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Exhibition at Cantor Arts Center Provides a Glimpse into the Practice of Modern-Day Vodou
Jean-Dominique Burton (Belgium, b. 1952), “Gbediga Adoko” and “Tronkpeto Deka”, pigment print on Fuji Film Fine Art Museum ‘Baryte’ paper. Courtesy of Fifty
One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp, Brussels.

STANFORD, CA.- 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 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 January 13, at 6 pm. Admission to the museum, the exhibition, and the programs is free.

Cantor Arts Center | Jean-Dominique Burton | Stanford University |

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