit, on a beach in Queens, NY.

 
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A Haitian performer tunes her guitar before a folklore show on Vodou tradition in Brooklyn, NY.

 
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Vodouisants attend a ceremony for the Guede spirit in a Brooklyn basement.