Translation: Visual

Makandal’s network goes beyond the Early Caribbean to reach the present and contemporary because he continues to re-present. An example is in the painting of Haitian artist, Edouard Duval-Carrié, whose pieces,”Makandal” and “L’Orange de Mme Lenormand de Mezy,” among others present haunting portraits that blend into landscapes of stars and leaves. [1]

Likewise, the photography of Leah Gordon in Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haiti, documents history through performance of “Lanset Kods,”-- a group of performers who reference the violence of and resistance to the plantation by wearing horned headdresses.[2] Adolescent boys with nude torsos have painted themselves with a mixture of crushed charcoal and cane spirit, and they call themselves “Lanceurs de Corde” (Lanse Kòd) or the Rope Throwers. Gordon’s image is the cover of the most recent edition of Victor Hugo’s Bug-Jargal (trans. Chris Bongie, 2011). The black and white image is one that records the Kanaval celebrations in Jacmel, Haiti and the performers who take on the personas of both historical and mythical figures associated with its political and spiritual history. These particular figures represent the maroon and the collective history of marronage on the island; they are living reminders of the fugitive Africans who escaped the confines of the sugar and coffee plantations of colonial Saint-Domingue and formed their own communities, raided the plantations, and poisoned their enemies using the botanical knowledge they brought from Africa. 

 

Footnotes

[1] Duval-carrie.com, Archives. All.88, 2017.  See ”L’Orange de Mme. Lenormand de Mezy,” “L’Apotheose de Mackandal,” “Makandal S’envoie,” as well as “Ti Noel a Sans Souci,” and other works in reference to Alejo Carpentier’s fictional revival of Makandal in The Kingdom of this World.

[2] Gordon, Leah, Madison Smartt Bell, and Richard Fleming. Kanaval: Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haiti. Soul Jazz Records, 2010.

 

Leah Gordon Image 1
Vagabondaj Mawon: Sitadel (2019) (Vagabond Maroon: Citadel) by Leah Gordon. KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD: TRIPTYCH | WAYÒM NAN MOND SA-A: TRIPTIK 2019. 

 

Leah Gordon Image 2, Lanset Kod