A misterio is something inexplicable, a mystery, something that requires faith and belief to approach and observe, something that inevitably defies a scientific and rational explanation.
A misterio is something that cannot and should not be revealed to a voyeuristic audience in search of a thrilling magic spectacle, it’s a serious spiritual happening that cannot be easily recorded by a video camera and a microphone, something one cannot and probably shouldn’t try to dissect and analyze with a western rationale and a cynically charged urge to understand.
Hence, I had many concerns on how to go about this visual investigation and maintain a respectful attitude toward these cultural and religious phenomena so ancient, mysterious, extremely private yet socially widespread and avoid the common western presumption to explain, judge and criticize what I was being allowed to witness.
The Pantheon of LOAS (Lwa) pertinent to Dominican Vudu,”Las 21 Divisiones” (the 21 Divisions) is extremely broad but there are 3 main divisions I am focusing on: The White Division, the Black Division and the Indio Division.
While the majority of the Loas (spirits) are graphically represented by Canonized Catholic Saints such as St. Miguel, St Carlos Borromeo, St. Elia, St. Antonio, St. Lazaro, etc., there are exceptions such as Santa Marta la Dominadora, a Loa of the Black Division, a beautiful black woman fiercely holding a dangerous snake with her hands and giving shelter to a newborn baby in her lap.
A vast part of my visual investigation focuses on Her, Her powers, Her followers, Her “Caballos”.
© Giovanni Savino Photography