Fundación Ludwig de Cuba
Secrets Under the Skin premiered at Fundación Ludwig in Havana, Cuba, December 22, 2010.
Hilda Victoria Zulueta, one of the most revered elders in Perico, was determined that our research team should learn as much as possible about the history of Perico and its Arará religious roots. She guided us to other key elders, and to locations in and around Perico that remain deeply embedded in the social and collective memory of Perico; sites that connect contemporary Perico to ancestors that "arrived directly here from Africa." "Don't be like those who have been here, gathered much information, and didn't do anything with it," she urged.
The opening at Fundación Ludwig was a day none of us will forget. It was humbling for all of us when elders and community members from Perico and Agramonte came into the gallery to see that, indeed, we had done something with the material they gave us. They carefully read all of Susan Matthews' manuscripts, pondered Brian Jeffery's photographic assemblages from Ghana, and viewed my own DVD presentations. They watched Marianne Kim with respect and stood in front of the DVD that featured interviews from elders in Ghana and Togo who spoke back in response to questions from those in Perico to those in Africa. They wanted to listen again and again to the sound of the African language.
Additionally, the key Arará musicians came to Fundación Ludwig in Havana to play their sacred music for the opening. This was an honor for them since they seldom play outside Perico.
Thank you in particular to Helmo Hernández, President, and to Wilfredo Benítez, Deputy Director of Fundación Ludwig for trusting in and presenting this project as a premiere in Cuba. It was critical to this research team that this material was presented first in Cuba.
Jill Flanders Crosby, Project Director
Fundación Ludwig Opening Reception
Prieto in front of his portrait, image by Susan Matthews
Roberto's Altar and The Women from Dzodze
Roberto Pedroso García, one of our collaborators, is deeply embedded in religious life in Cuba. He is originally from Colón, a town situated between sugar cane fields near Perico. Many people in Perico remember him from childhood. He is known in his spiritual community for creating beautiful, artistic altars. The altar he created for Secrets Under the Skin brings together many aspects of the project. On the altar he placed religious objects from Ghana and Cuba, ash from Alaska, earth from Cuba, and sand from the Slave Coast of Ghana. As is customary, he unified the altar with large amounts of flowing cloth. The altar is placed beneath the painting of the Women from Dzodze, Ghana, who are shown viewing photos of sacred objects from Perico. These two pieces show the connection between the traditions in Dzodze and Perico.
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Unless otherwise noted, all images by Brian Jeffery