I died on the evening of the most beautiful day of my life: I died the evening of my wedding at the Church of Saint-Philippe-et-Saint-Jacques. Everybody thought I was struck by the sacramental YES that burst from deep inside. My acquiescence had been so strong and convincing that everyone said my passion carried me off. I was presumed to have been struck by a lightning bold of determination to marry.
To tell the truth, my apparent death began a half-hour before my outcry, in the instant before the departure of the wedding procession from the house. I was ready to leave. I had glanced one last time at the living room mirror: “Go, Hadriana!” said a voice inside, from the Caribbean side.
During my happy life as a girl, there had always been three spaces- the inward garden, the exterior courtyard, and the Caribbean side. It was very warm in all of them.
In the midst of the affectionate chatter of my maids of honor at the foot of the stairs, I proclaimed my thirst aloud. I would really like a glass of ice water.” […] Had someone foreseen my last-minute thirst?
Arms lifted me from the floor of the Church. Whose were they? The man had a difficult time making his way through the crowd of people. My dangling feet struck bodies as we passed. A hand grabbed my right foot and squeezed it for some time. I felt the cool evening air in spite of the mask glued to my face. The bells pealed out full volume along with the cries and the applause, as they had when we left the house. The person carrying me began to run. Many people were running alongside. I still could not see. The only sense still working was my hearing.
A woman’s voice yelled: “Long live the newlyweds”. Carnival began immediately on the square. I realized that I could smile and even laugh in the midst of my misfortune. I laughed like crazy for the first time that night: they were dancing the rabòday around me while the drums and the conch shells went wild. The man carrying me seemed to be dancing as well. My stiff limbs could not take up the rhythms. As the stranger passed over the threshold of the villa, my sense of smell came back to me suddenly. I could smell the freshly waxed floor from my childhood days. The man put me down carefully on one of the living room carpets.
A syncretetic and changing system of beliefs and rituals produced out of the experience of the sugar plantation system in the New World, Vodou, or “the serving of the Gods,” though bricolaged in the forced contact of African vodun and Catholicism, may be understood as a historical response to the very experience of the ritual brutality of slavery. the serving of the Gods, or lwas, worked to transform torture, terror, and servitude itself. In her recent reconsideration of Haitian history, Haiti, History, and the Gods, Joan Dayan recounts her lesson from the Manbo Priestess La Merci Benjamin about what it means to submit to being ridden by the spirits. Benjamin explains that through the intense thought work of incarnating one of the Vodou deities, “instead of being turned into a thing, you become a god.” And, thus, Dayan theorizes, “to Be ridden by the mèt tèt, to be seized by the god, is thus to destroy the cunning imperial dichotomy of master and slave, or colonizer and colonized.” In eighteenth-century Saint-Domingue nighttime assemblies for the collective practice of Vodou ritual and dancing were more than just transgressions of colonial legal authority. Possession by the gods also conjured a spirit-infused landscape of sacred trees and herbal offerings that menaced colonial authority through a reversal of colonial authority’s basis in its materially staked claims to possession, the notion of “property rights,” of self-possession and control of land.
Sowing Empire- Landscape and Colonization | Jil Casid
Inspiration to design dance spaces in the gardens of Le Manoir Alexandra
A la fin de 1946, à mon arrivée à Paris, je me précipitai, haletant, au musée du Louvre, vers la célèbre toile de Leonardo, comme au premier rendez-vous pris loin de Jacmel avec Nana Siloé. J’en fus profondément décú. La Joconde était bien le chef-d’oeuvre d’un peintre génial, mais, comparée à la jeune fille de mon souvenir, elle semblait plutôt ricaner, sans aucun feu intérieur.
Hadriana dans Tous mes Rêves | René Dépestre
Haitian Chancellor Laurent Lamothe at the Louvre Museum during an official visit of the exhibition of Le Serment des Ancêtres:, property of the Musée National d’Haiti.
Spiral stairs at the Louvre museum in Paris, France:
Spiral stairs at l’Habitation Leclerc in Port-au-Prince, Haïti:
Anghelen drawing of iron-laced spiral staircases in Jacmel:
Old Pergola in Jacmel’s Place d’Armes
Bringing the pergola back to Place d’Armes as the entry-way to an underground museum