Vodou and Visual Art Roundtable—Gede: A Celebration of Life and Death in Vodou

In this roundtable led by Oungan (Vodou Priest) Jean-Daniel Lafontant, participants will contextualize the current exhibition PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince by illuminating the Vodou tradition of Gede, the family of Spirits, in which images are captured by an intermediary that is neither human nor a spirit. The roundtable will include the screening of “Gede Vizyon,” an experimental short film conceived by two Brazilian artists in collaboration with Haitians during the 2017 Ghetto Biennale. Following the film, attendees will convene around a compact Sosyete Vodou with a manbo and ounsi, where Gede will hopefully be present and manifest.

Jean-Daniel Lafontant is a Oungan (Vodou priest) and a founding member of Temple Na-Ri-VéH in Haiti. He is also the founder of ANAE (1987), a New York-based association specializing in the cultural promotion of Haitian art influenced by Vodou. He serves as a board member for Le Musée d’Art Haïtien and also as Executive Director of the Haitian Cultural Foundation. In the last 4 years he has produced and been featured in a handful of documentaries, articles, and publications on Vodou and the art and culture of Haiti, including the acclaimed documentary In the Eye of the Spiral and the CNN series The Believers. Lafontant is a U.S.-educated Communications and Financial professional who was very active in developing the credit card business of Haiti and later contributed in placing Western Union in the lead position of the remittance business in the country. A few months after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, he joined the humanitarian sector and served as Head of Communications for the Haitian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Through his work as a Spiritual Healer, diplomat, and cultural specialist, Lafontant has worked with diverse institutions promoting a global understanding of the multifaceted nation of Haiti and its diaspora.