Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do you Vodou?

By Meredith Deliso

Do you Vodou?

Stephanie Keith does. The Clinton Hill resident has spent nearly five years capturing Brooklyn’s Vodou community — specifically, photographing the religious ceremonies and practices hosted by Mambo Marie Carmel in her Flatbush basement.

“I’ve always been interested in religion, but I just love the beat of the drums, the songs, and the energy that’s created between the participants,” said Keith. “It just seemed so free.”

Keith’s passion in shooting the ceremonies culminated this past summer in her book, “Vodou Brooklyn: Five Ceremonies with Mambo Marie Carmel.” On Dec. 18, the photographer celebrates both the book and the religion with an exhibit at Five Myles in Crown Heights. 

In addition to featuring her work, the night will be a non-intimidating introduction to the Vodou religion, complete with a salute to the spirits and drumming by Gerard and Mandouse, in an attempt to erase negative connotations and myths people may associate with the Haitian religion, such as Vodou dolls and devil worship.

“I feel like Vodou has been such a sustaining religion to so many people, but it’s still so misrepresented and misunderstood,” said Keith. “I am committed to the idea of Vodou going mainstream and people not having strange misconceptions about it. It’s a really beautiful and rich culture steeped in Haitian history.”

“Vodou Brooklyn” at Five Myles [558 St Johns Pl. between Classon and Franklin avenues in Prospect Heights, (718) 783-4438], Dec. 18 at 7 pm. Free. For info, visit


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