Les Stone - Voodoo

The images work on both an educational and aesthetic level

Article by Suzanne Hart | 12 Dec 2006
The word Voodoo most likely conjures notions of black magic, zombies and dolls you can stick pins in. However, like the ancient voodoo religion there is more to Stone's series of anthropological photographs than instantly meets the eye. Held within a furnace-hot room (an added special effect or a liberal approach to central heating?) the exhibition features fiery pictures of native Haitians, which are juxtaposed against the traditional stained glass windows of St Mungo's. This forms a nice parallel between the Voodoo rituals on display and the Christian customs which Voodoo worshipers incorporate into their religious practices. The images work on both an educational and aesthetic level. Stone, who spent over two decades documenting Voodoo rituals in Haiti, uses celebratory scenes of communal gathering as well as more sinister images of anguish and fear to represent a community which has been notoriously misrepresented in the past. Yet his glossy images are equally visually appetising. His use of a sharp focus intensifies the vibrant reds and oranges worn by the worshipers, which along with his often comic approach, allows the pictures to be enjoyed for their artistic merit as well as their photojournalistic value. [Suzanne Hart]
St Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow until 14th January 2007. Free.