Kanaval. Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the streets of Haiti (Soul Jazz Records)

7 07 2010

“This book contains the most disturbing but exhilarating photographs you are ever likely to see”
Bill Drummond

Soul Jazz Records’ new photography book release is a fascinating combination of stunning photographs (by Leah Gordon), cultural, historical and anthropological text (with essays by Madison Smartt Bell, Don Cosentino, Myron Beasley, Richard Fleming and Kathy Smith) and unique oral histories.

Vodou, sex, death and revolution are key ingredients in the stunning themes and visual imagery of the street theatre of Kanaval in Jacmel, Haiti, where the men drag-up, wear diabolic cow horns, whip lassos and carry around dismembered doll parts. Light years away from the sanitized corporate-sponsored tourist parades of carnival throughout the world, this event is a vessel for everyday Haitians to shock and sexualize through masquerade, to mock local politicians, replay the slave revolt that gave birth to Haiti, the world’s first Black Republic, and to commune with the dead, with both personal and historical ancestors.

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“After the devastation of the 2010 earthquake, Carnival was cancelled in Haiti — no one can remember the last time that happened,if ever. Thank the Lord and the Lwa that we have Leah Gordon’s astounding new book — which shows us all the beauty and awe

of Haitian carnival and also teaches us, with its masterful photographs and prose, what that celebration means to Haiti and also to the human race.” Amy Wilentz (author of ‘The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier’)

These photographs were taken in Haiti between 1995 -2009, the year before the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti. A percentage of the profit from this book will go to Ciné Institute, teaching video skills in Jacmel and Brand Aid, rebuilfding the artisanal community in Jacmel.

“This book reveals a beautiful and strange worldJeremy Deller, Turner Prize Artist

“This book is an adventure, full of horror, humour, sex, sensuality. The pictures have all the doubleness and capriciousness so typical of the Haitian psyche. Leah Gordon has been there again and again, year after year, digging almost forgotten details out, she has done her work. That’s what makes this book outstanding. Jorgen Leth, Filmmaker

“This book contains the most disturbing but exhilarating photographs you are ever likely to see. One can only assume that Haiti is the most creative place on the globe. My advice is that you never go there in case you, in some small way, pollute their creativity with our bland western consumerist tastes. It is bad enough you are even holding the book. Buy it now and burn it before you have a chance to read it.” Bill Drummond


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