I once danced with my shadow. It occurred in Haiti at a party given for us by the Haitian sculptor, Murat Brierre. It was held at night on a flat rooftop of a tavern outside of Port au Prince. One had to climb a wooden step ladder to get to the roof. Nothing was initially on the roof, then chairs arrived, a table, a phonograph and lastly food and drinks. People would climb the ladder, stop by and pay tribute to Murat and then leave. It was a full moon, Haitian music was provided by the record player. A white masonry wall was on one side of the roof. I engaged one of the local ladies to dance and noticed our shadow projected on the masonry wall by the moonlight. We danced not only together but also with our shadows. At that time the shadows were part of the dance and a part of us. No drugs were involved and it was not a Vodou event, although it caused a trance like feeling. The experience generated the art piece shown in B-2. Art only captures part of an experience. That evening I may have danced with the daughter of the vodou goddess, Erzulie Freda.
Figure B-2. Murat’s Party, JD Sage, 1980.
Erzulie Freda is probably the most popular of all the Loas ( Lwas ) in Haitian Vodou, who among other traits represents the moon. She loves to dance and is the most graceful of all the loa ( lwa ). She is quite special to men and will dance with them, kiss and caress them, even in an often embarrassing manner. She represents the epitome of femininity and compassion. She is also the patron Lwa of iron and technology. Her symbols are a heart, a mirror, and a fan. Figure B-3 is a traditional symbol for her. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzulie)
Figure B-3. Traditional Erzulie Freda Veve, public domain image.
Murat Brierre (1938–1988) was one of Haiti’s principal metal sculptors. He sculpted works that reflected both Christian and Haitian Vodou themes. He is recognized to be one of the best Haitian sculptors. He probably knew Erzulie Freda. His works have been exhibited in many countries, in such places as the Abbaye de Daoulas, the Grand Palais, the Brooklyn Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Mexico and the Musée du Montparnasse. His work is part of the permanent collections at the Waterloo Museum, the Davenport Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Le Centre d’Art, the Musée d’art Haïtien du Collège Saint-Pierre and the Musée de Panthéon National Haïtien. (https://www.lecentredart.org/portail-de-lart-haitien/the-artists/brierre-murat/?lang=en) Figure B-4 shows a sample of his metal art works.
On a visit to Haiti in 1979, My wife and I visited Murat at his home on the outskirts of Port au Prince. I asked to see his studio. his studio was his open back yard. He used only a ruled straight edge, a piece of string with a pencil or chalk on the end, a sharp metal chisel and a piece of railroad rail as an anvil. Talk about minimal sculptural tools to make large metal creations. He passed away in 1988 at the age of 50.
Figure B-4. Murat Brierre, “Lolas” Public Domain image