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Shannon Taggart March 7, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Haiti, United States.
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Haitian Vodou Ceremony, Brooklyn, New York 2009

Shannon Taggart (b.1975, USA) is a photographer based in Brooklyn. Her images have appeared in publications including Blind Spot, Time, Tokion, New York Times Magazine and Newsweek. Shannon’s work has been recognized by the Inge Morath Foundation, American Photography, the International Photography Awards, Photo District News and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace, among others. Her photographs have been shown at Photoworks in Brighton, England, The Photographic Resource Center in Boston, Redux Pictures in New York, the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles and the New Gallery in Houston.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph is part of a long term project about Haitian Vodou ceremonies that happen in a basement Hounfor (temple) in Brooklyn, NY. The host is Rose Marie Pierre, a third generation Mambo originally from Haiti. It was the first night that I witnessed a possession, the centerpiece of Vodou ritual. Possession may look frightening but it is actually a meaningful, sought after experience. The purpose of possession is to allow a personal interaction with the Loa, a pantheon of gods that are archetypal representatives of natural/moral principles. Possession is not an opportunity for self-expression, it is a blessing and a reward for service. It is also a gift one gives of themselves to their community so that others may consult the Loa for intercession, guidance and healing. The analogy used for possession is as if one’s body is being mounted like a horse, with the Loa as the rider. One cannot be man and god at once, so the individual needs to surrender their ego to the experience. A temporary amnesia then takes place and the events that occur remain a mystery to the person possessed.”